Book Review - The Kitchen Linens Book

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I am sharing for the first time at Vintage Thingies Thursday. I found this a couple weeks ago and promised I'd be back to post.

The Kitchen Linens Book
Using, Sharing, and Cherishing the Fabric of Our Daily Lives by EllynAnne Geisel

I posted earlier this week on my love of vintage linens……especially kitchen linens. I have found a kindred spirit in EllynAnne Geisel. I reviewed The Apron Book a few months back and loved it…as much as I loved the first book, if I could only own one (thankfully, I own both, lol), I’d choose The Kitchen Linens Book.

I have many memories tied to the kitchen. My Mom and my grandmothers were all great cooks. Early in my childhood, I was drawn into their magical world. I couldn’t wait to take part in the magic they created. I would tie on an apron, drag a chair over to the counter and beg to peel carrots or measure ingredients. Thank the Lord for a patient mother who eagerly accepted my help (I tried hard to be that same Mom for my kids). Attached to those great memories are the fun and whimsical kitchen linens and dishes (we’ll talk dishes another day) from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. As I’ve said previously, I just loved that the dishtowels had a task assigned to each day of the week. Of course, as a child, I didn’t know that stemmed from an old English Rhyme…I just knew I loved the orderliness of it all.

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Bake on Wednesday,
Brew on Thursday,
Churn on Friday,
Mend on Saturday,
Go to meeting on Sunday.

Now that I’ve created a home for my family, I collect vintage linens for enjoyment but also embroider *vintage look* towels for use. Years back I ran into a treasure trove….a box full of vintage patterns at a farm sale. Old Aunt Martha and Vogart patterns……Scotty Dogs, Roosters, Baskets of Fruits, Dutch Girls, Animated Kitchen Gadgets, etc., I’ve made them all…at least once. Some have been given as gifts, others sold and most have been the towels of my own kitchen. One of the things about The Kitchen Linens Book that got my attention is that it includes a Butterick Transfer Pattern for “Vintage Kitchen Towel Motif”. I was very excited about that pattern. I carefully cut out the motif I wanted to embroider onto a towel to feature with this review and was very disappointed that it did not transfer well. Below is the towel, but it is obvious to me that the pattern really wasn’t intended for use....much less repeat use like those old ones were.

Disappointing. That said, I still love the book and will enjoy thumbing through it many times and reading of others with sweet memories like my own. If you are not so into vintage kitchen linens, look for this book at your public library and just see if it evokes memories for you. Maybe you’ll be a convert!

I thought I’d share some great information from the book (page 11).

How to Apply a Transfer

1. Set dry iron to “Linen” setting (350 degrees). Allow iron to reach proper temperature or transfer may not work.

2. Place protective cloth over ironing board to keep excess ink from staining ironing board cover.

3. Place fabric on iron board, right side up, over the protective cloth.

4. Place transfer face down on fabric.

5. Place a clean sheet of paper directly over the transfer so that the entire inked surface is covered.

6. Press firmly and evenly in slow, circular motion for 30 seconds, no longer. BE CAREFUL TO HOLD TRANSFER IN ONE PLACE TO AVOID SMEARING.

7. Allow to cool for at least one minute before removing paper.
Are you looking for hot-iron transfers of vintage designs, check out some of these online sources: (my favorite)


  1. I love the old vintage linens. I've been looking for the ladies in the big dresses with the days of the week. They just look so "southern".


  1. Patti said...:

    I have a few vintage linen tablecloths...I almost hate to use them because I don't want to stain them! i also remember that weekly saying!

  1. Coloradolady said...:

    Welcome to Vintage Thingies Thursday...and may I say, what a great post. I love vintage linens and wish I had the time to make some of the vintage patterns into towels to use everyday...I so admire someone who stitches! Have a great VTT!

  1. CC said...:

    I love that book..if I can't find it at the library,then I will look more. I love,love vintage linens..and have quite a few patterns. Truth to tell, I love the patterns as much as I love the linens. At the moment,I'm still embroidering dish towels, and pillowcases..I love handwork,and I'm so wanting to see some of your older patterns,you lucky,lucky girl.Happy VTT,have a great weekend.

  1. Jeanette said...:

    What a great post, I have some lovely vintage linens. My husband bought me some in Ireland several years ago also. Very pretty.

  1. farmlady said...:

    I remember so many of these patterns on vintage linens when I was growing up. I think everyone USED them then. I remember them hanging from the clothesline drying in the sun and wind..., it's a good memory.

  1. LV said...:

    Loved your post today and brought back a lot memories. We had those week day linens years ago. You can still find a few in antique stores if you are willing to pay the price. If we only knew back than what we know now.

  1. Diann said...:

    Love that book. i need to find a copy for myself!

  1. Oh thank you for the links! I can't wait to look them up.

    Blessings from Ohio...Kim W<><

  1. Postcardy said...:

    I love those old transfer designs now, but I thought they were too corny back when they were popular!

  1. Farmgirl Cyn said...:

    I love vintage linens, and will be looking for this at my local library. I'd rather use my old linens than anything new and fuzzy out of the box.

  1. Keetha Broyles said...:

    When I was a girl, ALL linens were embroidered in this manner. I even remember some of those EXACT patterns. Fun fun!

  1. Vonlipi said...:

    That is a nice book! I love old linens but have not embroided kitchen towels, only pillow cases.

