The Textile Trunk

Photo by The Textile Trunk

I often get asked where I find the grain sacks and fabrics that I use for my products.  But in thinking about that, I started to  wonder where the shop owners that I buy fabric from get their fabric?? Not that I want to take over their business, but they are one step closer to that farm family that once used the sacks to haul their grain around or hand wove the hemp sheets to use on their beds. Any antique lover understands there is something magical in finding out more about the original owner of a piece or at least getting a little closer to solving the mystery. In finding an answer to this question, I reached out to Wendy, the owner The Textile Trunk, which is in fact a shop that I frequently purchase from.  I have been a loyal follower this business.  Her linens are STUNNING, she has the most vast selection of special vintage European pieces, and she displays and photographs them in her New England farmhouse to create a bit of an experience when browsing her online shop.

 I asked Wendy about how she purchases her linens and she explained that she has a massive collection (over 4000 listings on her Etsy shop right now) that involves a lot of different processes to purchase each unique piece.   She has developed relationships with people all over Europe that help her search out the “most wonderful textiles around” (this statement is accurate, they are wonderful). Many of these pieces come from private collections that have been in storage for many years.  She also has traveled a great deal to France following a schedule of hunting for fabrics and eating (my favorite things, what does one need to do to tag along for that??).   She went on to tell me that she couldn’t tell me anymore because that would expose her “secret sauce.”  I more than respect her holding this information close to her vest.  I believe the job that she has is a combination of being an artist and a hard manual labor job.  It is a talent to pick out fabrics that are worthy of resell, especially when the investment is great.  Then the behind the scenes of cleaning, organizing, photographing, and packaging linen is A LOT of hard work.  She deserves all the right to reserve her secrets, she has worked hard to develop them.   Although without more information, it leads me to relying on my imagination for the origin of my textiles, but that is okay.  I can imagine Wendy traveling the French countryside, making connections, and searching through estates finding special pieces.  I am grateful to be the receipant of this hard and magical work.

Photo by The Textile Trunk

I wanted to know more about her business so I asked her about how it started.  She refrenced a write up that the author, Nora Murphy did for her book, “Nora Murphy’s Country House Style” about her business.  The story goes that she once lived in London, where she would often visit France.  She had always had a passion for history, art, and design, so when she came across a piece of fabric from the 1700s on a trip to France “the heavens opened.”  There was no turning back at that point, she began her collection, she found in order to continue to purchasing for her collection, she would have to sell some of her fabric.  So the business The Textile Trunk was born.  She took advantage of her time in Europe visiting textile museums to increase her knowledge of antique fabrics.  This knowledge is apparent in her collection.

Photo by The Textile Trunk

I asked Wendy what a typical day looks like for her and her business.  She explained that every day is different, this is part of what she loves about her job. And she really does love her job, she said she generally works 7 days a week, but it doesn’t feel like work because she enjoys it so much.  Even though the days vary somewhat she said if usually begins with lots of coffee, then she ships orders she has received, and responds to customers.  She enjoys this part as a connection to her clients, some of which have been purchasing from her for two decades.  Then she told me she usually moves onto photographing a group of fabric.  This is the part where she lit up in her email to me.  Her passion for this niche that she has created was so evident in her description.  I will let her words do the talking: “Each textile has it’s very own story, and there is so much that can be gleaned about these pieces just from looking closely at the details. Whether it’s the printing techniques, dyes, ground cloth, fading pattern, condition etc, everything comes together to speak for these textiles and tell me a bit about their history.  I do all my own photographing, which is important to me as it’s a bit like photographing my children! I want each textile’s character and personality to shine through, so I focus on making them alive again and telling their story!!!”

Photo by The Textile Trunk

Wendy goes on to explain that her house is her work place.  It is typical to have antique linen draped in every possible place.  Her kids have gotten used to moving pieces like an 18th Century curtain out of the way to walk up the stairs.

Photo by The Textile Trunk

In browsing the 4000 listings that The Textile Trunk has on Etsy, I found some favorites.  Granted each one is special, but if I had to pick a couple here you go:

I love the idea of these fabric packs that she has put together.  Perfect for a very unique small project. 

I actually purchased some of this while I was doing my thorough research on her shop 🙂 .  I have more of my Textile Trunk favorites linked here on my favorites’ Etsy page.

 I met Wendy in person at Brimfield Antique Show in Massacusetts.  Her booth was piled high with heavenly textiles.  She was warm and welcoming and I was happy that I introduced myself.  I walked away having purchased a couple of grey striped French grain sacks with some sweet patches.  Its rare to come across grey stripes on grain sack fabric and I am very glad I got to work with them.  I made several pillows and reupholstered a chair using them.

I recently purchased a hemp table cloth from Wendy that I was able to use to make pillows.  I love the tone of the wheaty color of the fabric accented with stripes.  This is a bit coarser of material, but I appreciate the way the coarse texture accentuates the fibers that were used to weave the fabric.  But its not too coarse for a throw pillow, they will be listed this weekend for sale on the Penny and Ivy online shop. 

I am grateful that Wendy does what she does.  Her influence has improved my business by supplying quality fabrics and providing loads of inspirtaion through her photography and love for textiles.  And she is a pleasure to interact with. Let me leave you with one of my favorite pictures done by Wendy.

Photo by The Textile Trunk

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