My passion for lavender scented linen sheets - my hobby
by, 01-24-2009 at 11:50 AM (80611 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!