Blanket protectors were made to help keep blankets (expensive items then) clean and fresh. They were placed over the top of the bed, so that the sleeper touched the protector rather than the blanket. This top also kept the blanket clean and served as a bed adornment, rather like a bedspread. Sometimes it would be placed half on the underside and over the top, almost like a sheet, but not all the way down the bed. You can turn these into a sheet by adding fabric to the length. They also make great curtains or wall hangings. Adding a sleeve at the top or folding over the top part to form a sleeve is easy, sew a straight seam and you have a valance or a curtain !
This wonderful German invention basically functions like a small
duvet. The baby is placed inside the wrap and the lower part is brought
up over the body and tied on each side. Since the whole piece is double,
i.e. you can insert a blanket or thin duvet to keep the baby warm and
cozy. The opening for the blanket is either in the middle or on the
Counted Cross Stitch
A design was worked upon plain weave Linen fabric by a means of counting the individual warp and weft threads and placing the stitches in even increments over the diameter according to the pattern. Counted Cross Stitch items can be easily recognized by the distinctive linear patterns the design forms on the reverse of the cloth.
Damask from Europe, in particular, older pieces, are of great quality and heavier than we are accustomed to seeing with modern new pieces. Whether it's linen damask, cotton or satin, it is great to use for your more formal entertaining as it highlights your table pieces. You will also love sleeping under the bed linens made of damask! The quality of vintage damask is generally much better than anything you can find new, and the more it is washed, the softer it gets.
The informal thick absorbent damask used in French homes in the early part of the last century for everyday use is quite heavy and very sturdy. It is extremely strong, and not as silky is the fine linen damask but more rustic and will last forever.
Doilies are small or large (usually round) linen pieces that are used
on all kinds of surfaces and can be one of the most creative items in
your decorating hands! A doily can be lace, crochet, knit, embroidered
and so on.
Euro Shams & Pillows
We sell 'Euro' shams, i.e. measuring approximately 30-31 inches
square and buttoning on the back (partly sewn flap and then buttons for
the opening). We sell the forms in Down and Hypo Allergenic Poly.
You can also use 2 standard American pillows together, although you
won't get the typical European look that way, and it's a bit messier
looking. Be aware that the Euro forms commonly sold in stores in the USA
are only 26 inches - the larger 30-31-inch ones are much harder to
If you worry about running out of beds, use them for your living room sofa for a 'shabby' look, or just the shams as a small table cover! The possible uses for these shams are endless. They can be sized down to fit smaller pillows, turned into unusual accents on patio furniture or even used as small duvets for a baby cot with some cotton batting inside. They work well on outdoor furniture, and patios. Cotton shams, the everyday simple shams, are sturdy and will last.
European Pillowcases - Non-Standard Shams
European vintage pillowcases or over-sized shams
are most often white and linen or a cotton/linen mix. They are larger
than the cases made in the US. For this reason they make a great
decorative statement on a bed as the large pillow in the back (oversize
pillows for these shams are readily available in home decorating and bed
/ bath stores). They are also often used as small duvets or for
Filet lace is embroidered on a base grid. The pattern is embroidered over the grid, with a knotted framework. This lovely raised effect contributes to the decorative and collectible appeal of the pieces. The finer and the more intricate the work, the more valuable it is. Larger pieces are especially collectible and quite rare when in great condition.
French sheets are
usually Queen-size or better and come in various qualities, from cotton
to the purest and finest linen lawn. Each item description details the
type and grade of the fabric. The embroidery is always exquisite, and
the more a sheet is adorned, the more luxurious and aristocratic it was
considered to be.
Vintage aprons were a staple in Germany. They, of course, were used
often in the household, especially when receiving guests, rather like
hostess aprons. You might have also seen (in life or in pictures)
waitresses in coffee and beer houses with their immaculate starched
aprons, tied with an impeccable bow at the back (we can never get bows
to look that nice!). Another popular use was worn over a dirndl.
German duvet covers are typically smaller than American comforter covers. The duvet sit on top of the bed, and does not go over the side. As the duvet inside is fluffy and puffed up, it sits on the bed like a cloud and you feel like you are sleeping under one too!
The closest inserts in size found in the USA are a Full Size Feather Duvet or Poly Loft Bed Topper. Those work very well with vintage German duvets and can readily be found in most bedding stores.
Germany is better known for embroidery and crochet and the lace is
not as famous as some of the other countries' production, which is a
mixed blessing. Of course it means the prices are lower, even for
handmade pieces, but it also means it is not appreciated to the extent
it should be, nor is it well known and understood.
German Linen Towels
is known, and quite rightly so, for its superb quality. Linen was
widely produced in Northern Europe; linen items are still quite
reasonable and readily available. These superb towels, typical of those
used by German housewives in the early 20th century, were always part of
a girl's trousseau.
