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Vintage French Linen – To Have And To Hold

by Sharon Santoni

Sharon, HiP Paris friend and the author behind “My French Country Home”, has a lovely blog about the pastoral delights of living in the French countryside with her husband, children and… horses?? Yes, it’s true. She seems to live the dream! Here is a post about vintage French linen. For those of us lucky enough to have slid between genuine vintage linen sheets on a hot summer evening, her pictures and narrative bring back blissfully cool memories!

French Country Home

I’ve already told you how much I love old French linen, well today I’m really excited because  this weekend I’ve been able to find several unusually beautiful bed sheets to put into my etsy shop.

One of my really great pleasures in life is slipping into bed between freshly pressed linen sheets.  Best of all vintage linen.  I love the weight of the linen, the soft smooth texture, the way they feel cool in the summer and warm and comforting in winter.  I never sleep better than in old French sheets.

French Country Home Linen

Today it is still possible to come across bed linen, over 100 years old, and in perfect condition.  If you are lucky it’s monogrammed, if you’re very lucky you get ladder work, lace or other embroidery too.  Sometimes there are slight signs of wear, or even a tiny and perfectly darned hole, to me this just adds to the charm.

Traditionally the most beautiful sheets were embroidered as part of a young girl’s trousseau.  The wealthier the family, the more ornate the handwork,  and the finer the weave of the metis, or cotton and linen mix.  There are few places today who produce such fine and long lasting materials.

French Country Home Linen

A fine bed sheet with a deep turn-down was particularly useful after childbirth when  the mother “laid in” and received polite and congratulatory guests in her room.  Today that same deep turn-down looks wonderful when the sheet is used as a curtain., just flip over the turn back and fix hooks to the fold, and you have a pretty and unique curtain.

When I am lucky enough to find antique sheets that have never been used, I particularly enjoy watching the linen fade from slightly blotchy beige, to a beautiful smooth creamy color.   The first thing to do is to soak the linen sheet or pillow cases or cloth in cold water for 24 hours.  After that I wash it once or twice at a lukewarm temperature.  The material is softened without damaging the fiber. After this, as the sheet is used and washed it becomes progressively whiter.

French Country Home Linen

The best thing is that when they’re not being used on beds, they even look great in the linen cupboard!

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Sharon also rents out a quaint cottage attached to her country house. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Sharon Santoni

Sharon Santoni is a British expat that has lived and raised a family in France for over 30 years. In 2010, she began her blog - My French Country Home - to share the charms and comforts of authentic French country living. To her surprise, she gained a sizable and loyal following, and now, a decade later, she runs an international, multi-faceted company that includes a luxury subscription box service, an elevated French touring business and a bimonthly magazine. Sharon also regularly appears as a public speaker and has penned two popular books - My Stylish French Girlfriends and My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons. View Sharon Santoni's Website

6 comments on “Vintage French Linen – To Have And To Hold

Fabulous blog! I am planning a trip to France this summer (hopefullly) and I am using Haven in France as one of my resources.

Thank you for the wonderful information.

Carolyn
Frenchcountryathollycottage.com

Where do you find these kinds of linens?

I love my table linens. So pretty! I have considered adding bed linens to my collection due to the comfort level in both hot and cold climates.

But, oh, the ironing!

I’ve not ironed in years and don’t wish to do any of that work. I cannot dry these outdoors and refuse to hurt the linen fibers with a clothes dryer. Maybe I could start with pillow cases? Hmmm.

What a dreamy,inviting images..
I must agree that “today” sheets cannot be compared with the linens beauties
from long ago.

These look so beautiful. It is true that often the French do not appreciate their amazing antique linens and they can be found in brocantes and flea markets at great low prices!

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