Have you ever looked at a beautiful embroidered French Linen bedsheet and wondered what the initials stand for?
The initials were traditionally the first name intial of both the groom and the bride. What would your sheet have held?
For centuries women have prepared linen for a planned marriage, this was known as a dowry or 'trousseau'.
There is an art to Dowry linen, they did not walk down the road to Bed Bath & Beyond, or Briscoes.
A lot of preparation went into the linen that would accompany the new bride to her husbands home.
The wedding linen had to be scoured, bleached and embroidered. This process was both labour and time intensive and remained unchanged until the end of the 18th century when chemicals such as chlorine became available.
The linen had to be scoured in a hot alkaline bath to remove natural oils, waxes, and dirt .Then it was ready for bleaching.
Bleaching could take months, the Linen was taken to the 'bleaching field' where it was laid out in the sun for 3 to 6 months. Each village had land set aside for bleaching.
After lying in the bleaching fields the fabric was then stretched back into shape beore being ready for embroidery.
Finally the sheets and other items in the dowry were monogrammed with the hand stitched initials of the bride & groom.
Enough linen to last a lifetime was piled high in huge armoires presented by the bride’s family. The amount of linen trousseau a woman brought to her marriage was a symbol of family wealth.