Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a real fascination with house linen. If it’s part of someone’s trousseau, that’s even better. I love looking at bed sheets, pillow cases, tablecloths, linen hand towels, placemats — I like unfolding them, touching them and asking questions: who has embroidered it? who has commissioned it? who has used it? what’s it for? My mother was lucky enough to still have her bed linen embroidered by nuns (did that still exist in the 1960s? I want that too!). I confess I don’t much care for lace but give me hand-drawn hems, broderie anglaise and satin stitch and you’ll make me a very happy woman indeed.
I’ve already told you that I received a full china set over the years but as much as I am thankful and appreciate it, sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t have preferred an old-fashioned trousseau. Things like wonderful tablecloths, lots of hand-embroidered bed sheets, the lot. Do you think I’m crazy?
When the time came to choose a wedding present for my dear friend Mafalda, I thought I’d give her bed linen. She doesn’t like quilts and my mother had already given her an embroidered tablecloth so my options were quite limited. I bought one plain sheet and two pillowcases (the best quality ones I could find in Lisbon) and stitched an eyelet panel over the edges. I think the set turn out both beautiful and practical for daily living (truth is, frills and ribbons and elaborated embroideries are a pain to wash and iron). Of course there’s much more refined bed linen available out there (you simply have to pop into Paris em Lisboa) and naturally nothing beats an antique bed sheet that used to belong to your great-grandmother, but I was pleased with this gift. I sincerely hope she likes it (and her husband as well)!
(photos: Constança Cabral)