The Rose Tablecloth

Little is know about this elaborately embroidered tablecloth from the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection of Colorado State University.

Linda Carlson May 6, 2024 - 2 min read

The Rose Tablecloth Primary Image

Details of tablecloth. Maker unknown. Probably America. Date unknown. Silk thread on linen. 45 x 45 inches (114.3 x 114.3 cm). (92.56). Photos by Joe Coca

Although little is known about the provenance of this linen tablecloth, the needlework executed in silk thread is exceedingly fine and delicate. The embroidery shows the various stages in the life of a rose from bud to falling petals. The rose colors range from a very light pink to a deep red.

04 Rose Heart

The rose petals on one corner of the tablecloth have an almost perfect heart shape. This served as the inspiration for the Rose-Petal Heart project.

Evelyn Gustafson (1906–1996) donated the tablecloth to the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection of Colorado State University in 1992. Evelyn’s sister Dagmar Gustafson (1903–1983) was head of the Department of Textiles and Clothing (now the Department of Design and Merchandising) at Colorado State University from the 1950s until her retirement in 1968, and she established the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection at the university; the collection currently houses about 12,000 objects. The Gustafson Gallery in the Gifford Building on the university campus was dedicated to Dagmar in 1987. Both Dagmar and Evelyn were passionate collectors and made significant contributions to the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection.

Interested in learning this embroidery technique? This article and a companion project can be found in the January/February 2004 issue of PieceWork.

Also, remember that if you are an active subscriber to PieceWork magazine, you have unlimited access to previous issues, including January/February 2004. See our help center for the step-by-step process on how to access them.

Linda Carlson was the curator, Historic Collections, at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Originally published February 1, 2021; updated May 6, 2024.