I just listed a couple of vintage printed tablecloths and did a quick search to find some tips on using and displaying these treasures. I found the Vintage Tablecloth Lovers Club which has a wealth of information on the topic. Here are some pointers that I gleaned from the articles.
- It doesn’t matter if the linens are a bit yellowed, or perhaps have a stain or two. Even the “Shabby chic linens” with small holes and stains are desirable and add vintage charm to a contemporary home.
- Most vintage printed tablecloths you find today are in smaller sizes ranging from 32″ square to 54″ square. Buy several larger gingham and plain tablecloths in primary colors to show off your smaller tablecloths. Layering colors will add texture and charm and help hide those little wearholes. Mix and match and have fun.
- Roll and stack vintage printed tablecloths in an open display cabinet and tuck a smaller tablecloth under your grandmothers teapot in the china cabniet.
- Bring one out on the garden patio for a lovely lunch spot. Used, treasured cloths with slight holes and imperfections can be brought out daily and lovingly used with no fear of further damaging them. In fact we add to their charm with our own little stains and rips. These “imperfect” tablecloths warm our kitchen and brighten our lives.
- When buying vintage printed tablecloths, inspect the item completely. Open it up and look for wear holes or weak spots – these may become bigger holes after washing if the cloth had be improperly washed or stored in the past.
- Watch for fugitive dyes and significant fading – Early kitchen textile dyes can be unstable and will fade unevenly. Hold the cloth up to the light to see if there is evidence of missing colors or a faded pattern – this will reduce the value of the cloth.
- Measure- most vintage tablecloths were 50″ or 54″ wide and varying lengths- sometime you will find a 38″ wide BBQ or patio tablecloth. Anything 36″ wide is most likely a vintage fabric piece and not a tablecloth. 60″ x 60″ wide cloths most likely will be a modern reproduction so it pays to measure all cloths in the store. The club has a gallery of photos of modern reproductions.
- Vintage tablecloths with large holes or significant fading are still fun to have . They can be used many different ways; as craft projects. They can be cut apart to make pillows, curtain valances, table runners and more.