Fine linens are typically characterized by beautiful materials, elegant designs, and fine workmanship. They are also smooth and soft and usually made from linen or cotton. There are subtle differences in linen and cotton. Linen comes from the flax plant and has a lighter and crispier feel to it. Linen is also highly absorbent and lint-free. Cotton, on the other hand, comes from the cotton plant, is more substantial and is usually prone to more shrinkage than linen. Both fabrics are highly absorbent, durable, and become softer with use.
Traditionally, white damask or plain white linen is used for formal occasions. The damask weave is considered the most formal over the Jacquard weave. However, either linen or cotton is considered appropriate for formal occasions.
The length of the tablecloth depends on how your table is set up. If your table is set up in a buffet style, the tablecloth should drop to the floor. Otherwise, the tablecloth should drop below the top of the table 8-18 inches. For a formal dinner, your napkins should match the tablecloth. For informal dinners and gatherings, it is fun and acceptable to mix and match patterns and colors.
Along with using fine table linens, come stains. Here are a few quick tips on treating the most common stains on table linens.
1. Red wine: Sponge or soak stain using cool water. Pretreat with stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Launder with fabric-safe bleach.
2. Gravy: Pretreat or soak with a product that contains enzymes. Soak for 30 minutes if the stain is dry. Launder as usual; don’t machine dry until the stain is gone.
3. Butter: Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Wash using the hottest water safe for fabric. Re-treat if necessary.
4. Candle wax: Scrape off with a dull knife. If wax remains, place linen between white paper towels and press with warm iron. Replace paper towels as wax is absorbed.
5. Olive oil: Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Wash using the hottest water safe for fabric. Don’t machine dry until the stain is out.
6. Tomato sauce: Apply a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Wash with liquid laundry detergent and fabric-safe bleach at a safe water temperature.
7. Lipstick: Sponge or soak using cool water. Pretreat with stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Launder with fabric-safe bleach.
8. Coffee or tea: Pretreat with stain remover or liquid laundry detergent or rub with a bar of soap. Launder as usual and again if necessary.
If cared for properly, fine table linens can last for many years. To properly store your linens, be sure they are clean and dry. If you starch your linens, it is best to avoid doing this prior to storing them. Fold your linens (or roll to minimize wrinkles) and store them in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. You can also wrap your linens in acid-free tissue paper and store them in a natural fiber bag. Do not store linens in plastic bags, cedar chests, basements, attics, or garages. Storing your linens in these places, where large fluctuations in temperature and humidity are likely, can be damaging to your linens. Be sure to check your linens periodically to ensure they are clean and dry.
If you need to store your linens for longer periods of time, you can purchase linen storage kits and linen storage boxes that are acid-free. These kits and storage boxes are available online in a variety of sizes and styles.
Lesley Dietschy is a freelance writer and the founder of http://www.HomeDecorExchange.com – The Home Décor Exchange is a valuable website full of information and resources about home and garden decorating.
In addition to editing the Home Décor Exchange website, Lesley is a crochet pattern designer and needle fiber artist. You can view her crochet patterns and needle fiber designs at: http://www.ErinOliviaDesigns.Etsy.com