With the holidays upon us, I hit the road today to attend a nearby flea market. This market is quite large and just as diverse with everything from almost edible potpourri......
to Santa Claus!
Lots of architectural salvage to dig through......
and way too many cute doggies to distract me!
One booth had acres of fauxed wooden plaques that they would personalize on the spot with your name or favorite quote.
But what really caught my eye were these french linen night shirts.
Their detailing with all those pleats and hand stitching! I had seen these at the Alameda flea market in San Francisco and regretted not getting one. This time, I would not let one get away!
These linens are also known for their perfectly stitched initials, always in red; located somewhere on the garment. Here is a little history behind the stitches-
The trousseau was often comprised of numerous sheets (twelve was common for a wealthy family), numerous dish towels, hand towels, napkins and tablecloths patiently and meticulously embroidered. To mark these linens with one’s initials was an inherent part of every young girl’s education. And in fact the sampler, or “abcdaire,” was the pride of each little girl who arrived in the adult world. On a swath of cloth, she embroidered in needlepoint the letters of the alphabet as well as the numbers from zero to nine. The initialled letters of the “marquoir,” or the family stamp, were always “blood red,” a symbolic reference of the young girl’s destiny as a woman. Why red? Because red was also a strong and durable dye, resistant to multiple launderings and one that could be easily seen. Before the era of chemistry the colorant widely used was “common madder,” or “rubia tinctorum.” Common madder belongs to the vast plant world family of rubiaceae, quite a remarkable family in that it also includes the plants that produce coffee beans and quinine. A perennial plant, common madder has evergreen leaves, tiny yellow/white flowers and reddish black pea-sized berries. However, it’s in the roots that the pigment is found that is the source of the dye known today as alizarin.
Unlike the refined art of embroidered linens, which was realised in white on white, the stitching of these red letters had a purely utilitarian role and was executed in a simple cross-hatched needlepoint. The letters served to organize sheets that were made in pairs of a top and bottom sheet, and next to these letters, small numbers were often also marked. These numbers were a kind of rank that allowed the sheets to be alternated equally between washings but they also served as a kind of accounting as the family linens had a very great value. And very often a young girl marked her linens with her own initials to distinguish these from those of her mother and grandmother. Sometimes too she inscribed the name of her town or village. (source)
Be sure and hit your local flea markets and gift shows this year and support your local craftspeople! Thanks to Tenny Roche' for her passion with antique textiles and her wonderful booth at Canton Trade Days!