Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Little History of the Tea Towel and British Tea Time...

I have always wondered about the origin of the tea towel. I found out that England was the very first country to invent the tea towel term. In the 19th century Tea Time became a very popular almost universal daily event in Britain. Tea Time developed into a very serious affair accompanied by the families finest china, crystal and linens. The British lady of the house took great pride in her tea service and display.

The Tea Towel originally was linen a unique drying material that the lady of the home would utilise to dry out expensive items of China.  The linen was so soft it didn't scratch or mar the china and crystal. Servants were then employed to hem and embroider beautiful designs on the tea towels that in many cases became family heirlooms. The tea towels themselves were treated almost as delicately as the fine China. They were always washed delicately with a very mild soap, laid out to dry and carefully ironed. They were almost always included in the table display for Tea Time.
Ulster Weavers in Ireland was among the first to create these delicate linen towels for the British homemaker and have been in business since 1870 and remain so today. Now they create beautiful cotton tea towels. They have a beautiful website check it out.

I do have a few linen tea towels packed away. I actually prefer the flour sack tea towel. I love the bright white 100% cotton fabric that absorbs the fragrance of the fabric softener or steam scent from the iron. They wash up so well and are easy to create designs on. I have so many now with different designs for holidays, etc. When washed clean and ironed they just look so pristine which makes me happy. I especially love to embroider bright and happy designs for my kitchen and have given away many sets as gifts.
I did these cherry design tea towels up over the weekend. I was inspired by Sue at It's A Very Cherry World. She always has a party Rednesday beginning every Tuesday. I have followed her for a long time and love her vintage motif and her use of reds. She has inspired me to incorporate more red in my kitchen. I have some Scarlet Fiestaware and Friendship Pyrex now I have these fresh cherry tea towels.

PhotobucketPartying with:

A Stroll Through Life

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  1. Very interesting information. I wish I could embroider!! Your towels are lovely.

  2. Your tea towels are so pretty! Thanks for the info too!

  3. Your towels are so sweet! I've just started collecting tea towels; just can't get enough of them, and love to use them in table settings!

  4. Great info on tea towels. I love to get my tea towels from the local Big R Ranch Supply store. They sell the flour sack towels and I embroider on them, too! I remember having these kind of towels growing up, and my Aunts , too.
    Yours are very pretty!

  5. I loved reading about the history of tea towels. It certainly is logical they would have started in England. You did a lovely joy with the cherries. Hope you have a nice week. genie

  6. This is such a fun post! My grandparents stopped whatever they were doing at 4pm everyday for tea.
    Your embroidery looks wonderful, love it!

  7. LOVE the tea towels! Thanks sharing with us. :-)


  8. I always love to learn a little about the things that I have come to adore!


  9. Nice to see the tea towels in a Attracted embroidery. Welldone Susie.....

  10. very nice design of your tea towels. i really appreciate your collection of britsh towels. thanks for sharing this informative post.