This set of six linen napkins and placemats is so beautiful that using them, either to pamper myself or entertain special friends, always makes me appreciative of the needleworker’s skill. They were purchased from an estate sale and were estimated to be vintage 1940.
By virtue of my friend Suzanne Sawko’s definition of “antique” as something that is older than she is, I declare these linens to be the real deal. But using Suzanne’s standard has made it harder and harder for me to find genuine antiques!
The Madeira applique’ is so well executed that the iris almost appears to be painted in place. The holes in the point de Paris/pinstitch that secure the linen pieces to the foundation are so much smaller than those made by machine with a 100 or 120 wing needle!
I do love machine made pinstitch. But studying these tiny stitches reminds me that while machine stitches may exactly duplicate the point de paris stitch sequence, the result differs greatly from the handstitched version. Another noteworthy feature of these linens is the crisp, clean cutwork edges. Not a single whisker escapes!
The surface embroidery is beautifully raised and dimensional. The orange iris stamens and the lily of the valley flowers are smooth as satin. I especially like the French knots that give welcome texture to the irises.
The backs are as neat and perfect as the front.
I’m looking forward to entertaining houseguests next month. After teaching in Orlando, Terri Click will visit and a week later Carole, an old friend from high school, will come by. Those occasions are special enough that we may have tea in the potting shed and use these pretty linens.