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Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Superior Quality Linen Blanks for Embroidery

 

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For years, I’ve been dreaming about how nice it would be to have superior quality linen blanks available here in the US for hand embroidery.

What are “blanks”? You might hear the term more frequently in the machine embroidery world than in the hand embroidery world.

Blanks are pre-made items that are ready to be embroidered, and they are a popular part of the machine embroidery industry. Think: baby bibs, kitchen towels, aprons, blankets, table cloths, table runners, cloth napkins, tote bags, sun visors, beach towels, and a gazillion other textile items ripe for personalization via an embroidery machine.

Because machine embroidery is pretty popular in the US (and around the world), these kinds of blanks are fairly widely available. You can find them in most hobby / craft big-box stores, and you can order a wide array of them online from all kinds of sources.

Blanks range in quality, from really poor quality to high quality when made by small boutique or bespoke businesses that focus on producing quality goods with quality materials.

Unfortunately, though, when it comes to blanks made from linen, these days the majority tend to be pretty poor quality, as they are mostly imported from China where they don’t have a whole lot of oversight in production and they don’t begin with quality material. From the fabric to the finished blanks, they just aren’t all that great. If you’ve ever worked with them, laundered them, embroidered them – you know what I mean! They usually aren’t the kind of linen that wears well with time.

I’m not certain that my dream of having ready-to-stitch, high-quality linen blanks available in the US is feasible. Still, I’ve always thought it worth trying, and to that end, last year, I took the plunge.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

Last year, after testing some samples, I special ordered an array of pre-made linen blanks from Europe to offer in my shop.

I started with a selection of sizes: 8″ square cocktail napkins (which can also be used as small accent linens); 18″ square formal dinner napkins (which are also used as decorative table toppers or centerpiece linens); 36″ square tablecloths / tea cloths; and 18″ x 48″ table runners.

I already knew the base cloth that I wanted, but I had to choose colors. I played it safe with white and natural.

I had them machine hem-stitched (“punched”) with different hem depths to match the proportions of the finished linen.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

All of the linens have the “Masters of European Linen” guarantee, that the linen is made entirely in Europe and traceable from field to finish, with quality oversight every step of the way.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

The linens are machine hemstitched (this is called “punched” hemstitch, or just “punched”), and all the corners have lovely miters.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

The small 8″ squares feature a 1/2″ hem.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

The 18″ squares feature a 5/8″ hem.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

The 36″ square tea / table cloths and the 18″ x 48″ table runners feature a 1 1/8″ hem.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

The larger the linen, the more weight there is to it, of course.

The smaller 8″ squares are smaller and lighter, and they tend to be a little stiffer because of their small size, which makes them great for cocktail napkins (for under a cocktail glass or a small plate – monogrammed, a set of them would make such an elegant wedding gift!), but they also work quite well as small accents for under a vase or statue – much like what we did with this Stitch Snippet stitch-along, only you don’t have to do the finishing. (The linen is also finer, with a much higher thread count.)

In the photo above, you can see two of the 18″ square linens, folded, and, while the linen is not a heavy-weight linen, there is a definite “weight” to the folded piece that just feels right. It reminds me of fine, old linens that you come across in antique stores.

These 18″ squares are the size of formal dinner napkins, but they are also used for accent linens for the center of large tables or as a table topper / cloth on smaller accent tables. I use this size square, turned on the diagonal, as an accent linen on a craftsman-style buffet in my entry way.

Linen Blanks for Hand Embroidery

The table runners are perfect for the center of a dining table and a fabulous way to add seasonal decor to your table settings.

Both the white and natural can be embroidered in any color palette for any season.

Personally, I love the natural for autumn and winter. Evergreens and reds look great on it, as do the glowing, fiery colors of autumn. I also like the natural for white-on-natural embroidery. I’m thinking a few snowflakes in white on natural for winter would look really pretty, and I’ve started playing around with that idea.

Test stitching evergreen on white embroidery

Last fall, I started test stitching some evergreen on an 18″ white square, to use in my entry way this winter. It’s in my project bag as we speak, and I plan to have it finished before the first Christmas music wafts over the airways.

Blanks are a Blank Canvas

Perhaps one of the best aspects of an embroidery blank is the fact that it is a blank canvas. You can stitch any design you want on it, whether you draw your own designs or find designs that you like in books, in a set of transfers, or in any place you find inspiration. You can use monograms, if you like to personalize with initials.

Your design can be simple, complex, elegant, playful, bold, delicate – whatever type of design you want!

And once you’ve stitched a blank, it’s ready to go. You don’t have to do the finish work, because it’s already done for you.

Where to Find Them

At the moment, I have a very limited supply of these beautiful linen embroidery blanks available here in my shop.

If you have longed for a table cloth, runner, or other pre-made linen goods to embroider, made out of some of the best linen available today, and that will withstand the test of time, then these linens are for you!

 
 

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(3) Comments

  1. I have enjoyed linen from fabric-store but I would love not having to hemstitch it myself…takes forever! I would be interested in placemats

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  2. I received my blanks that other day. They are gorgeous! I know they are a bit pricey but you’ll never find better quaility. There’s nothing better than Italian embroidery linen.

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