The collecting and restoring of antique linens can be complex, depending upon the condition of the cloth. Many old household linens were stored filled with starch, which damages the cloth over time since it hardens and causes wearing and tears in the fabric where it is folded and creased. The owner of an antique linen must determine if conserving, repairing, or mending are appropriate.
Types of antique linens may be identified by the place where they were made. Some well-known locations for making heirloom-quality household linens include Ireland, for its Irish linen and lace, and Madeira, known for a type of linen called Madeira cloth. The type of embellishment on the linens may make them collectable, especially embroidery, including Victorian-era redwork and bluework, which use only red or blue thread. Lace embellishments on linens also make them collectable, such as Battenberg lace.