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My passion for lavender scented linen sheets - my hobby

Rating: 6 votes, 4.33 average.
by , 01-24-2009 at 10:50 AM (108368 Views)
This entry to to try to connect with the possible three other people on the planet who also adore linen sheets.

I have a passion for anything linen. I love fine textiles and linen clothing.

I love linen sheets, made from flax. Modern people confuse the use of the word "linen" for any bed sheet, which bugs me. Flax Linen, before the 1800's cotton revolution, used to be the fabric of choice. It was ungodly expensive and still is, but one thing to remember is that linen sheets last 4 times longer than cotton, as long as you take good care of them. I do not believe the common myth that they last lifetimes, or would be heirlooms, unless they were saved and used for "best".

I keep a linen press, with well mended and tended linen. At the moment I own 6 top flat sheets, 6 bottom flat sheets, three oversized heavy flannel cotton blankets and 12 pillowcases. My linen press is an armoire. I keep my incense stash in there to smell nice. I mark my linen with my name and the year purchased on the bottom hem with laundry ink. I follow old fashioned Godeys and Beeton's linen press advice. Every August I carefully examine each piece, mend, darn, patch, turn, and sew the sheets. Really ragged sheets get made into garb or pillowcases.

I have a weird bed. It is the queen sized Ethan Allen pencil post bed in maple with a carter canopy handnetted "double diamond" canopy on top. I have two featherbeds. One has to pole vault to get into this very high bed. It takes european superking sized flat sheets on the bottom to fit over the featherbeds. A regular sized king sheet is on the top for proper drape. I spray my bed with a mister filled with water and a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Real linen sheets are carefully washed on the hand wash setting on the machine and laid on the grass to dry. They dry really fast. I don't bother to iron. On a rainy day, I hang them to dry over the shower curtain rod.

Linen sheets are not soft and people who buy them always say "I thought they were supposed to be soft...whine!". Real linen sheets are crunchy and rough, really. I have a ten year old sheet that is just getting soft now.

Another thing I hear is from people who were disappointed with the lifetime of their expensive sheets, having destroyed them prematurely by putting bleach on them or putting them in the dryer.

I try not to buy anything hemstitched or embroidered. To quote Miss Manners "Hemstitching rips like perforated toilet paper." I buy sewn hems or "double row cord".

I have had very bad luck with buying old sheets on ebay. Either the person can't measure and the sheet is much too small for my bed, or it disintegrates in the wash.

Now why all the mending and sewing? Linen sheets are an investment. A good quality king sized flat sheet can run from 200 to 500 dollars each. They used to be used as currency, dowry or trousseau, brought by a bride into her marriage. A household would buy one linen sheet per year, with the oldest or most ragged recycled into other linen articles, such as crib sheets, tablecloths, rags, or pillowcases. The linen wasn't wasted. You don't see this kind of husbandry with cotton articles.

Here is my review of the linen sheets on the market today.

Garnet Hill - cheap garbage cheesecloth, will not buy again.

Williams Sonoma - cheap garbage cheescloth, will not buy again.

ebay's italiantique. Very nice, thick and durable. I have two sheets from this lady. she sends sheeting and you have to sew your own, like in the old days.

LinenLine - very nice. My first sheet from them was sent all the way from Belgrade. I ordered a european superking 125 x 125. I received a fabulous handkerchief weight sheet sewn with seams pieced together. It fits my bed perfectly. High quality linen that has held up well. My second purchase from them, I think they got confused and sent me a medium weight US california king. It has a nice hand and fits as a top sheet. I kept it but it was not what I ordered. On the down side: They would not respond to my emails for a request for the true european sizes. Hey LinenLine guys- I would be willing to pay for the postage from Belgrade. Americans want the european sizes. So for LinenLine: Your customer service sucks. Your product is excellent.

Cuddledown Italian linen sheets - the king flat sheet 120x106 fits my bed well. The linen is sturdy, well woven, and heavy [edited to add: medium weight]. It doesn't have that linen "sheen" that some people look for. I like the monograms available. Two thumbs up for Cuddledown plain sewn italian linen. Its my review in the customer review section about having lost the half the sheets in the divorce.

