Spot Removal Techniques, Washing & Caring, Double vs Single Damask..how to tell the difference, History of, Variations of, Ironing
There are never any material tags on Vintage Irish Linen tablecloths. They came with paper tags, not material ones that we use today. The customer would buy the fabric and they would have to cut and hem it themselves. Usually, only the two short ends were hemmed, the long sides were left as is. Sometimes ladies would hem all four sides and put in a pretty row of hemstitching. Don't confuse drawn thread work with hemstitching. Drawn thread is more elaborate and somewhat fragile. Hemstitching involves pulling out a few threads and counting and tying and will hold up just fine without any special care.
Which is stronger Double Damask or Single Damask:
My opinion is neither. They used the same amount of threads to make single and double damask. Double damask is woven by passing filling threads over seven warp threads and under one verses single damask which is bound down every fifth thread. Today we think along the lines of "thread count". Well, the same amount of thread is used in single and double so that is not an issue.
How to tell the difference between double and single damask:
Most people believe that the shinier tablecloths are double damask and the other ones are single. That is not true. You can only make basic patterns with single damask. So, when you see one with just shamrocks on it or something simple like that it is single damask. When you see a good pattern around the edge and a different on inside and elaborate designs it's double damask. Shininess has to do with the mill and the processes that were used to make it. Some are shinier than others due to the maker.
Variations in Irish Linen:
All Irish Linen is and was made in Ireland. However, Russia made their own version of Irish Linen. They are pretty rare. They are much thicker than Irish Linen made in Ireland and they are usually hemstitched around the edges and they usually have a tag.
Washing and caring for Irish Linen:
First of all, do not take them to the dry cleaners. I have tried and tried. I even took some to specialty cleaners and everything. It tried washing them and letting them press them. Don't do it. I don't care who they are they will tear them up. Don't use any special cleaners with this fabric. You know the linen wash and all those other special cleaners they make for vintage linens. I have tried them all and they just don't do well with this fabric. Spray and wash works. I like the stick spray and wash. It seems to work better than the spray. Oxy clean works. You can use oxy clean and spray and wash together. I say this because some products counter act one another, these two don't. I have yet to see a spot that didn't come out of Irish linen, well, maybe a few but for some reason spots just come right out. Even red spaghetti sauce. Clorox bleach works. Clorox is harmful on a fabric so you save it as a last resort. I mean if you have a spot that you have tried everything else on and it's still there, well, then you use it. One word of caution, Clorox will continue to process after it is washed and dried. So the trick is to bleach it and then rewash it to get out all the Clorox. I say Clorox because the generic brands do not work the same. You would be surprised what good old hot water will get out. So, here is what I do when I'm trying to get out a spot. First I put spray and wash stick on the spots. Then I get out my bean pot and boil some water. Then I put it in my sink and add the tablecloth and three or four scoops of oxy clean and some non brightening detergent, or just use Palmolive. I say this because brightening detergents are harmful to fabrics. When it's cool I put it in the corner and just let it soak. I go check it the next day. Here is the deal, you can let it soak in oxy clean as long as you want. It won't tear up the fabric. You can stir it every once in a while. You can put more spray and wash on it. After three days if the spot is still there I would boil some more water and put on some more spray and wash (if it's a greasy spot use 409). Then add Biz and let it soak. If that doesn't work boil some water, put on spray and wash and add powder cascade. Yes, the kind you use for your dishes. Stir well and let soak a 2 or 3 hours. Powder cascade has a little bit of bleach in it so be sure it's dissolved. If that doesn't work do spray and wash and Clorox in your washer. Use a couple cups of it. I don't add bleach direct. I use a picture and water it down before I add it to the wash. Pre soak for 15 minutes with the bleach and then put some in your bleach cup in your washer.
Ironing damask linen:
The steam from your iron is not enough. You have to spritz it with water to get out the wrinkles.
I have lots of Irish linen in my ebay store and list more of them every week. Here is a link:
If you don't see the right size just keep watching, I will eventually have the perfect one for your table.