Tea towels: hemmed and ready for use

By Stefanie White

20 unused tea towels from Cape Adare are currently undergoing conservation treatment. They are all of white linen material with a red border along the top and bottom with words reading ‘TEA CLOTH’ and a delicate leaf damask in white. Interestingly, the towel is has been stamped with bright blue ink reading ‘Hemmed and ready for use’. Traditionally, a tea towel was a luxury item that often the lady of the house would embroider, use to polish precious crockery or to cover food baskets with. These towels would came unhemmed and were typically hemstitched by servants or house maids. However, with the industrial revolution, tea towels became to be mass produced and even ‘hemmed and ready for use’. Among the collection of Tea towels found at Cape Adare, we see a nice example of this 19th/20th century new style of tea towel.

I wonder why they were not used…

Before treatment of tea towel

After treatment of tea towel

Hemmed, ready for use


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