Now the 1st prize goes to Thomas Ferguson's Irish Linen. These things could withstand an atomic blast. Uber thick, industrial strength. Super rough and crunchy at first, like sleeping on sandpaper. ("i paid 1000 dollars for THIS?"...)
They are so thick, so heavy and so tightly woven, you actually have to break these sheets in, like a new pair of shoes. (I suppose i could iron them but i don't). hang in there. superb. They are made to order so you will speak to Nigel about your order. It's nice to know that the person I am speaking to actually has a hand in the making of the product. At 800 -1000 bucks a pair for the european superking, you will take good care of them. I have had a few pairs over the years, but the pair I received September/October 2008 had a better hand than in years past. I noticed that this particular pair had a label that said "superior". edited to add: comparing the fergusons to the others is like comparing a rolls royce to a toyota corolla. the ferguson's stands alone at the top.

next year when i can afford it i will try the new ferguson's "premier" line. pricey.

Well, hope my passion didn't bore you to tears.

june 3, 2009 edited to add: i discovered a new source for lovely sheets. i wanted to add my review of my latest acquisition from Ebay. Rave reviews of ebay's jumperjilly who sells for russia house collection. I just received my king flat russian sheet -nice hand, nice weight, nice sheen, well constructed, floppy, wobbly, gorgeous european superking size. holy cow! cuddledown has some competition!

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Updated 07-01-2009 at 11:10 AM by ladykemma2



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  1. julie beth's Avatar
    hello, julie from texas again - i have a linen duvet cover and a cotton-linen duvet cover. i use the linen cover without a duvet as a bedspread during the summer months (and sometimes not even then - it's HOT!). the cotton/linen cover we use in the fall w/o duvet, and then for the short really cold spell, i'll put in the duvet - which is a fairly light down-filled affair.

    in short, yes, i use duvet covers, but not really duvets themselves.
  2. lginpdx's Avatar

    So glad I found this forum. Another linen junkie here. I have nothing against egyptian cotton. I love it in the Fall, Winter, Spring and early Summer but, when the REAL Summer weather hits, it's Flax or death for me.
    I have a lovely set of linen sheets from Sfferra Brothers that I found at Bed Bath & Beyond, of all places, in NYC. The fabric is similar to a cotton muslin (I would guess in the 150 thread count range).
    I was lucky enough to get a remarkably fine and dense sheet via Ebay from a seller in England. It is an Irish sheet that was woven sometime in the 20's to 40's. When I first saw it I was quite sure it couldn't be 100% linen because it was so smooth and the weave so tight. I was quite sure it was a linen cotton blend, but it had all of the drape and character of linen. The seller assured me it was all linen. He said that the lot it was from was the best quality he had ever seen. His "finder" said the same thing. It was found in an old estate in Ulster, Ireland, where there is a well known linen mill. The seller's finder believes, due to it's quality, it was part of a very exclusive run. I finally sent it to a textile expert in Colorado to confrim the content and he assured me that it was 100% flax. He couldn't give me an exact date of production but, judging from it's seamless width (92") his best guess was post 1905. It was after this date that spinning and weaving in Ireland advanced by leaps and bounds. This sheet is the finest I have ever had the privelege of handling, much less owning. Alas, it developed a couple of holes in the very center of the sheet so I will soon be making it into pillow shams.
    Ladykemma2, I am very interested in your sheets from Fergusson. I believe I have seen all of their swatches (before they started charging for the service) and I have never seen anything from them that I would term "ubber thick". All of the swatches they sent me (which I understood was their full line) were very fine, muslin type sheeting. When I say "muslin" I mean similar to cotton muslin. Much like what you would find in a fabric store. I do have some "Ubber thick" sheets that I purchased on Ebay. They are vintage, French linen sheets,which I understand are characteristically thick and sturdy. I find the French sheets to be perfect as bottom sheets, which seem to get the brunt of wear and tear. I also have a vintage, German sheet which is very fine but "glassy" and firm. I'm quite sure it will last a long, long time as a bottom sheet.
    I must say that I have never seen any sheeting to beat the circa 1920's Irish linen sheets I have purchased on Ebay. I should stipulate that my preference is for a very fine hand and a very dense weave. Beside the single, exceptional sheet I aquired (two more of which were lost in transit from Great Britain, sigh.) I have two other small Irish sheets that exceed anything I have seen on the commercial market in hand and density. I would guess that they are both in the 180 to 200 TC range. This is rare for linen sheeting. When I received the Fergusson swatches, their best boast was 160 TC.
    Ladykemma2, if you are interested in comparing swatches of my vintage Irish linen to your Fergusson sheets, I would be interested in you opinnion. I may have missed their best line of sheeting.
  3. ladykemma2's Avatar
    hmmm. makes me wonder what kind of swatches they sent you.

    my exprience with the fergusons is that they sort of like muslin but very heavy, more like a broadcloth than a muslin, when i took them out of the package. Once washed, the weave packed in tight and they they became, for lack of a better word, industrial strength. very suitable for bottom sheets. thick and heavy. don't know about the thread count. there are two grades of the fergusons.

