How do I identify quality when selecting fine linen?
Fine linens are characterized by a combination of beautiful materials and design as well as fine workmanship. Most fine linens are made from linen or cotton because these materials are durable, absorbent and soft. While they do require ironing, they are long lasting and have the most luxurious feel and appearance. There are these days high quality and easy care table linen available which are either
stain-resistant or wrinkle resistant.
Both linen and cotton are natural fibers. Linen comes from the flax plant, which grows in the cooler climates of western and northern Europe. Cotton comes from the cotton plant which grows in hot, humid climates throughout the world. Both fabrics are highly absorbent, durable and become softer with use. There are some differences. Linen feels lighter and crisper and becomes whiter with use. It is
also highly absorbent and lint free. Cottons feels more substantial and will shrink more than linen.
Quality in cotton is primarily based on the length of the fibre. Longer fibres can be spun into smother, stronger and much finer yearns, which in urn can be woven to create fabrics that are softer and more durable. Egyptian cotton is particularly prized because the humid weather and rich soil around the Nile Delta produce especially delicate and long fibres. Cotton grown there has a staple length of over two inches of that in generic cotton and 60% longer than Prima cotton.
High quality linen fabrics are also made from longer fibers because produce finer and stronger yarns. These fibres have a very consistent thickness with also most no coarse knots or uneven slubs, resulting in a smooth finish. French. Irish and Belgian linen are widely recognised to be among the finest linen in the world.
What size tablecloth should I buy?
Formal table linens are generously sized for elegant entertaining. Sizes do vary among manufacturers, however, those listed here are helpful as guidelines.
Rectangular 70”X100” (seats 8)
Rectangular 70”X120” (seats10-12)
Round 70” (seats 4)
Round 90” (seats 8)
For formal settings tablecloths should hang 10” to 12” around the table. More elaborate occasions may call for a drop of 15” to 30”, that is, all the way to the floor. The longer the drop that more dramatic the effect. In contrast casual events call for cloths that have 6” to 8” drops.
To calculate the size of the tablecloth you need, measure the length and width of your table and add twice the desired drop to each dimension. If your table measures 48”X84” and you would like a 12” drop on each side you need to add 24” to each dimension. 48”+24”=72” wide; 84”+24”=108” long.
For round tables measure the diameter of the table and ad twice the desired drop. 48” round tables need 72” round tablecloths.
What design should I select for my table linen?
Formal linens are either solid, woven with a pattern, printed or embroidered. White and ivory are the most traditional colours. Printed designs and more coloured embroideries are more suitable for informal settings. Unlike a print, a damask or jacquard refers to patterns that are woven into the cloth creating a subtle and elegant look. Damask patterns may be woven into fabrics of many weights.
When selecting linens for a special event you should consider several things:
Location: Choose colours that complement the décor of your dining room. For outdoor events, bright colours look better in sunny locations while pastels are better for garden settings.
The Season: Spring and summer colours tend to be lighter, while bolder colours are better for the fall and winter.
The theme: Colour is one of the most effective way to set the mood you want to create. Vibrant colours add drama while soft colours evoke a more refined atmosphere.
How do I protect my table top?
Although they are designed to last a lifetime, fine table surfaces are exposed to daily wear and tear. Felt table liners help protect your table from heat and scratches. These liners are generously sized (approximately 5” larger than your table) to extend over the edge of your table in order to create a softer drape underneath you fine linens. You should select a liner that is slightly smaller than your tablecloth but larger than your table.
How to I appropriately care for my table linens?
Most fine linens can be laundered at home. Cottons and linens should be washed with like colours in cool water using a non-bleach detergent. Stains should be treated as soon as possible using an appropriate stain remover. Bleaching agents such as chlorine, peroxide or sodium carbonate should not be used.
Machine wash warm water on gentile cycle. Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
Was dark colours separately. Tumble dry on low heat. Remove while still damp.
For formal dining it is recommended that you iron your fine linens. After washing, lay the slightly damp linens on your table over large towels and press with a hot iron.
When storing your linens make sure they are clean and dry. Avoid starching them prior to storage. Fold items gently and store them in a cool, dry and well ventilated areas. Do not store linens in plastic bags or cedar chests nor in basements, attics or garages. You need to prevent exposing your linens to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. Be sure to check on your linens periodically to ensure that
they are clean and dry.