Linen Care: Cleaning and Storing Vintage Linens

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toe-linencaregroup-2-resizedCare of Antique and Vintage Linens

We want to start by saying that this section is meant to help get you started or to help give you new ideas. Please leave comments if you have any additional tips, comments, and any contributions on the subject.
The key thing to remember when dealing with older textiles is to be gentle. Old linen fibers are old and hence can be weaker and prone to damage. You will mostly want to hand-wash, although your washing machine can sometimes help avoid the heavy labor and work this imposes.
Do not try to rush the process and be patient; it can take days to obtain results. Some textiles have had decades to accumulate dirt and soil!

Supplies to have on hand:

  • Soap flakes or a very gentle detergent,
  • Q-tips,
  • large soft towels,
  • a large container,
  • clothespins
  • Biz (use sparingly and only where applicable to your particular situation)
  • Lingerie bag(s) – especially useful for fringed items, silks, delicate laces and embroidery
  • Ribbon (to help avoid tangling fringes, make sure it’s white or cream)
  • Gloves (to protect your hands)
  • Specialty products and stain removers as needed.

General stains and yellowing:

1. Start by soaking the item in a mixture of Biz (if desired) and a gentle detergent (Dreft, Orvus Quilt Soap, laundry flakes). Soaking is important and should not be skipped. Dry and brittle fibers benefit from water and from immersion.

2. Soak up to 2-3 days if you can and as needed. Use the washer, and replace the water regularly. Just drain the water, spin a few seconds to get rid of excess, and put more in. Do not spin or use the machine for very old and delicate pieces.

3. For delicate items, use a container and wash gently, stirring with a spoon. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Better too much than not enough.

4. Remove items from water. Be gentle since at this stage the linens are very fragile. If the piece is heavy, support it with both hands, or get help. Do not let large pieces just hang down. Place linens on a towel and start patting dry. Do not squeeze. Roll gently into a towel.

5. Lay item flat, on a towel or white sheet. Especially if you are using the outdoors, a white sheet will help reflect the sunshine available. If will also protect your linen from grass stains and worse. Grass fields in Europe were known in the old days as the ‘bleaching fields’.

6. Dry items in sunshine if available. Even in winter, with a weak sun, outside drying is great. We do not recommend the dryer since it makes linens grayish and dulls them. Never use the clothesline for anything large and/or heavy. Sheets (especially linen), quilts, bedspreads and the like have to dry flat. Putting them on a line will damage them by stretching them out of shape and result in major damage.

7. If you really must use a dryer because of where you live or because it’s -20F outside, try using some of the special dryer sachets available. Also try to remember to remove the linens before they are completely dry to make ironing easier. Do not use the dryer if there are still stains and spots left on the piece. If at all possible, only use the dryer as a last resort and when you are absolutely sure an item is 100% clean and well rinsed. Use the lowest heat setting and take items out as soon as the excess water is removed. Try to never use the dryer for anything that has to lie flat since it will distort them.

Ironing- Not everyone’s favorite job but it truly can be therapeutic and a pleasure. Make sure you have a good quality iron and that it is perfectly clean. Try to get to your ironing when the linens are still damp (even a bit wetter than damp). This makes the job easier and the results will be better. Hand ironing can be relaxing at a leisurely pace, in front of television for example.

Iron on a clean, smooth surface. Use a large white soft towel if you are ironing embroidery, and place the piece face down, so the embroidery does not get flattened. Use the correct setting, and work slowly from one end to the next. Fold or place item on a hanger, and let it sit until bone-dry (it’s not quite dry even after ironing). Ironing an item that has been out in the sun can be a true pleasure. It smells so nice! You can enhance the experience by using scented linen water. Only use starch if you will be using the linens, not storing them (see below). Roll tablecloths and large items (e.g. sheets) if storing them, to avoid stress on the creases.

What to do if washing is not enough?

If there are stubborn stains left, here are the things we recommend. Be especially cautious when working with any colored linens, and do spot testing where appropriate to make sure the attempted cure is not worse than the problem. Here is an overview of the most common problems and what to do:

– Rust. Sometimes rust is not actually rust. There are real rust sport of course, caused by metal and water coming in contact with fibers. Humid environments are very damaging to linens. The other ‘rust’ is simply a storage problem. Not rust at all. Usually a gentle soak, maybe followed by a treatment with one of the products below, will be enough, unless your item has already been so damaged by these spots that they degrade even further. You do not have anything to lose at this point by trying to get the spots out anyway.

