Collecting: Vintage Tablecloths

With the weather around here as beautiful as it is today, the look of Summer with the breeze of Spring, I think of fresh linens on the line. Which reminds me of my vintage floral and fruit table cloth collection. You know how collections start, never as collections, but as one fantastic find followed by another and then the obsession to accumulate. Well, that’s how it is with me anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever spent over $12 for any one of my dozens of vintage table cloths. But being thrifty, also means being patient, it takes time to get a good stack of vintage tablecloths.

In the past, we have had summer barn parties, my favorite place to bring them out! And had I been a blogger back then, I certainly would have taken better photos! I started with cheap dollar white plastic table cloths to cover each long table and then place one vintage table cloth at an angle in the center.
For centerpieces, one year I simply covered flower pots in burlap.The next year I used old coffee cans to hold the flowers. And of course, every barn party needs wood shavings all over the ground.The table cloths were on the buffet and I even used them hanging as a backdrops.Being thrifty and obsessed with vintage tablecloths, I’ve had to settle for mostly stained pieces marked at a very low price at flea markets and online. Early in collecting I learned a wonderful way to get those stains out and it has worked on nearly every single one with awesome results, (though not the greenest or least toxic of solutions.)

It’s Tilex. For mold and mildew. You know, the ultimate spray bleach or whatever it is.
Now, before you go ruining grandma’s sweet old luncheon linens, please take caution to spot test in a non-conspicuous place. However, if you found yourself a vintage tablecloth for only $3 because of the stains, it’s worth the gamble. I spray the entire piece in the sink or on the line. Be very careful of overspray in the wind as it will bleach what you’re wearing and could get in your eyes, so use great caution. When I soak mine with spray in the sink I use rubber gloves and keep windows open to ventilate. I think you get the idea. Anyway, I’ve never lost a bit of color in the graphics on any piece I’ve sprayed, and I’ve sprayed most every one. Once the tablecloth stains have gone, simply throw into the washing machine and run through a regular soapy cycle with only other whites, no colors. Dry on the line or in the dryer. If by chance you are still left with a slight stain here and there or even small holes from use, believe me, they are so easy to cover with centerpieces and utensils.
Display vintage tablecloths stacked with graphics strategically placed on the fold side in an open cupboard. I’ll be bringing mine out from the under-the-bed storage for a stacked summer display soon.

TIP: When looking online for inexpensive and stained vintage tablecloths, search using the word cutter as many sellers consider stained tablecloths unusable and only good for crafts.

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