In Germany, sheets used to be made to be buttoned onto the heavy
duvets (different from the fluffy ones found today in Germany). This
helped keep the duvet clean and avoided having to wash it often since it
was a heavy and difficult job. Those old duvets were made of wool, and
heavy fabrics and washing them was a major enterprise. The sheets
therefore often have buttonholes along the sides that would match up to
the buttons on the duvet.
Lace knitting or art knitting is not that well known in this country, although those who do know it and appreciate it are avid collectors. These pieces are made by hand by experts and look wonderful, especially on a dark background or on glass.
Lapkins are French, large napkins meant to go on your lap as the name implies. Using one is a civilized way to make sure you do not spill some delicious sauce on your lap. Fancy table linens usually included these as sets in French households.
Most often damask, usually linen damask, is commonly embroidered with
a fancy monogram in the center. Lapkins are a wonderful way to adorn
your holiday table and make perfect lobster bibs because of their size.
Laundry Basket Covers
Laundry basket covers are one of the hottest collectibles of the
moment. Usually embroidered in blue or red, and with the words 'Frische
Wasche' (clean laundry) or simply "Wasche' (laundry), they would be
placed on the basket of clean linens. The basket would then be carried
home, to or from the washing place, or to the ironing place, with the
family linens hidden from prying eyes.
Ancient Egyptians deemed linen 'the cloth of the gods'. Emperor Charlemagne concurred, decreeing that every Belgian household grow flax, hence the beautiful vintage linen items we find in Europe today.
This linen was also produced in France and Germany, and was more
abundant than cotton. Hence, bedding and night clothing were often made
of linen, a luxury to our modern ways. If you have ever tried sleeping
under linen you will know what a wonderful feeling it is. The fabric
breathes, and it's light, yet warm enough. Linen is also strong (mummies
were wrapped in linen). Linen lasts through time with little or no
A special linen cloth that was used to help iron items in a mangle machine (an ironing machine), and this would ensure small items stayed smooth and did not get tangled in the rollers. Mangle cloths are pure linen since that fiber can withstand the highest temperature. Today a mangle cloth makes a great country living style banquet tablecloth with a Continental flair!
they are called in Germany, were a common sight in houses in Germany
and Holland up to about the 1950s. They were used to decorate a kitchen
and to hide everyday, unadorned kitchen towels. They were draped over
the rods with the top part folded over (it is usually decorated as
well). They are heavily embroidered and decorated with various types of
scenes, or with abundant floral decorations. Their aim was to make
plain, utilitarian kitchens more decorative. Often you will see them
with a Dutch-themed motif, with a saying, or figural scenes.
Pillow Shams (embroidered small shams)
These darling pillow shams were used for the living room though you
can use them anywhere. Just pop in a pillow and voila, instant charm!
They make a nice alternative to a pricier needlepoint one and have a
unique charm of their own. We always have a nice selection of these, both with floral designs and the figural ones with sayings from poems
or lyrics from songs that were popular at the time, usually the 1940's
or 50's. The songs themselves can be found easily online.
Plauen / Chemical Lace
Lace is often named by its place of origin. In Germany the most important textile weaving and lace-making center since the sixteenth century was Saxony (an independent kingdom until 1813). From this lace-making center comes the world famous 'Plauener Spitze', named after the city of Plauen in Saxony.
The first embroidery machine was established in Plauen in 1881. In
1900, the lace produced in Plauen was awarded the 'Grand Prix' at the
First World Expo in Paris, France.
The term punchwork refers to the fact that the design was actually 'punched' out upon the cloth with a small awl like tool; then the edges of the 'punch were bound with overcast stitches ~ when the 'punches' were close together the resulting effect was that of a mosaic like grid. Obviously a huge investment of time went into such pieces.
One further note, we often see pieces of punchwork listed as drawnwork ~ in drawnwork the threads are actually drawn or pulled out of the warp or weft of the fabric, thus the designs are all linear.
Rollen, Rolle Fein, Rolltuch - etc.
Rollen is a synonym for items that were put through a mangle or
'mangling', the way in which they used to "iron" the big linen pieces.
Schoolgirls in Germany, indeed in most of Europe, were required to complete several samplers to learn the techniques they would need to decorate their homes and sew their linens.
Most of these old samplers are done in red, although you can find them in other colors and some are quite colorful or have text on them. These would be worked on in school or at home and were graded like other assignments. Up until a few years ago, it was still a requirement.
This duvet acted as a transition style form the button on version to the ones we see today. Here the duvet is inserted into a diamond-shaped opening and the pattern of the usually elaborate fabric could be seen through the diamond. Later the duvet cover would become the large envelope style ones we know today.
Monograms in Europe