Caring for vintage linen
Decorating with vintage accessories has been a popular trend for a while, and becomes even more popular as people realise that vintage style doesn't have to mean old and antiquated. Modern vintage style incorporates statement pieces that are bought secondhand, handed down, or even pieces that are manufactured to reflect the style. But best of all, vintage is a style that anyone can afford.
Vintage linens are an essential accessories when decorating a home in vintage style. Generally, vintage linens are manufactured using linen or flax. These fabrics were considered durable and of high quality for items such as table linens, bed linens and decorative items. You will also come across vintage pieces made of woven cotton.
One important thing that should be noted with vintage linens is that they should never be bleached. Bleaching damages the natural fibres and the fabric will eventually tear, causing irrepairable damage.
These days it's hard to find linens that are not stained, but there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to restore vintage linens to good condition:
Remove stains from vintage linen
I have found that concentrated lemon juice works extremely well for removing light stains. Wet stains with lemon juice and then sprinkle this liberally with salt. Place the item outdoors in a sunny spot, preferably on a white towel, or an item that will not stain the linen.
Once dry, gently rinse in cold water to remove all traces of lemon and salt and dry again.
For stubborn stains you can soak items in lukewarm water and oxygen bleach, or non-chlorine bleach, and leave them overnight.
Ironing vintage linen
You need to use a hot iron - without any steam - for ironing vintage linen. I place a white cloth or towel over the ironing board to prevent any staining. The reason I don't use the steam function is because our water contains metals, and this can so easily seep onto the fabric causing even worse staining.
If you have put vintage linens outdoors to dry, bring them inside for ironing before completely dry. This makes ironing easier.
For embroidered pieces it is best to iron the back of the fabric. The towel underneath helps to raise embroidery detail rather than flatten it, as it would if you ironed the front.
Fold up linens while still warm if you want them creased. Ironing a crease will damage the fibres and may cause them to break. Let them cool before you pack them away.