    Thanks for sharing

  1. Oh this post just warms my heart. How very sweet and I think I need to get my hands on this book. Thanks!

  1. what a fun post! i love vintage linens too and those darling transfers are adorable! btw i've got the apron book and i can't wait to get a copy of the kitchen linen book :)

  1. Bea said...:

    I love that book, Gail. I had two of those books; one of which was sent to me by EllynAnne herself as a prize from her blog. Your Vogart pattern of the Dutch girls is so cute. Welcome to VTT.

  1. I love the vintage embroidered towels I find on my antiquing jaunts. Some I am sure that I grew up with, so it must be the same pattern. Your book sounds delightful and I am sure you will have many enjoyable hours reading through it!


  1. ~~Carol~~ said...:

    I also love vintage linens! Towels, tablecloths, aprons, you name it and I'm probably collecting it! Now I want to read that book that you recommend to highly. I bet the pictures are just wonderful!
    Happy VTT!

  1. Teresa said...:

    that brings back such great memories of my mom and her embroidering, trying to teach me. i have some of the day of the week towels she had done a long time ago. I just love the graphics.

  1. Sandy said...:

    I just loved this post!!!! This is my first visit to your blog and I am so glad I found you thru VTT. I bought both of her books also, but I don't know that mine came with the transfers....I just LOVE those coffee cups! I can't embroider but I am going to try the Aunt Marth's fabric paint pens and "embroider" with those! Thanks again!

  1. What a wonderful book! My grandmother embroidered and appliqued tea towels, so looking at the pics in this is like walking down memory lane. :-)

  1. Troy said...:

    It's been years, but I vaguely remember my mom making her own transfers from a lot of different things. Her favorites were coloring book pictures for when she made baby quilts.

    She taped the paper to a window, face out, so the light would shine through it and traced the outlines onto the back of the sheet with a red transfer pencil, then she ironed it on and embroidered it.

    I have no idea if it was a special pencil or not, but if you had one, it may allow you to reuse your patterns over and over.

  1. Maggie B said...:

    I love vintage French linen sheets and tea towels and look for them in Brocantes & Vide Greniers during the summer months.

  1. Ulla said...:

    I loved your post and the one on kithen linens, very much information.

  1. SuKnitWitty said...:

    Everyone loves vintage linens...including me and I share in your memories of the kitchen with my Mom. Thanks to our Moms for their patience and as a result we have a special love for all things 'Kitchen'. Great post!

  1. Miri said...:

    I love old linens and especially vintage transfer patterns...I usually trace my vintage patterns because I don't want to cut the sheets up but I have iron-transfered several and they always worked easily...more easily than new transfer patterns-I wonder if the ink was changed.

    Thanks for a peek at this book-I remember when it first came out and there was a buzz around blogville.

  1. Linda said...:

    I soooo LOVE this book...thanks soooo much for sharing it! I'm a vintage linen lady:) Thanks for coming by and I hope you come again.


  1. Tara Beaulieu said...:

    Great post- I love the little teacup people! I don't own a single vintage linen simply because I have 3 young boys and boys+anything delicate= disaster waiting to happen, lol! But maybe I should start a "just for me" collection? ;)

  1. Sharon said...:

    I LOVE this book! NOw I need to pull it out again and re-read it :) Thanks for sharing Gail :)

    Have a blessed day in the Lord!

  1. I LOVE vintage linens too! What a wonderful post! I have inherited lots of beautiful linens that I am trying to use with different things. I do love the ones from the 40s and 50s especially.

  1. Maureen said...:

    Soooo sweet! Love the teacup towel.

  1. H!! It's me again. I just posted some of my Grandma's embroidered tea towels on my blog. (and other embroidered items too.) You'll have to come by and take a look. I also linked to your blog post about cleaning vintage linens... I hope that's ok.

  1. Mrs. G said...:

    What a cute book. I will be back when I have more time to look around. Looks like your blog is one that I would enjoy visiting. So nice to meet you.

  1. Jane said...:

    My mother still embroiders and the ladies at her church make tea towel sets each year to sell at their church bazaar. They are a HUGE seller. I have one set that my mother made for me years ago.
    Just today I found 5 vintage transfer patterns for embroidery. Of course I bought them all (all 5 for $1.00).
    Thanks for the review of the book. That is something I'm going to check out.

  1. Kristine said...:

    The tea towel with the dancing tea cups is just darling!!! I love tea towels...they are such a welcoming sight in my kitchen.

  1. Roslyn said...:

    The tea cups with legs are too darned cute-I wonder if I can find that design for my embroidery machine........
    My favorite muffins are the really dark whole grain with dates or those with almonds & poppy seed! Now I might have to make some..........

  1. My dear friend, What a wonderful and informative post! You introduced this book and gave so many interesting points that I was glued to your post page! Your tutorial about ironing on a transfer was perfect. I have never done that, and I love to do handwork. Another thing in common. And your picutes are great. Please do more posts like this... I loved it!
    Blessings and hugs,

  1. Amy said...:

    That book looks very fun. I'm going to search for it. I love vintage linens too. I love them with prints on them and embroidered. My grandmother use to make lovely ones and sell them. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. This was a fantastic find! I have been collecting kitchen linens for quite some time. Maybe I can find a copy of this fun book on ebay.

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