Table Linens – Part 3

A passage in the 1845 The Ladies’ Work-Table Book’s,  1845 section on plain needlework is nearly identical to a section in Sarah Josepha Hale’s The New Household Receipt-book.

“Table Linen – This department of plain needlework comprises table cloths, dinner napkins, and large and small tray napkins.

“Table Cloths. – These may be purchased either single or cut from the piece. In the latter case, the ends should be hemmed as neatly as possible.

“Dinner Napkins. – These are the various materials; if cut from the piece, they must be hemmed at the ends the same as table cloths. Large and small tray napkins, and knife-box cloths, are made in the same manner. The hemming of all these should be extremely neat. It is a pretty and light employment for all young ladies; and in this way habits of neatness and usefulness may be formed, which will be found very beneficial in after life.

“Pantry linen. – In this department you will have to prepare pantry cloths, dresser cloths, plate basket cloths, china, glass and lamp  cloths, and aprons. Pantry knife-cloths should be of a durable material. The dresser cloths, or covers, look neat and useful. They are generally made of huckaback of moderate fineness; but some ladies prefer making them of a coarser kind of damask. The plate basket cloth is a kind of bag, which is put into the plate basket to prevent the side from becoming greased or discolored. They are made of linen, which is well fitted to the sides, and a piece the size and shape of the bottom of the basket, is neatly seamed in. The sides are made to hang over the basket, and are drawn round the rim by a tape, run into a slit for that purpose. China cloths, and also glass cloths, are to be made of fine soft linen, or diaper; and the cloths used in cleaning lamps, &c., must be of flannel, linen, or silk. All these articles are to be made on the same manner, that is, hemmed neatly at the ends; or if there be no selvages, or but indifferent ones, all round. Nothing looks more slovenly than ragged or unhemmed cloths, which are for domestic use. Little girls of the humbler classes might be employed by the more affluent, in making up those articles and a suitable remuneration given them. ….

There was an interesting passage of the August 17th entry of the 1864 Book of Days:

“‘Table-cloths’ have been in use in Englad certianly since the Saxon period, and in that and every succeeding era.  The word ‘napkin’ was fomerly applied to handkerchiefs and table-linens, as well as to cloths for head-dresses, &c. ‘Napery’ was the general term for linen, especially that for the table. ‘Towel’ requires no explaination.”

Additional Reading:

The Linen Trade, Ancient and Modern by Alexander Johnston Warden 


Published in: on October 31, 2009 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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