Linen was a major part of a woman's dowry and was considered a status symbol, a visible sign of the family’s prosperity.
One of the most important duties of the lady of the house was to take care of the linen and ensure that it was properly stored. The linen cabinet and linen press therefore occupied a prominent place in the interior of any home. The linen was generally washed and bleached outside. After it had dried, it was starched and ironed on an ironing table covered with a soft woollen cloth. Finally, the carefully folded linen was fed into a heavy linen press and formed into a pattern.
Antwerp, seventeenth century