At Quittner, our color family tends towards earthy tones and neutrals. We have preference for creams, grays, beiges, deep blues, mustardy yellows, and dark greens. Each spring, though, the store gets a little bit brighter when we break out our seasonal Signature Floral Tablecloth with it's vibrant pinks and purples, and grassy green.
The story behind the tablecloth is like much of what we do: it comes from the past. The pattern was inspired by a 1790s waistcoat that caught Ben's eye and wouldn't let go. Waistcoats — or fancy vests — of that time were often elaborately embroidered with colorful floral motifs. Winding vines and bunches of flowers crowded the edges, while the field was scattered with buds. Each piece is a work of art, and the few that remain are predominately in museum collections.
But Ben's idea wasn't to reproduce a waistcoat, but instead to translate the pattern onto a linen that could be used casually. After all, those precious pieces from the past were worn. They didn't always exist in glass cases. They went to parties and dances and teas. They got splashed with wine and sprinkled with sugar off of a confectionary dessert. Like them, this linen, he envisioned, would become a part of our — and your — everyday life.
The first step in bringing this idea to life was finding Elizabeth Halpern, a local print designer in the Hudson Valley. If we were going to reinterpret the embroidery into a print, we needed someone capable of doing that flawlessly. Liz started out by refining the color palate and working on shapes.
Through many rounds of back and forth, we decided to lean into summer and spring colors, welcoming in abundance.
After the design was mapped out, it was time to start coloring it in.
Instead of refining all the edges, we wanted to retain the hand-painted nature of the print, spotlighting the artistry that went into every step of it from the 18th century embroiderers to Liz's work today.
With design files in hand, we worked with a fabric printer in Pennsylvania who prioritizes ethical and environmentally-friendly methods and materials. At this part of the process, we decided to keep the selvedge, or the finished long edges, on the fabric instead of hemming it or cutting it off. This reduces waste and softens the look of the linen cotton canvas.
We delivered the fabric to MadeXHudson, and they hemmed the short, raw ends to create three lengths: 75", 100", and 120" (each is 60" wide). People often ask us what these lengths translate to functionally, and we recommend a 75" for a 6-person table, a 100" for an 8 person table, and a 120" for a 10+ person table.
The linen cotton canvas softens with washing, and it can be machine or line-dried. Ironing, thank goodness, is optional.
The Signature Floral is available on a white or green gingham field as long as the weather stays warm. It hibernates each winter.