Last week, I worked on a fun commission: restoring an antique towel cover. This particular piece is over a hundred years old and has been in the owner's family from the beginning. The cover sports typical symbols known from Dutch and German cross stitch samplers: vases with flowers, pomegranates, peacocks and women in folk costume. The embroidery was executed with cotton perle #5 in only six colours: pale yellow, orange, red, light blue, medium blue and dark blue. Whilst the blue threads are still in perfect condition, the red and orange have completely gone and the yellow has gone in some places too. A stark example of the influence of a particular dye on thread survival!
The fabric is a fine closely woven linen measuring 59 cm from selvedge to selvedge. Peculiarly, the selvedge is still perfect on the right, but starts to fray on the left. Any thoughts on this?
Since the pattern is quite fun and I know that there a cross stitch and sampler fans among my readers, I've transcribed the pattern and offer it as a free download here. Note: the colours stated in the pattern are not exactly the original colours. Rather they are a red, orange, yellow and three blues in Anchor stranded cotton. I mended this sampler using antique threads made by DMC and Schürer. The exact colours were not or no longer available from either DMC or Anchor.
Have fun! And I hope to see you this weekend at the Lichtmessmarkt in Rottach-Egern, Tegernsee!
P.S. just to add to the 'leaving a knot on the back' debate: the knots were the only things remaining when it came to the red and orange threads :)
You've made a really good job of restoring this family heirloom, Jessica! I was amused about the knots---I wonder why they retained their colours? Being tightly furled, perhaps.
Thank you Rosalind! Strangely enough, the knots had faded, but it was often the only fiber left of the whole stitching!
Indeed Rachel! And it made my life that bit easier; I could just leave a knot at the back as well :).
Hi Jessica, what a lovely project, saving an heirloom! You did a great job, thanks for sharing.
Thank you Marina! Ah, yes, scraping. That makes sense.
Oh, but I did Catherine! Since I saw that the knots were thus so strong that they hold beautifully over a hundred years, I used them too. It speed up the process enormously! And it was in keeping with the original piece 😍
Yes, that's what I advised the owner too. However, as she lives on the other side of the country, I told her to find a local seamstress. The piece will alter considerably and it is best to make an informed decision when you are in the same room.
Jessica, at the risk of making a fool of myself - again - what is a towel cover? Or rather, how is one used? I have never heard of them before.
Oh, not at all Erica! I am not even sure if it is a proper translation... They were used in earlier days to hang on a rod in front of the kitchen towels. This way, everything always looks organised and clean. Even if the towels behind it are not.
Thanks so much Jessica. I did woner about the practicalities!
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