– Yellowing, brown smudges, and stains. Caused by storage, wood, age, humidity and more. Can be especially noticeable in folds. A good soak followed by one of the products below for more stubborn stains, will usually do the trick.

– Ink. Special ink removers are available if a simple soak and spot treatment does not work. Vinegar can be useful as can hairspray. Spot test first.

– Pieces where the dye has run are not necessarily ruined. It requires patience and some elbow grease but they can be saved. If the run is recent, Ritt makes an Excess Dye Remover. However it is not appropriate for all pieces, nor will it always work. If the piece is going to be trashed anyway, you can try bleach with a very weak solution of bleach and water and a Q-Tip. Do not do this unless the item would be thrown away otherwise. Rinse thoroughly and use vinegar n the rinse to help neutralize the bleach. Last resort only!

Stain removal products and tips/tricks

– A mixture of lemon juice and water and let the item dry in the sun. Don’t ever do this for long and always rinse thoroughly afterwards since lemon juice is acidic. Don’t do this on very old and delicate pieces. Same with vinegar. Both work well but require caution. These 2 tricks work well with ‘rust’ so try these before anything more drastic.

– One of the best products available for linens is Restoration made by Engleside Products and available through our website. We cannot recommend this product enough; it is truly great. Follow the directions carefully, and never use it on silk (most of our tips do not apply to silk, the only product for that is LeBlanc’s Silk and Lingerie wash or a good dry cleaner).

– Another very good line of products is LeBlanc Linen Wash. The LeBlanc series smells good and works even better.

– An old family recipe for many Europeans is as follows: to whiten yellowed linens, soak them for 48 hours in a solution of ½ cup sea salt per 1 gallon of water. Rinse carefully and then dry in the sun if possible, on a flat surface.

A few words of caution

– Avoid bleach and products with bleach and optical whiteners. They will damage your items more than they will help them. Bleach destroys fibers by weakening them and generally the damage is not worth the results.

– Do not starch items that will be stored away. Only starch if you are going to use them soon. Starch attracts little bugs known as silverfish. They will feast on it and eat the fabric too!

– Fold items carefully if storing them, and refold often if storing them so that the fold lines don’t weaken the fibers. Store in a dark dry closet (remember the sun bleaches). Never allow linens to come into direct contact with wood and make sure they are stored in a dry place. If you can, store linens in acid-free materials, rolled up in the paper and in a cardboard box (acid-free). Also, do not store your linens in plastic bins or in anything plastic. Linens and textile in generals need to breathe.

+ Shop our newest vintage linens here:

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Touch of Europe 15th Anniversary Contest

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anniversary contest

 

We’ve officially been in business for 15 years. Maybe you have something you purchased from us that long ago. If you think you have the oldest Touch of Europe purchase, send us a photo of the item and a caption including your name and the (best estimated) purchase date!

 

Rules:
-Submit an original photo showing us your first ever Touch of Europe purchase.
Be sure to include your name (at the time of purchase) and the (best estimated) purchase date.
-Photo must be received by Friday, January 15th at 11:59 EST
-By submitting your recipe and/or photos, you give Touch of Europe permission to share your submission on our website, social media accounts, and/or blog. No personal information will be shared.

Ways to Enter (You may do one or all of the following):

First, be sure to “Like” or follow Touch of Europe via the social media platform you are using to enter.

1. Upload your submission to our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/TouchofEurope via a comment or send us a message.

2. Upload your submission to your own Facebook page. *If using this method — Please be sure to mention @touchofeurope and use the official hashtag: #TouchOfEurope in your post, so that we can easily find your submission.

3. Email your submission to wbmgr@touchofeurope.net and we will upload it to social media for you.

Prize:
For this contest, one person will win a $150 Touch of Europe Gift Certificate! The winner will be contacted via official email (with a touchofeurope.net domain attached) or via the social media platform the entry was submitted. Winners have 7 days after being contacted to claim their prize. After this, the contests runner up will be awarded the prize.

*All contestants are automatically entered into our grand prize drawing that will be held on January 18, 2016.

Eligibility:

Open to US residents over 18 years of age. Participants must also have a US mailing address.

Legal:

We will not ask you for your personal information to enter our contests. Please do not provide your email address, mailing address, phone number, or any other personal information on any sites. In the event that you win one of our contests, you will be contacted via an official Touch of Europe email and/or one of our official social media pages.
This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed by, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media platform.

 

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Photo Contest: What Do the Holidays Mean to You?

