the french wedding trousseau

by Sharon Santoni
[blank]The many beautiful monogrammed sheets and table linen that I am so fortunate to find here, are all the reminders of the 19th century wedding trousseau. [blank]
[blank]A bride was expected to bring to her new home a certain number of bed sheets, night dresses,  napkins and table cloths.  All home spun, home sewn and and home embroidered.   The usual number of pieces to send off with the bride would have been twelve of each, but in well to do families, a nice round hundred was not unheard of. [blank]
[blank]Of course in those wealthier families, it wasn’t the future bride or her mother embroidering and sewing the trousseau; a large family would typically have a live-in seamstress … with very good eyes![blank]
[blank]And the precious linens were kept under lock and key,  in the traditional decorative wardrobe called an armoire, whose doors swung open to reveal piles of neatly folded heavy linens, ruffles of delicate lace, and countless napkins and dish cloths.  The key to open this treasure trove was generally kept safely tied around Madame’s waist![blank]
[blank]Now and again I come across a complete ‘batch’ of never-used nightdresses,  all in the most beautiful linen, and embroidered at the opening with the young women’s initials.  Why never worn?  who knows…. maybe she passed early, maybe the wedding was called off, maybe she ate too much wedding cake and outgrew the gowns![blank]
[blank] But the monogrammes were not always huge and fancy; on aprons and teacloths, or on the heavier homespun sheets they are often quite small and discreet, often just a simple red cross stitch.  Here the use of the monogramme was more practical than decorative, so that come wash day, maids could keep track of their mistresses linen, when the village washing was being rinsed collectively at the wash house.[blank]

[blank] Not that wash day happened that often.  And you can understand why!   No machines, everything soaped, rubbed and rinsed by hand.  While today we wash our clothes and house linens several times each week, in the 19th century, it was more like two or three times a year!  Hmmm, they must have smelled lovely![blank]

[blank]French linens;  to love and – most of all – to use every day![blank]



Laurie October 15, 2013 - 6:36 pm

What a great history lesson. Beautiful antique/vintage linens are some of my favorite things. Now they will mean so much more!

Anonymous October 15, 2013 - 6:57 pm

Hi Sharon,
Lovely… I agree with you …"to use every day " that's the only way to enjoy them. They are pieces of life.Please don't stop to show us such wonderful treasures.

Heather Robinson October 15, 2013 - 7:12 pm

Oh this was so beautiful but somehow bittersweet–it made me long for the beauty of yesteryear in the everyday. Ok, perhaps noooot the lack of washing part but the rest is just so amazing. No wonder you do what you do!

vicki archer October 15, 2013 - 7:17 pm

I use my linens everyday… and for some greedy reason… I seem never to have enough… 🙂

Phyllis Stanko October 15, 2013 - 7:26 pm

Your linens are the most beautiful that I have ever seen, so sweet and unique…you have the most beautiful treasures there, I can only imagine them in a linen cupboard, they would be so lovely, thanks for sharing…Phyllis

Laura @ 52 FLEA October 15, 2013 - 8:03 pm

A beautiful post Sharon … I treasure my antique linens so much. Thanks for the reminder to use them even more than I do. Your photos of these treasures are lovely! Any special tips for laundering?

lilac and old roses October 15, 2013 - 8:04 pm

What a beautiful post, such treasures and you can just imagine the stories behind the linens. Worthy of a book I think! Going to read your French country wedding post now. My daughter is getting married next may, so hoping for some ideas!

The Blue Farmhouse October 15, 2013 - 9:10 pm

Beautiful…I love linens too but I have a quick questions. How do you get them so white and when you finds linens that have folding stains (you know those brown stains) how do you remove them? Thanks:)


Kassandra October 16, 2013 - 2:51 am

This is soooooooo beautiful!!! Made me dream of past delicious times… I agree with you: we should use them more often!!! (for laundry, girls… soft soap, warm water and LOTS of air and sun is the simple recipe that works for me)
Thanks for sharing, my heart sings with this!

Anonymous October 16, 2013 - 3:09 am

Je suis votre blog chaque jour et je tiens à vous féliciter pour la manière dont vos textes accompagnent vos photos. Votre page d'aujourd'hui en est un exemple parfait: texte informatif (avec un brin d'humour : maybe she ate too much cake and outgrew the gowns!) et photos qui font sentir le passé des femmes ayant brodé ces trousseaux et également votre amour de ce lin tissé il y a bien des lunes…
Un réel plaisir que celui d'admirer votre travail chaque jour. Merci!

