• The seam on the handwoven tablecloth. Scandinavian Knit
  • Wind a vintage tea towel

How can I tell if textiles is handmade? Vintage treasure hunt part. 5.

posted in: Linen, Storytelling, Sweden, Vintage Knitting | 2

“How can you tell if a piece of textile is handmade?”

That is something I often hear. Well, I have seen a lot of textiles and I know a lot of textile technique, so by now I know what to look for:

The devil in the details

1. The selvedge or the selvage –  the self-finished edge of fabric.

Handmade linen tea towel. Detail from the selvage. Handwoven:

The selvage is generally the same thickness as the rest of the cloth.

Often a bit uneven.

On this tea towel you see the pattern continues in the selvage, but it’s uneven and you can even see a small loose tread.

Industrial woven:

The selvage is often made thicker with a binding thread and the selvage will be even.



2. Irregularities in the fabric

Selvage on a handwoven vintage tea towel

In this fabric you see the selvage and some vertical lines in the fabrics. It shows that the tensioning of the loom has been uneven.

You wouldn’t see this in an industrial fabric.









3. The finish

The seam on the handwoven tablecloth. Scandinavian KnitThe seam: How is it sewn?

Here on the linen table cloth it’s by hand. Small and even stitches. Clearly sewn by hand.







Strap on the vintage tea towelIs there a strap?Is it sewn by hand?

Here it’s clearly hand sewn.








4. Fibers

Sometimes the fibre helps me classify age and if the textile is handmade. Old and well preserved cotton and linen is often in a high quality – it’s just in my eyes by know.

How to know linen. By Scandinavian Knit

To check if it’s linen or cotton you can test it with the back of you hand. 

If it’s linen it will feel cold.

If it’s cotton it will feel cold at first but shortly it will feels warmer. 






Fine handmade linen tea towel for glass.


The nerdy detail:

Do you know you the towels for cleaning glass and crystal?

They are fine woven towels, made from smooth, hard-twisted cotton or linen yarns which leaves little or no lint.


Vintage treasure hunt part 4

2 Responses

  1. Susan

    Thanks for the comment on linen being cool to the touch. Cotton will suffice for very hot weather but nothing replaces 100% linen for breathability in hot climates.

  2. Sunny

    This is a very informative & useful post. Thanks for educating us.

Leave a Reply