the fabrics

Household linen, the trousseau, was part of a family’s heritage. It was kept in a wardrobe or chest and chiffré (marked), embroidered with the initials of the mistress of the house -- for centuries it was very nearly the only property a woman could own.


Linen was used to make sheets, chemises, and household linen such as napkins, tablecloths, and kitchen cloths. Relatively stiff and drab colored, linen grows softer and whiter with repeated washing. Its weave varies according to its intended use. Sheer, fine, strong or extra-strong, linen may be white, ecru or cream-colored (unbleached). Linen cloth is laid out in the fields to be bleached naturally by dew and the moon.


This is a very durable fabric with a distinctive texture. Hemp sheets were used for centuries in the country and by people of modest means. Their characteristic middle seam bespeaks an age-old weaving technique using looms no more than a meter wide.


Cotton began to be used in the late 19th century for table linen and bath towels. Tablecloths were white and damasked (woven to create patterns of matte and satin textures). Bath towels were often made in honeycomb cotton, a waffle weave suggesting the cells of a honeycomb They were sometimes bordered with red or blue bands, or marked with satin stitch; the oldest were fringed

Métis (linen cotton mix)

Métis sheets, often featuring openwork, also became common in the late 19th century. They were marked like linen sheets and embroidered. To be called "métis" cloth must be at least 45% linen, the rest cotton.


Linen, hemp and cotton have nothing to fear from very hot water or a hot iron; on the contrary, this treatment gives them their beautiful patina. Marseille soap, in flake or liquid form, is an excellent detergent that will not irritate children’s skin or harm the environment.