Katherine October 16, 2013 - 4:35 am

We have purchased an Antique French Trousseau Armoire for our new bedroom – so hearing the story behind the linens that filled these beautiful cabinets is so special. I need to select some linens like this these to put in to the cupboard – and to enjoy.

Lorrie October 16, 2013 - 6:32 am

This is a wonderful post. Beautiful linens with some history thrown in. Love it. Those little red cross stitch monogrammes are so sweet.

Colleen Taylor October 16, 2013 - 6:36 am

What a wonderful & beautiful post Sharon…the memories it brings back to me. My mother & my aunt actually embroidered by hand linens like this. My mother still does embroider & does tatting on linens. I have a number of linens similar to this. These are impeccable & oh so to be treasured! XO

Rowan October 16, 2013 - 6:48 am

Thanks Sharon, I read youir post with pleasure. I could visualise in my mind's eye, the life that some of these women lived, in the 19th century. How different it was from the life we take for granted. Then again the girls from wealthy families didn't have the need of washing machines and boutiques to buy from. They just gave the orders and the items magically appeared washed, ironed and embroidered! Gorgeous photos of those embroidered linens!
Deborah from Melbourne.

martinealison October 16, 2013 - 7:10 am


Un billet qui me ramène des souvenirs… Ma grand-mère était brodeuse et me brodait tous mes sous-vêtements d'enfant. C'était vraiment très beau et délicat. Elle brodait également merveilleusement bien les monogrammes qu'elle crayonnait avant l'exécution, je m'en souviens encore.
J'ai conservé un grand nombre des oeuvres qu'elle a produit… J'écris ainsi car j'assimile cela à de l'art qui malheureusement s'est perdu…
Un très joli billet.

Gros bisou

Penny October 16, 2013 - 10:15 am

Such beautiful linen, I would dearly love to own one, but as at my age a trip to Fance is probably not possible, I love to see the photos you put up.

david terry October 16, 2013 - 10:49 am

Those are beautiful photographs, Sharon. Thank you.

Not entirely by the way (since monograms were mentioned)?….

Am I the only person here who knows of a woman (she's the friend of a friend who told me of the woman's unavoidable wedding dilemna) whose name is "Frances Katharine" and who is about to marry a man whose surname is "Underwood"?

You KNOW what the monogram would be. I said "you're making that up…..aren't you?", and my friend assured me that she wasn't. I suggested that the bride-to-be recasll that monograms just really aren't that essential anymore.

—-david terry

Prince Snow Farm October 16, 2013 - 12:27 pm

I have such a love for vintage monogrammed pieces….I cannot help but think of the previous owner and how it was used. Thanks for the gorgeous images!

The enchanted home October 16, 2013 - 12:49 pm

These are so gorgeous. What beautiful treasures from the past!

Niki October 16, 2013 - 1:37 pm

How I love these linens! They are so beautiful. Each one with a story to tell. If only they could talk!

Ellen October 16, 2013 - 2:06 pm

I very much enjoyed this lovely post. The photos are gorgeous! And I loved hearing about the history of the trousseau linens.

Colleen for Swede Collection October 16, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Sharon, Looks like you have collected a fabulous array of beautiful linens. They do make one's heart sing.

Anonymous October 16, 2013 - 5:47 pm

I still keep some old pillowcases of my great grandmother embroided and monogrammed with her initials but do not use them just unfold sometimes and wonder what would remain for our great grand daughters from our times.Definitely no linen! Dorka from the rainy Plain in Hungary

Anonymous October 16, 2013 - 6:10 pm

Sharon: French linens are beautiful. Not all of us can afford to purchase them… use everyday…….A.

Delphine Basson October 16, 2013 - 7:55 pm

Superbe ! J'adore ! Merci.

Curtains in My Tree October 16, 2013 - 11:16 pm

they are beautiful and I have an american set of 18th century pillow cases that looks very similar maybe they are French also ? that would be so nice to know
can you imagine starting out with sets of 100's ? wow
I love the large monograms

Anonymous October 17, 2013 - 3:04 am

What a wonderful collection. I am obsessed with french linen sheets and all linen. Unfortunately, here in the US I am not able to find. I have searched for years looking for these wonderful linens. Should you come across linen sheets in your brocante hunting, would you be willing to add them to your shop for me to purchase. It would be greatly appreciated. Janet A.

Castles Crowns and Cottages October 17, 2013 - 12:53 pm

Ahhh….très joli, Madame! Je voudrais avoir une telle collection! Anita

April April 1, 2015 - 4:31 pm

I have some linens that are hand embroidered and have crocheted edges from when I lived in Brazil. I never use them because I don’t know how to wash them and keep them white white white. So they stay put up. Any tips or tricks?

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