Figural linens told me: People matter!

Life Lesson #23: People are important; everyone matters!


Figural linens and laces are ones that have images of people, animals, birds, mythological creatures, urns of flowers, etc. incorporated into the design.

redwork fountain



In a few days I’ll show you this entire piece. It’s amazing!



I love them!  Some of my favorites include people–like this Southern Belle from my personal collection…

southern belle


…or these two collages of fun ones from Kerry.  As I expected, you wonderful readers here at My Place have left some nice comments saying how glad you are to be introduced to Kerry. I hope you’re checking out her blog and Etsy shop, too!



Thanks again, Kerry, for letting me supplement my pics with some of yours!

figural linens


Some of you may remember seeing this antique damask napkin. It’s a figural, too, but I only consider it a “person” because it depicts a family crest–a royal one, in fact… and because one of the *set* of napkins has a royal monogram. How I wish I knew who actually owned this piece… royal crest


I  re-discovered this little guy the other day. I was saving him for “someday”–in case I had a grandson.


Um… Those of you who follow life here at My Place know that I did indeed have a grandson–four years ago!  And now, Daughter the Younger and my Favorite Fatigue Wearer have a second precious little boy at their house–and have for the past 18 months!


Don’t you think it’s about time I did something with this piece?

flag boy

July 4, 2014: If I haven’t done something with it by then, it has to go to someone else.


I really love the “fancy” figurals. These linen guest towels feature a courting couple of machine-made lace.

courting couple


This one, on the other hand, is exquisite … and entirely handmade.  The style of embroidery is called Appenzell. It’s pristine white, but I darkened it so you can see the design better.Appenzel linen


I especially treasure this piece because when I found it at a thrift shop–for $3– there was a dime-sized, heavy blob of dark blue ink just above the design. For all practical purposes, the towel was ruined.


At the time, I had only recently discovered Carbona Stain Devils and thought perhaps I could get out the ink. I guessed it was worth a $3 gamble.


Ha! Today I wouldn’t even hesitate. I’d grab that gorgeous and run to the checkout counter! I know I can get out an ink spot! (So can you. Just check out my How to Care for Vintage Linens & Lace series to learn my tricks.)


So what do all these “people” figurals have to do with a life lesson? I’m glad you asked…


When I see figural linens, I always wonder *who* the person was–both the person who designed and sewed the piece…and the person depicted in the design. Obviously the designer was a real person, but what about the other one?


Was the person so meticulously stitched in perpetuity simply a design element… or a once living, breathing being? Was the image chosen because it was a popular style of the day…or because it held a special memory for the seamstress?


What?  You don’t wonder those things?


Figural designs of people in linens remind me that people are important. They remind me that everyone matters. Everyone–from royalty to working men and women to stay-at-home moms to young children. We all have the same Creator who loves each one of us–equally. Surely I can learn to do the same.


And the ink spot that supposedly translated into “ruin”? Well, over the past several years, I’ve been blessed to have a front row seat when it comes to seeing “ruined” lives transformed into things of beauty. I’ve shared some of those stories of Hope with you here–and I’ll share more in the future.


Who knew a piece of cloth with a fancy woman embroidered on it could stir up so many memories…


Do you have any figural linens? Do you like the ones with people–I’ll admit, they sometimes look kinda “funky”–or do you prefer another design? Have your linens been teaching you any life lessons lately?


31 Days 2013-001

This is part of a 31-day series.  If you missed previous Life Lessons, they’re available HERE.


  1. I love vintage linens but often shy away due to spots, so nice to know there is a solution!

    • Cindy, the Carbona Stain Devils products are great for specific stains, but for general storage/oxidation stains, I always start with Restoration Linen Cleaner. It’s available in mhy Etsy shop. (There’s a link on my sidebar as well as at the Vintage Linens tab.) It is THE BEST product I’ve ever used for getting old linens back into circulation.

      For many more laundry tips, check out the How to Care for Vintage Linens and Lace series I did. Beyond that, I’m always here to help! Feel free to send questions if you have them.

  2. Hi Susan,

    Great post! I also wanted to let you know that I used my blog today to suggest people visit yours:


  3. I do love figural linens, and I have a few. I love imagining the lives before me.

    Susan, you should link some of your Betsy items with us at Blog Shop. You have such lovely things, and it is free traffic.

  4. you have made me look at linens…I love all yours and can’t wait to check out the shop you introduced, those tea towels are wonderful