Wednesday 16 March 2022

The Joy of Vintage Tea Towels

I've always loved vintage textiles, and sell lots of different kinds in my shop, but in the past six months or so I have become completely obsessed with vintage tea towels!


There are a few brands out there still producing interesting and colourful tea towel designs but in my opinion nothing quite compares to the charms of the vintage designs, particularly the illustrations, colours, and patterns from the 1960s and 1970s. 

These wonderful retro designs would all be fabulous gifts, cheer up even the largest pile of drying up, and make amazing wall hangings. They'd also look great framed, like posters - and when you think of them like that you swiftly realise what a sadly neglected area of design this is. 

There are so many books and exhibitions about posters, and I'm sure most museums around the world have poster collections... but how many people are out there celebrating the art of the tea towel? Or could name a tea towel designer? Not nearly enough!

Tea towels are normally the sort of everyday textiles which usually get used and used and used until they fall apart and get thrown away (or added to the rag pile for cleaning with!). But luckily for us, they also used to be very collectable. 

People bought them as souvenirs from places they visited but they also collected other lovely designs they came across and kept them, unused, just as delightful things to get out and look at and enjoy from time to time. 

Which means that - almost like being able to time travel - you can now buy brand new genuine vintage tea towels! How cool is that?

My personal favourites usually involve flowers, or British wildlife...


 ... and I particularly love the older designs by Ulster (now known as "Ulster Weavers").

But honestly, there are just so many gorgeous designs to ooh over that my favourites change all the time.  

There are souvenir tea towels, of course (so many of those, from so many different places)...


... Christmas tea towels...

... charity tea towels...

...calendar tea towels (such a nice birthday gift for anyone born in those years!)...

... gloriously quirky old advertising tea towels, and lots more!

You'll find my currently available selection of vintage tea towels (along with lots of other vintage finds) in my shop, and I'll soon be opening a standalone shop just for the tea towels because they are kind of taking over my life.

I've also started a new Instagram account to showcase the joys of vintage tea towel design, where I'll be sharing one tea towel a day. Sometimes these will be ones I've already sold, sometimes they'll be new stock, but either way there will be a lot of gorgeous designs to ooh over.

For even more vintage tea towel goodness, I highly recommend The Virtual Tea Towel museum which is a delightful rabbit hole to fall down during your teabreaks!


bairozan said...

I loved exploring tea towels when I was a kid, they were so popular then! This is a fascinating selection!