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Touch of Europe 2015 Holiday Photo Contest. What do the holidays mean to you?

DECEMBER CONTEST: Capture the Holidays!

Prize: $100 Touch of Europe Gift Card

(RUNNING DEC. 7-31)

Capture your favorite thing about the holidays/wintertime in one photo!

$100 Touch of Europe Gift Certificate.

 

Rules:

-Submit an original photo showing us what the holidays mean to you. Examples include (but are certainly not limited to):

A favorite family tradition, experience, etc

A festive picture of your family and friends (no photos of anyone under 18 please)

A favorite holiday postcard or letter

Your holiday tree or holiday décor

Your favorite holiday meal

The winter scenery around you

A shopping adventure

Winter travel photos, etc.

The possibilities are truly endless.

*You do not have to incorporate Touch of Europe products into your photo, but please let us know if you do.

-Photo must be received by December 31st at 11:59 EST

-By submitting your recipe and/or photos, you give Touch of Europe permission to share your submission on our website, social media accounts, and/or blog. No personal information will be shared.

 

Ways to Enter (You may do one or all of the following):

First, be sure to “Like” or follow Touch of Europe via the social media platform you are using to enter.

1. Upload your submission to our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/TouchofEurope via a comment or send us a message.

2. Upload your submission to your own Facebook page. *If using this method — Please be sure to mention @touchofeurope and use the official hashtag: #TouchOfEurope in your post, so that we can easily find your submission.

3. Email your submission to wbmgr@touchofeurope.net and we will upload it to social media for you.

How are winners picked?
Photos will be voted on by our in office team and number of “likes” on Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Instagram

 

Prize:

For this contest, one person will win a $100 Touch of Europe Gift Certificate! The winner will be contacted via official email (with a touchofeurope.net domain attached) or via the social media platform the entry was submitted. Winners have 7 days after being contacted to claim their prize. After this, the contests runner up will be awarded the prize.

*There will be a grand prize drawing held on January 15, 2016 after all contests have ended.

 

Eligibility:

Open to US residents over 18 years of age. Participants must also have a US mailing address.

 

Legal:

No purchase necessary. All Touch of Europe contests are free to enter. Any site requiring that you pay a fee to participate is fraudulent and should be reported.

We will not ask you for your personal information to enter our contests. Please do not provide your email address, mailing address, phone number, or any other personal information on any sites. In the event that you win one of our contests, you will be contacted via an official Touch of Europe email and/or one of our official social media pages.

This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed by, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media platform.

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Contest: Show Off Your Best Holiday Table

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BEST HOLIDAY TABLE CONTEST

Prize: $75 Touch of Europe Gift Card

(RUNNING NOV. 18 – NOV. 30)

 

11.17.15-Contest-three-best-table

Send us a photo of your best holiday table for a chance to win a
$75 Touch of Europe Gift Certificate

 

Rules:

-Table must include items purchased from Touch of Europe. Vintage linens, Le Cadeaux dinnerware, table décor, tabletop accessories, etc.

-Photo must be received by November 30th at 11:59 EST

-By submitting your recipe and/or photos, you give Touch of Europe permission to share your submission on our website, social media accounts, and/or blog. No personal information will be shared.

Ways to Enter (You may do one or all of the following):

First, be sure to “Like” or follow Touch of Europe via the social media platform you are using to enter.

  1. Upload your submission to our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/TouchofEurope via a comment or send us a message.
  2. Upload your submission to your own Facebook page. *If using this method — Please be sure to mention @touchofeurope and use the official hashtag: #TouchOfEurope in your post, so that we can easily find your submission.
  3. Email your submission to wbmgr@touchofeurope.net and we will upload it to social media for you.


How are winners picked?

Photos will be voted on by our in office team and number of “likes” on Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Instagram

Prize:

For this contest, one person will win a $75 Touch of Europe Gift Certificate! The winner will be contacted via official email (with a touchofeurope.net domain attached) or via the social media platform the entry was submitted. Winners have 7 days after being contacted to claim their prize. After this, the contests runner up will be awarded the prize.

*There will be a grand prize drawing held on January 15, 2016 after all contests have ended.

Eligibility:

Open to US residents over 18 years of age. Participants must also have a US mailing address.

Legal:

No purchase necessary. All Touch of Europe contests are free to enter. Any site requiring that you pay a fee to participate is fraudulent and should be reported.

