Collector’s Corner: Linens for Tea

Collector's Corner: Linens for Tea
Machine-appliquéd set that began the collection; date unknown.

It all started when I began shopping estate sales. I went to a friend’s house whose family was having an estate sale for their friend Mrs. Preston. I picked up my first tea linen set and was intrigued by the size and color of it. I asked the ladies at the sale what the set was used for, and they both said that it was used for tea. That day was the start of my tea linen collection.

I love the delicate lace, handwork, and beauty of tea linen sets. Most of my collection can be used year-round, but I do have some seasonal sets for spring, summer, and fall. I have a total of 49 sets, which include 14 in varying shades of blue. They are all different! Some of the ensembles in my collection have delicate cutwork with embroidery around the edge of the tablecloths and the napkins. They come in various sizes, ranging from a small 32-inch square tablecloth to a larger 45×44-inch one. The napkins that match the sets are different sizes also.