    I bet you really enjoy those super special sheets! I am glad you know how to sew to make the holey linen into pillowshams.

    expensive hobby, ain't it?

    regarding liking a dense weave, you would definitely not like the jumperjillly or linen line. they are handkerchief weight.
    Updated 09-05-2009 at 08:52 PM by ladykemma2
  4. lginpdx's Avatar
    As far as I know, Fergusson sent me samples of their entire available line. It did not occur to me that the density of the weave would increase with laundering, but it clearly makes sense that it would. This would also explain why my pre-laundered vintage sheets appear to be more densely woven than the unwashed swatches that I have received from the retail linen houses.

    And you are correct, ladykemma2, it is an expensive hobby. Although I do feel quite lucky that I aquired a few of my best, large Irish sheets for under $150. each, including shipping. I was just a very fortunate bidder. I have, however, lost several auctions because I haven't allowed myself to get too caught up in the bidding.
    It still smarts that the holes in my best sheet appeared on my watch. I still call it my QV (Queen Victoria) quality sheet. I understand that she was quite the "princess" when it came to the quality of her personal linens. I read somewhere that she required all of her linen bed sheets to be boiled in a cauldron until they were as soft and supple as chamois cloth.
    Updated 09-06-2009 at 02:38 AM by lginpdx (add a comment)
  5. julie beth's Avatar
    yeah, the linenline is not in the least bit "dense." it's more kleenex-like (although strength-wise it seems quite durable). which makes it lovely when it's hot out, when combined with a good ceiling fan. the linoto is quite a bit denser, although still not what i'd call industrial-strength, although now that y'all mention it, it surely did get denser with washing! i'm loving that set.

    i have a pair of pants from (i think) match point that is the densest linen i've ever encountered - now, THAT fabric would make wondrous wintertime sheets! too bad i have no idea where it came from. the pants themselves i got in a $5 sale box at a local boutique - i'm thinking i got a good deal there. they're pink and ruffled, and make the BEST loungey-pajama pants.

    but linen clothing is a whole 'nother topic, so...
  6. jumperjilly's Avatar
    Jumperjilly here.....there's a first time for everything! I've been so busy running my little linen company that I've fallen way behind in technology! But not anymore....this is my first blog comment and I'm so thrilled that ladykemma is talking about my linen sheets from Russia! ....linen lovers unite! Cheers, jumperjilly
    Updated 10-10-2009 at 05:03 AM by ladykemma2 (removed advertising. :))
  7. ladykemma2's Avatar
    update: there was a king size linen sheet on ebay yesterday that sold for ten bucks. who got it?

    i sat on my hands because i don't need another. what a steal!

    i want want want want want that "last one" natural king flat sheet of jumperjillys, but absolutely do not need it. i have enough sheets to last til kingdom come.
    Updated 12-23-2009 at 08:06 AM by ladykemma2
  8. ladykemma2's Avatar
  9. ladykemma2's Avatar
    they aren't cotton. i went to the restoration hardware website and they looked pretty nice so i bid on them.

    restoration hardware belgian linen is about to get a "review" from ladykemma2.

    i "bought it now"ed on ebay...
    Updated 05-09-2010 at 07:57 AM by ladykemma2
  10. ladykemma2's Avatar
    ok, here is my review of the restoration hardware "belgian" linen sheets - ivory king, ordered from ebay . i assume they are a customer return.

    they come nicely packaged in a linen drawstring sack. the tag says 100% belgian linen, but on the other side it says "made in china". hmmmm.

    the fabric is very heavy.

    ok, washed and line dried. the fabric is HEAVY but loosely woven and it didn't "pack in tight" after laundering in hot water. it has a smooth feel. i wonder if these were factory seconds because one of the side seams isn't straight. i sew, and linen is one of the easiest fabrics to sew. how hard it is to make a straight seam on linen, i mean, really. also a good seamstress will press her seams and the side seams weren't pressed. the tops seams were pressed.

