Any creative ideas for displaying heirloom linens?

Paxton, IL

I'm hoping to get some creative ideas and some practical know-hows about displaying some linens with needlework on them. I have a few from my great grandmother that would have been done around the early 1900s and one done by my DH's great grandmother (not sure when this would have been done). I've read some info about keeping them out of direct light, not using colored paper, making sure to use acid free materials... any other tips. I would also like to display them creatively rather than the run of the mill shadow box. I had originally thought I would just hang them on a rustic ladder but then the info I read seems to say I shouldn't leave them out in the open. I sure would appreciate your ideas.

Gladwin, MI(Zone 5a)

I have the same problem. I have them packed away in little linen boxes that my GM put them in. Luckily she marked everything with dates and who it belonged to. There are several nice pieces of what she labeled "fancy work"
She even saved the first button hole she ever made. 1902. I tease DD that someday she will be the keeper of the button hole. LOL
Hey, she saved it for over a 100 years, we have to keep it.
I have just kept them in the tissue in a box, because they seemed to keep well that way.
The only way to display would be in a china cabinet or under a glass picture frame.
But like yourself, I worry changes in light and moisture could cause damage. Seems a shame to keep them packed away.
There must be someone out there with an idea.

Rock Hill, SC(Zone 7b)

You should frame the buttonhole with a label with your grandmothers story...maybe you could add your own buttonhole and even have your daughter make one too... three generations of buttonholes. lol It would be a nice addition to a sewing room. There is a huge variety of archival quality framing and matting supplies.

Gladwin, MI(Zone 5a)

Somehow my daughter never got the sewing and crafting gene passed down.
The button hole would look nice matted in a nice frame. I may do that.

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

I'm showing this photo to (maybe) create some ideas.
You could use a photo of your grandmother, perhaps in a sepia tone, as part of the background, with other very subtle scrapbooking papers, then mount the fine work on the top. Use a some hat pins or antique buttons for interest. An old brooch maybe? Pages from an old sewing/crochet book? I would use acid/ligon free papers for preservation. Be sure your fine work is clean before mounting, Soiled spots have a tendency to get darker.
If you don't want to hang it on a wall, maybe you could attach it to legs for a side table or stand it on a shelf upright.

Thumbnail by grannymarsh
Orangeville, ON(Zone 4b)

If I were so lucky to have needlework from my ancestors, I would definitely have them framed in heartbeat. I believe the glass they use now offers UV protection. I agree, that leaving antique needlework out in the open would not be a good idea. Talk to a good framer about your options; you may be surprised at how lovely they can make it look for you.


Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)


My sister has a distressed white dining table. She laid the doilies out, overlapping and arranging, and then covered it with glass. It is really pretty.


Gladwin, MI(Zone 5a)

Sounds easy, and you could change it every so often too. Good idea.

Paxton, IL

I like both of those ideas. I'll have to see what else I can find to put in a frame. The additional items sure would make it more interesting. I like the glass table idea too. I do have a coffee table that it would probably not be too much to get a piece of glass for. I need to cover up some bad spots on the table anyway from where my kids thought they needed to add character to it - ha, ha.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

I saw, on Carol Duvall, years ago, where someone took rare/antique tatting pieces, built a huge glassed in shadow box, placed them in with straight pins and hung it in an entry area. I suppose you could hang it anywhere that the sun and heat would not get to it.

Oracle , AZ(Zone 8b)

Great ideas here! I've been wanting to bring some of my mom's doilies out and framing them sounds like such a good idea. I have her jewelry and odds and ends of things that would work with a doily. I tat and I have some really pretty things that would really look great! Thanks! As if I needing another project!

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

I had some framed, put handles on the frame, and it's a sort-of serving tray.
A few smaller pieces are framed and I hang those in the DR.

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Really clever idea Jean!!! I have a few things I'd like to frame like that.....

Longboat Key, FL(Zone 9b)

Hello, OK this is not to display/preserve I use doilies under the plastic on my desk top,
Making pillows with colored or off white satin underneat - making small pillows and neck rolls. I have also used a small crochet tablecloth on top of burlap for a small rug in a guest toom with satin ribbon bows. It was OK a bit slippery on wood floor.
I need a foot stool to get into bed. This is it. Not our (mothers or mine) own crochet. mostly acquired.
To preserve a nice shadow box is best way - my five cents. Having many the same size - I wonder if perhaps a photo album found in antique stores would work. Sort of as a cocktail table book.??!!or making something like it with the proper paper...

Thumbnail by helenethequeen
Oracle , AZ(Zone 8b)

Good ideas Helene.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

I framed several of the doilies that my late MIL crocheted. Pics are at

Knoxville, TN(Zone 7a)

There is definitely museum quality glass that you can use in your frames. It's expensive, but worth it. I have several documents from my grandparents framed and on the wall and they have not faded a bit. A good framer is worth every penny as well.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

My framed antique doilies have the archival mat board & glass. SInce they are small pieces, the Framer was able to use glass "scraps" from larger projects so that saved me a bit.
I'll have to remember to take pics next time I'm in FL,

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