Every book has a back story. Wait until you read The Gown by Jennifer Robson

What? Me do a book review? When the book is full of vintage embroidery, fashion and the royals, you betcha.

It has been a long time since I have actually read a book. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot, way more than most people I know. So, I have been waiting for this book to become available for a few months from the library. I am hooked. The book caught my attention because it was about the making of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. Rich in detail, historically accurate but, more importantly, about the women who made the gown and even the actual process. Frankly, a novel based on actual events.

Always interested in embroidery, I was amazed at the materials, design and hundreds of woman hours that went into the making of this gown- all done in 4 months time. All the embellishing done by hand. In 1947 when this gown was made and the wedding took place, there was still rationing while England struggled to recover from WWII. The royals, like everybody else, had to use ration coupons to purchase all the finery. The government did allow Princess Elizabeth additional 200 coupons because they thought the event would boost morale and they were right!

Norman Hartnell, designer to the rich and royal, designed the gown. Stitched in his workrooms using politically correct materials like satin made with Chinese (not Japanese, they were the enemy) silkworms.

Clearly lots of research was done to present a lovely story of personal relationships and a rare look inside the workrooms and processes of a major designer. I am not finished with the book yet but I am quite sure I will be sad to see it come to an end.

If you love embroidery, you’ll love The Gown. Of course, this sent me off in a few related searches. Here’s a beautiful website for the royals: Www.royals.uk

More on Norman Hartnell: Remembering Norman Hartnell, The Fashion Designer Behind Princess Beatrice’s Vintage Wedding Dress. http://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/norman-hartnell

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created to tell a story of women whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

‘Robson succeeds in creating a riveting drama of female friendship, of lives fully lived despite unbearable loss, and of the steadfast effort required to bring forth beauty after surviving war’ Independent

‘A great tale of female friendship’ The People’s Friend

Stay vintage my friends,


Welcome to My New Home

OK, not exactly but, I do live nearby! Linen Cottage is moving to WordPress. I recently announced that I am semi-retiring. This means that I will no longer focus on vintage and antique linens, although there will still be a few here and there.

Shifting gears now, I am particularly interested in restoration and repair of old household linens and christening gowns. I have always loved textiles and I do love to make them pretty again. I have worked very hard to offer the best possible quality vintage and antique linens- even the humble hand embroidered dresser scarf. Thankfully, my customers have told me over and over that my linens are beautiful. Not a conservator but, I’m learning. Several years ago I created a line of Archival Quality Storage sleeves for linens and quilts so, naturally I will continue to offer them as part of my business.

In addition, last year, I purchased a professional embroidery machine. Although I have been embroidering on my home machines for over 20 years, I will concentrate on offering custom embroidered items also. No production pieces like hats or t-shirts rather- beautiful monograms, large fancy embroideries, wedding dress labels and quilt labels, all custom made.

And of course, occasional blogs on gentle home arts. So as you can see, on to the next chapter for Linen Cottage. Looking forward to slowing down a bit and zeroing in on the particular areas that give me much pleasure.

I’ll see you soon,


Original Design Custom Embroidered Cocktail Napkins