Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cottage Style Party - Embroidered Tea Towels

 I think any cottage is not complete without hand embroidered dish towels. My mother and grandmother called them Tea Towels

In the late 1800s the tea towel was very important in the great British tea ceremony. There it was combined with the finest crystal and chinaware and was designed to match the rest of the table linen. Often it was wrapped around the tea pot to insulate it, used to prevent drips or  draped over bread, scones and cakes to keep them fresh.

They were originally used just to clean teapots and delicate tea china.

The first reference in print is from 1863:
                   "Anna said she was going to keep house
                   exactly as Grandmother did, so after supper
                   she took a little hot water in a basin on a
                    tray and got  the tea-towels and washed
                    the silver and best china but she let the 
                    ivory handles on the knives and forks
                   get wet, so I presume they will all turn black."

I've embroidered many sets of Tea Towels over the years - I love the old Aunt Martha patterns.  Funny thing - you can buy them on ebay for 5.00 to 8.00 EACH - and yet all the old patterns are still available from Colonial Patterns  for $1.50 each.   I have lots of the patterns and still like to spend time stitching Tea Towels.

I made this set for me, after seeing it on a friend's blog.  I had such fun finding fabric for the bonnet,trim on the skirts and a border on the bottom of each Tea Towel.

Another of my favorites is this set of birdies, day of the week.

I started this pair of Tea Towels when I was 16 - they are kind of outdated now - but I have to say I like them simply because of when I made them.
Do you have some hand embroidered Tea Towels?   Did you make them or were they a gift?


The Weaver of Grass said...

They are not really in fashion in the UK but in days gone by folk embroidered tray cloths and I have a drawer full of them.

Judy D in WA said...

I love your tea towels-esp. the rooster and hen! I haven't done any is a very long time. Every week, at our group, my friend works on hers and I love to watch her. I love seeing Aunt Martha designs in the stores. Brings back sweet memories of choosing which ones to do next.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

JoAnn, those are so charming! You did a great job with all of them!


Sheila :-)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

My Grandma and Mom embroidered tons of white cotton tea towels back in the day. I still have a set of white pillowcases that I embroidered kittens on when I was about 12. Love those "classic" embroidery designs!

Peggy said...

No hand-embroidered tea towels sadly! Not my thing to do, but yours are fabulous! And how nice to have some that bring back memories.

Mary said...

Goodness gracious Joann, what memories this amazing, beautiful collection of tea towels brings back to me - those are so much like the ones I used to make as a young teen when learning hand embroidery. As Pat (Ms.Weaver) mentioned, Irish linen tray cloths were also very popular to embroider - to sit all those teapots and cups and saucers on - and I have just one of those left which I made when I was very young. The threads have faded and frayed a bit but I will keep it to pass along! I also have two gorgeous tablecloths made by my mother, embroidered cutwork - I must post again on them some day - I think I did a post years ago on my former blog.

I linked to your lovely post on my post today (Tea time in Vermont) as I would love readers who may not know you yet to come visit and see your handiwork Joann.

Happy day dear - Mary

Trisha said...

I don't have any but I wish that I did...they are so adorable! I really need to learn how to embroider because I love these!


Latane Barton said...

In years past I did those embroidered tea towels and this post makes me want to do them again.

Lorrie said...

Your tea towels are so lovely, JoAnn - heirloom quality, I'd say. Love the rooster and and saucy hen. As a teenager I used to babysit for a family of two little girls and when I married, the mom embroidered a set of daily tea towels for a shower gift. I think I still have one of them that I saved. I have a tea tray cloth embroidered by my mother-in-law and a few unfinished projects of my own.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Your tea towels are so charming. I am visiting from Mary's blog, A Breathe of Fresh Air.

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

JoAnn, those are all just so darling. Your workmanship looks superb. I am drawn to the birdies, though. I remember by grandmother calling dishtowels, tea towels. I really enjoyed seeing them all..Happy Wednesday..Judy

Kay said...

These are so sweet! They're very nicely done. I have a very nice set that I got as a wedding gift...and never have used them. I've used ordinary towels with my tea and haven't been able to get rid of tea stains on them so the good stuff doesn't get used.

Wildflowerhouse said...

Your stitching is beautiful. I have several that my mom made but they are getting very fragile. So they are tucked away for memories sake. I am sending you an email.. Be on the lookout for it.

Happy@Home said...

Hi JoAnn,
I'm visiting from Mary's blog today. So glad she pointed me in this direction as I adore days of the week tea towels. Yours are so pretty.
I have one set with birds on them. I didn't make them myself. Instead I won them in a silent auction that the Habitat for Humanity was holding. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to be the winner.

Pondside said...

What pretty tea towels, JoAnn! I have similar ones from my mum. Up here we call our kitchen cloths tea towels as well.

Marilyn Miller said...

Mary sent me here and I am glad she did. I love your tea towels.
Also didn't know there was a PNW Bloggers organization. How
do I join? I have been blogging for 6 years from Portland, OR and
didn't know this.

Julie Fukuda said...

I do have some tea towels and aprons embroidered by my mother-in-law but when one lives with a champion spill-king, they don't come out all that often. I use cheap Japanese towels that are used for advertising and even they are badly stained.

Tea in the Library said...

Love the quote. Your tea towels are lovely - I am thinking of the pride one would take in them. I alas have no skill with the needle and thread. My tea towel is usually an IKEA dish towel called in to service above it's station. Great post.

Powell River Books said...

You do beautiful handwork. I have so many lovely embroidered things from my grandmother. In her later years she sat and sewed for hours on end. She also loved to do needlepoint, so many of the chairs my dad refinished for me have needlepoint seats. I love seeing them and remembering what a wonderful grandma she was. - Margy

Henning said...

I've embroidered many sets of Tea Towels over the years - I love the old Aunt Martha patterns. Funny thing - you can buy them on ebay for 5.00 ...

Vintage Keepsakes said...

Love all your beautifully stitched towels. I love to make them and use them; or just display them in my home.