    so far not impressed, but these COULD be a factory reject or an ebay counterfeit. will post later on how they wear. i have to remember that these are inexpensive linen sheets. also i am not convinced these are linen. maybe a linen rayon blend. they do the scrunch test like linen.
    Updated 05-15-2010 at 07:19 AM by ladykemma2
  11. ladykemma2's Avatar
    december 2010

    i am dismayed to discover 3 tiny holes in a row in my fergusons 2007 sheet. in the center top lengthwise up and down. the sheet is thick and stout, and it's premature to "turn it". the threads have failed? physical injury?

    it looks like something took a "chomp" out of it, like with a mechanical paper hole punch. chomp chomp chomp.

    edit: returned to add: this site suggests if you don't get all the soap out you will get holes. hm. Care of vintage & antique French linen

    this is interesting The Mending Of House Linen

    back again: here is what i am going to do: i put a sachet of cedar oil in the cabinet in case i have silverfish. we don't have moths here.

    as soon as it is off the bed, i will use "fraycheck" liquid on the holes, and patch with spare linen. this is a bummer.

    back again: it is my boy cat! he is clawing the sheets. nice straight lines.
    Updated 12-20-2010 at 06:44 AM by ladykemma2
  12. Judi Dial's Avatar
    Okay, I grew up with good quality cotton sheets, I think. At least we sent them out to a laundry and there was no polyester. I'm not a fan of fitted sheets or blend sheets, neither is my husband.

    So I get high density cotton sheets when I can find them. I dabble in antiques and seem to be getting a fair amount of table linens these days. Is there anyway/a site that will educate me about dating and/or content of linens? I've found lots of places that assume you know this or that, but I know almost nothing now, and I'd like to learn?

    TIA --

  13. ladykemma2's Avatar
    it's june 15, and i just noticed this post.

    i actually don't know anything about vintage linens. anyone?
  14. ladykemma2's Avatar
    i have a new queen mattress and none of my sheets fit on the bottom. the fergusons superking fit on the top.

    aargh. must begin sewing newly sized sheets from the old sheets. i hate to chop up the pretty monogrammed cuddledown sheets. i guess they will go to the old bed in the guest bedroom. i will not cut up the fergusons - they are too new.

    i have called for a quote from fergusons for a "superlong superking."

    i chopped up two ancient cuddledowns to make a temporary bottom sheet until i decide what to do .

    edited to add 5/5/2014 the jumperjilly sheets (russia house collection) fit my new bed. yay.
    Updated 05-05-2014 at 11:40 AM by ladykemma2
  15. ladykemma2's Avatar

    nigel from fergusons emailed with a very reasonable price for the custom made sheets 120 x 140 inches . i ordered two.
    Updated 10-01-2011 at 07:26 AM by ladykemma2
  16. ladykemma2's Avatar
    there are linen line items on ebay! go check
  17. ladykemma2's Avatar
    this blog has had 17247 views!
  18. ladykemma2's Avatar
    nov 4. my custom sheets arrived. i had to fill out a PIA customs order from federal express for being an "importer". weird, all the items ordered from fergesons in the past and i have never had to do this before.

    very nice sheets.
  19. ladykemma2's Avatar
    this blog entry has had 24895 views!
  20. ladykemma2's Avatar
    here is a message someone sent.

    Hi Ladykemma. I loved your linen review and was wondering if you have tried rough linen or linoto or had another suggestion for the best linen as the post is a few years old. I am mainly looking for duvet cover and shams that don't get too wrinkly, have a soft feel and have a nice linen sheen to them. Thank you!![/QUOTE]

    i long to try the orkney linen (natural) summer cover from Rough Linen. no money, sadly. i look at the website almost daily and then remember that i am trying to get out of debt right now. i am gettting a substantial raise this year, so maybe? She "gets it" that us hot climate people need a special cover. I adore her website. I have watched all her videos on her website/youtube.

    for the summer cover i would special order 120 x 120 for my weird bed.

    also i don't NEED any more sheets at the moment. these things won't wear out. haven't bought new sheets since 2011.

    with the jumperjillys, the Ferguson custom made, and the regular Ferguson superking. i have 3 working sets of sheets that fit my weird bed. cannot justify another.

    also linen is wrinkley. don't worry about it. and not soft, crunchy.
    Updated 05-08-2014 at 11:37 AM by ladykemma2
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