Tablecloth History

Retro Staff |  3 Comments

The History of the Table Cloth

Tablecloths have been in use since the Middle Ages in all but the very poorest homes. Linen as a table covering started with the aristocracy in France and Italy and spread throughout Europe as well as through the social classes. Cotton and silk also became popular table coverings.

In the 1930s, thrift became extremely important. Both department stores and catalogs began to offer fabric and patterns so homemakers could make their own tablecloths. To offset the dreariness of the Depression, fabrics in bright colors and strong prints became very popular.

During WWII, both fabrics and dyes were very limited. Tablecloths were being made with very flat-looking designs on them due to the use of inferior cloths and the use of rollers to print designs on them. The result was tablecloths that were not as colorful those made in the 30s. Post-WWII vibrant colors, texture and bold designs were back for tablecloths, once shortages were ended. Design themes were both bright and whimsical, with Mexican and cartoon prints being especially popular.

The 1950s was a prosperous time for most households in the US. Modern designs, such as those of Ray and Charles Eames, influenced all textile designs. Space Age graphics, such as geometrics and freeform abstracts became trendy for kitchen textiles, including tablecloths. Another development during the 1950s was a new way to create oilcloth as a tablecloth fabric. Originally canvas covered in paint and used as floor coverings, oilcloth could now be manufactured as a vinyl cloth bonded onto a cotton mesh. This new fabric has proved itself to be waterproof as well as fade and stain resistant.

There was a general trend beginning in the 60s to move away from all things traditional including having dinners at home gathered around a graciously set table. But many people today have been returning to old traditions in their homes, and making a valiant attempt to get the entire family around the table together to share at least one meal in the day. If you’re one of these people, one of our retro-inspired tablecloths may be just the item you need to create an inviting setting for your next family meal. In our Kitchen Tablecloths category, we have an assortment of traditional and inspiring table coverings to choose from including:

* Cotton (some come with coordinating napkins)
* Oilcloth (just wipe to clean, great for outdoor use!)

So be sure to check out the wide selection of retro-inspired tablecloths at Retroplanet and enjoy getting your family together around a table once again.