We will not ask you for your personal information to enter our contests. Please do not provide your email address, mailing address, phone number, or any other personal information on any sites. In the event that you win one of our contests, you will be contacted via an official Touch of Europe email and/or one of our official social media pages.

This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed by, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media platform.

Check out our Pin To Win contest. Also running through November 30, 2015.

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Gourmet Recipes Submitted By You!

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saladrecipe

Last week, we posted a ‘Best Recipe’ contest – and boy, did the contest participants deliver. Shown above is the winning submission (Cucumber Fennel Salad by Katie S), which uses Edmond Fallot Fig Flavored Vinegar From Burgundy, Barral Extra Virgin Olive Oil , and Abeille Occitane Orange Blossom Honey. Like this recipe, each recipe submission received incorporated gourmet ingredients sold at Touch of Europe in such a unique way (as you’ll see below).

 


 

HimSaltRecipe

 

Himalayan Salt Sticks by Jane Brothers. Uses Himalayan Pink Salt


NESSELRODE PIE

Nesselrode Pie by Kristina G. Uses Clement Faugier Ardeche Creme de Marrons Chestnut Spread


Areli

Wild Rice Sweet & Spicy Spring Rolls by Areli Valles Biggers (Vegetarian recipe)

Ingredients and measurements:

*8 rice paper wrappers 1 cup Cooked Wild Rice 1 cup jicama (julienne style) 1 cup carrots (julienne style) 1/4 cup Favols Apple Tatin Jam 9 oz,1/2 cup Moulin St Michel Vallee des Baux AOC Extra Virgin Olive (divided 1/4 + 1/4)l 2 limes 2 tbsp. soy sauce 1tbsp Red Peppers Chutney with Espelette Chili 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro Red pepper flakes sauce Salt

Directions: For the Rolls Season jicama and carrots with ½ lime, soy sauce and salt (do not mix them). Mis rice with salt, 1/4 oil, lime and soy sauce.Run rice paper wrapper on warm water for a few seconds (30) or until soft, place on kitchen towel, do the rest. Assemble the wrappers by placing a spoon full of wild rice, carrots, jicama and cilantro, close and roll tightly. Continue assemble the rest of the wrappers. For the Sauce Mix apple jam, rest olive oil, soy sauce,lime and salt. Sprinkle sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Cut Spring rolls diagonally, sprinkle some soy sauce, sesame seeds. Serve with apple sauce mixture and Red Peppers Chutney with Espelette Chili * Tip place two wrappers together for a tightly roll if desire. All vegetarian recipe. Serves 4.

(Hungry yet? Keep reading!)


fig & honey goat cheese tartFig & Honey Goat Cheese Tart by Lisa Newsome

Ingredients
Crust

6 cups Cinnamon Chex®
1 cup gluten-free flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

Filling

8 ounces goat cheese
4 ounces lite cream cheese, softened
2-3 heaping teaspoons Fig Jam, or to taste
1 jar honey
8 large figs

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350˚.
Make the crust: In a food processor, combine the Cinnamon Chex®, flour & sugar…pulse till the Cinnamon Chex® are completely pulverized & you have a fine, dry mixture (a)…add the butter, pulsing again until the butter is fully incorporated (b). Pour the crust into a 10 to 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom…push the crust crumbs into all the sides & bottom of the pan (c)…bake the crust 20 minutes (d).
Make the filling: combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, fig jam, & a smidge of honey in a food processor (a) & blend until smooth (b). Taste the blended mixture to decide whether you have enough jam & honey…add a little more of either or both, depending on your personal taste. Pour the goat cheese mixture into the crust & spread evenly (c).
Thinly slice the figs & lay the slices on top of the goat cheese mixture.
Drizzle honey over the figs & goat cheese.
Refrigerate the Fig & Honey Goat Cheese Tart for at least 2 hours before serving.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll by Crystal Sell

PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE ROLL
Powdered sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Alsa Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup 100% pure pumpkin

Filling
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 15x10x1 inch jelly-roll pan; line with parchment or waxed paper. Grease and flour paper; set aside. Arrange clean thin, cotton kitchen towel on counter; sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Combine eggs and sugar in large bowl; beat until thickened. Add pumpkin; beat until well mixed. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts, if desired.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto prepared towel. Remove pan; carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake in towel while hot, starting with 10-inch side. Cool completely on wire rack.
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, softened butter and vanilla in small bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic food wrap; refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.


Have a recipe that uses gourmet ingredients sold at Touch of Europe?

Leave it in the comments below. We’d love to try it!

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