Updating Vintage Linens

Want to find a use for your mother's or grandmother's linen napkins?  Transform them with dye.

 I buy vintage linens through online auctions and I often get many sets of small cocktail or tea napkins in the lot.  They are pretty but not that appealing to most people because they are generally white or ivory and seem delicate for regular use.  Dyeing them a darker colour or with a pattern transforms them completely.  This is what a typical vintage napkin might look like:

This set has mitred corners and is totally plain.  I dyed two sets of these in shibori patterns.  The black and white set is a classic spider web pattern-I bound the centre square with string and left the border so that it would be all black.  I also added the machine embroidery.

This other set was similar but it had a nice open work design around the centre.  I basted a circle in the centre and then folded it into a triangle.  Wood blocks help to keep the dye from saturating the whole piece.  I dipped these ones in indigo.

I have also dyed napkins that have lace or embroidered edges.  I generally dye this type in a solid colour like these ones:

Or this set of slightly larger napkins:

You probably only use cocktail napkins when you have guests but pretty cloth ones make a great alternative to paper and they will last for years.


Linking up with:

Finding Silver Pennies

Coastal Charm

Play Dates Parties

Seeking Lavender Lane

Pieced Pastimes

The Blogger's Pit Stop

Nifty Thrifty Things



Older Post Newer Post


  • There has been some interest in this post, so we will feature it to get you some more exposure.
    Kind regards,
    Blogger’s Pit Stop

    Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle

  • Wish I had seen this before I donated all the soiled antique linens I was given. Great ideas! Visiting from Nifty Thrifty party.

    Victoria @DazzleWhileFrazzled

  • Candy ( thanks for commenting. I buy my linens at auctions-I hope your dyeing turns out well.

    UWF Textiles

  • I am doing the ones with the lace edging, swear we have the same napkins from our moms. Found you at Bloggers Pit Stop.


Leave a Comment