Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off – A Traycloth

Don't Do This

Don’t Do This

One of the few things that made being poorly tolerable when I was a small child was the way my food arrived – on the good china, on a tray, covered with a traycloth. A hand embroidered traycloth, no less!

It wasn’t enough to encourage me to malinger, I hasten to add. But anything to give the invalid a lift…

Not surprisingly, the family stock of traycloths is somewhat reduced since those days, many of those traycloths having disintegrated after long and faithful service, so I though that I would use some of the flower sprays found among the Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off patterns to embroider some more.

I decided to make my own transfers, and promptly discovered a forgotten hazard that I should have added to that post on Transferring Designs. Whatever you do, if you are using a steam iron, Switch Off The Steam! Not only is the transfer not usable again, it didn’t work the first time!

Flower Spray

Flower Spray

Once I’d got the steam switched off, things improved, and I got two sprays transferred onto diagonally opposite corners of a traycloth I found lying around, unadorned. It’s linen, too, so I’m amazed it has taken me this long to embellish it!

Starting The Spray

Starting The Spray

I’m no botanist, so I can’t hazard a guess at the flower this is intended to be. It may not be intended as anything up a pretty combination of shapes, of course, in which case any eccentricities of stitching are unlikely to matter very much..

I’ve decided to go for some bright, cheerful yellows – to cheer up any invalids who might see it!


  1. deanna7trees says:

    some nice patterns. i’ve bookmarked it for the future. thanks for the link.

  2. Sue Jones says:

    I don’t think the person who drew the muff pattern was a botanist, either, so I wouldn’t worry! My best guess would be a rather skinny hyacinth, but who knows?

    I like the spray effect on the tracing. You may have invented a new art form here.


  3. Lady Fi says:

    How lovely! I remember my grandmother having such tray cloths too.

  4. jenclair says:

    I can imagine that having a meal served on the best china with a lovely tray cloth would , indeed, give the invalid a lift. Funny how many of us remember the gentle treatment of the (very few, in my case) times we were ill.

  5. Lin says:

    I don’t remember having traycloths as a child but when my Nana died we found some beautiful ones tucked away in a drawer. We have no idea if she made them or maybe was given them. However as my Mum was not interested they came my way and I have loved using them. I picked up a beautiful one here in a vide de grenier a couple of years ago too. I recently discovered the Lady’s Magazine stitch off and it is great to see some of the patterns in use. Enjoy your stitching. xx

  6. Penny Baugh says:

    Having lunch served on a traycloth might have inspired me to be ‘sick’ more often!! *smile* I can see what a lift it would give a person – and I especially like the yellow flower.

  7. Carolyn says:

    I still use tray cloths and table throws. They are the best thing to keep the flys away on a hot summer day and boy do they come running when there is food on an outside table. Looking in the linen press I can see that I could do with a couple more for when summer arrives. At the moment it is freezing as the wind blows north off the snow.

  8. Terrie says:

    Some vintage are very good memory of the childhood. I love tray cloth.

  9. The tray cloth is going to be lovely and would indeed be a bright spot for anyone who finds it on their serving tray.

    Thanks so much for linking up to last week’s Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!

  10. Janice says:

    I’m not sure what happened on the ‘cautionary’ picture at the top…?

    We never had tray cloths, nor trays for that matter. But I did make a tray cloth for each of my grandmothers, both of which I now have, and neither of which has ever been used!

    When my sons were unwell we had a special triple-woven ‘Poorly-Boy Blanket’ that they would lie under on the sofa. Still have it, up in a chest.

  11. Megan Hodges says:

    How lovely