How To Display Vintage Linens

Collecting and displaying vintage linens can be a creative and enjoyable project. Showcase your collection and easily improve or update the look of any room in your home.

Are you interested in collecting vintage linens? Did your great-grandmother leave you some of hers? Perhaps you already collect them and are always looking for an additional display idea. After all, what good is a collection you can't enjoy? Dig those linens out of that musty box or hit the antique store and let's show them off!

The term "linen" refers to fabrics, textiles and cloth. Think along the lines of tablecloths, handkerchiefs, lace, towels, sheets, and quilts. The term "vintage" began as a reference to wine, and has edged over to include items that are at least twenty-five years old. Anything over one hundred years old is considered to be an antique. Therefore, a vintage piece of linen might be a thirty-year-old tablecloth, a sixty-year-old handkerchief, or a twenty-six-year-old towel.

So if you have some of these items, what do you want to do with them? There are some people who choose to keep them boxed up, perhaps saving them for another family member. However, displaying a beautiful piece is not difficult. While some vintage linens are extremely fragile and require special care, many pieces can be set out for others to admire. While deciding on a display method, here are some things to keep in mind:

Where will they be placed? Is it a busy room? A dusty room? Think about candles, lamps and other objects that might adversely affect the placement, as well as direct sunlight.

Do you have small children or pets that may come in contact with the linen? If so, consider placing your linen up high or safely within a case.

Is this a piece that, if damaged, is completely irreplaceable? Again, consider placing it behind glass and out of sunlight, or simply pack that one away.



Now that you've considered where you'd like to show your linens off, how would you like to do it? Here are some of the many ways to attractively display them.

Shadow boxes: You might place a piece of linen inside along with a coordinating object, such as an antique baby spoon or piece of jewelry, or even an old photograph.

Frames: Simply take a regular picture frame and stretch your linen over the thin cardboard that comes with the frame. Tape it down in the back; place within the frame and voila! You have an instant one-of-a-kind wall hanging. You can also customize your frames by distressing them or gluing old buttons or bits of lace on the edges.

Pillows: Take two handkerchiefs, sew along the edges, stuff with fiberfill and close. You can also try this method using vintage lace over a floral print fabric for a nice textured pillow.

Wall hangings: Hang a vintage quilt on the wall using a decorative curtain rod. Or layer several quilts together, being sure you stagger them over each other so each quilt has a chance to peek out.

Quilt racks: Many furniture stores carry racks especially designed to display quilts. Jazz them up by creating a corner display, perhaps hanging some old photographs or postcards above the rack.

Beds: Place a vintage quilt on your bed! Since they were originally meant to be used, why not use them? Add one or two of the lace pillows and you have a whole display in itself.

Whether you are planning to display your linens for friends and family, or just for your own enjoyment, have fun doing it. The original owner of the piece would likely be happy knowing you are sharing a piece of the past, and allowing history to continue.

© High Speed Ventures 2011