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Table Linens


Heather
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I am a sucker for pretty table linens, especially vintage designs. We came home from Provence this summer with a suitcase stuffed with placemats, napkins, tablecloths, jacquard dish towels, and a bread basket. More recently I scored a stack of linen cocktail napkins, 10 linen placemats and a matching tablerunner, and a dozen oversized white linen napkins at a downtown Takoma secondhand shop.

Where do you shop for yours? Anyone have any good second hand sources or recent finds to report?

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I am a sucker for pretty table linens, especially vintage designs. We came home from Provence this summer with a suitcase stuffed with placemats, napkins, tablecloths, jacquard dish towels, and a bread basket. More recently I scored a stack of linen cocktail napkins, 10 linen placemats and a matching tablerunner, and a dozen oversized white linen napkins at a downtown Takoma secondhand shop.

Where do you shop for yours? Anyone have any good second hand sources or recent finds to report?

For new stuff, I've always thought Sur la Table in Pentagon Row has a very good selection, especially if you lean toward the Mediterranean/Proven├žal aesthetic.
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I am a sucker for pretty table linens, especially vintage designs. We came home from Provence this summer with a suitcase stuffed with placemats, napkins, tablecloths, jacquard dish towels, and a bread basket. More recently I scored a stack of linen cocktail napkins, 10 linen placemats and a matching tablerunner, and a dozen oversized white linen napkins at a downtown Takoma secondhand shop.

Where do you shop for yours? Anyone have any good second hand sources or recent finds to report?

I also have a pretty severe table linen habit (which ended up being a gateway to a really severe servingware habit).

Williams-Sonoma outlets, both electronic and bricks-and-mortar (I'm headed out to the store in Leesburg next week :D ), have good deals on linens (20-50% off). Crate & Barrel outlets also have decent prices on napkins, placemats, runners, but they only have the occasional (usually seasonal) tablecloth. It seems like the better deals are at the outlet stores for W-S and at the electronic outlet for C&B. Go figure.

One of the sure signs of addiction: Always carrying a swatch of one's dining room chair upholstery fabric around in one's purse. :P

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Everything I've purchased from Crate & Barrel in the last few years has seemed expensive for the quality. I wash and air-dry my informal napkins and placemats and theirs fade and fall apart. Williams-Sonoma sells great, heavyweight formal tablecloths and napkins, and those get professionally cleaned and pressed.

I'll check out Sur La Table, once I look up a location other than Tysons Corner. :D

And MK, that's definitely a problem :P but thanks for the Leesburg outlet tip.

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At Eastern Market on Sunday, there's a woman who sells napkins, towels, and tablecloths that are available at April Cornell for alot less.

And Textile Arts online lets you create custom table cloths and has some interesting mid century modern fabric.

http://store.txtlart.com/cuta.html

We by both at April Cornell -- did they all go out of business? G'town and Pentagon City both closed -- and at Eastern Market bu tnever noticed style overlap. Maybe we just go into it looking for different things: starchy classic linens at Eastern Market and frou-frou at AC. Like them both.

Drop by Union butcher and the cheese guy, lunch at Montmartre and then a linens binge -- there's a fine day on the Hill for you.

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Two years or so ago Frette had an outlet we went to in Italy. At the time, generally, linens/towels were about 30-40% of the American price at it. With the Euro @1.34 to the dollar I'm not so sure that even "outlet" makes a difference any more. Frette bath sheets in Italy are about Euro 55 which, at the rate of exchange is $75 or so. That's a lot of money for a large towel! At the outlet then the discounted price was Euro 35 and the dollar was on par with the Euro. All of our table linens are Frette but we bought them in Italy when the exchange rate was .85 to the Euro. My point in mentioning exchange, Frette, etc. is that ALL European made linens are expensive and ones being shipped here are going to be even more expensive. I'm obsessed with shopping at REAL outlets in Europe (i.e. LLadro in Valencia, Loro Piana south of Florence, Brioni in Pescara (when the Euro was .85 this was affordable-this made it 25% of the American price; I once went there in January and totalled 85% off the American price on some clothing) etc.) and have gone to many of them over the years since I travel there frequently on business. About three or four years ago I put a very lengthy post on Chowhound about my experiences in outlet shopping in Europe. Now, I find myself doing very little shopping.

Edited by Joe H
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Everything I've purchased from Crate & Barrel in the last few years has seemed expensive for the quality. I wash and air-dry my informal napkins and placemats and theirs fade and fall apart.
I've only bought their heavy brocade-like stuff (I just looked at the C&B website and they don't seem to be offering any of it this year, but you can see it my thanksgiving pic here). It has held up quite well, even with normal washing and drying (and if you pull it out of the dryer while still just a tiny bit damp, it does not need ironing :P ). I have also found napkins in a similar material at Sur la Table (I hate ironing!), but no matching tablecloths of a decent size.
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I have some of W-S and C&B's, too. Sometimes TJMaxx or Marshall's carries table linens from Calvin Klein so I have bought them whenever I found them in those stores. However, my favorite is table linen from Jim Thompson among other things.

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I'll check out Sur La Table, once I look up a location other than Tysons Corner. :P
There's a Sur la Table on Wisconsin Ave. just north of Harrison St. (a couple of blocks south of Mazza Gallerie on the other side of the street). There's no parking, unfortunately, but if you go on a Sunday you can park in the weird little garage/parking lot of Paul's Liquor next door. Or you can park at Rodman's down the street and do some shopping there, and then walk up to Sur la Table. Which reminds me of the very nasty sign in the parking garage of the Glover Park Whole Foods, which says basically IF YOU LEAVE THE PREMISES BEFORE OR AFTER SHOPPING AT WHOLE FOODS YOUR CAR WILL BE TOWED. BITCH.
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