Vintage Textiles Tips

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Should I clean my antique textiles before storing?


Before storing away your Antique linens, clothes etc., make sure they are cleaned. Stains can set in and show up even years later. Perspiration marks on clothes especially, may show site unseen now before storing, but with skin oils remaining will show up later.

What is the best way to clean my antique linens?


To clean rust stains on Antique linen or lace, make a thick paste of salt and white vinegar. Rub it on the stain and let set, then rinse out with clear water. For additional, all-over cleaning, mix 3 parts water and white vinegar and let soak for an hour.

How should I iron my vintage linens?


The ironing of vintage linens, while very rewarding, does take care and time. Turn on your favorite music to make the ironing task productive and enjoyable. Ironing is learned art-practice makes perfect. Use a well padded ironing board and a clean steam iron in excellent working order. Use the proper iron temperature for each fabric. Steam helps smooth out wrinkles as long as the irons's heat setting is appropriate for steam. If unsure of the fabric content, start with a very low heat setting and test a small section first.

While ironing always keep the iron moving while smoothing and positioning the piece with your other hand. This will prevent iron impressions and scorching.

Heavily wrinkled pieces can be first steam pressed to lie flat, then lightly dampened with a water spray bottle, spray starch or spray sizing. A second ironing should make the wrinkles disappear.

Linen fabric may be ironed when slightly damp, in fact some linen experts recommend this.

How should I store my vintage linens?


Don't fold an item the same way after each laundering, this causes stress on the fabric fibers where the folds appear. Don't store vintage linens in plastic bags for extended periods, they need to breathe. Don't store linens in a cedar chest due to the cedar oil which can stain linens. Store on an open airy shelf in the linen closet. Use acid free paper if wrapping items for extended storage. Many larger items such as runners and tablecloths can be effectively stored rolled up. Several smaller items can be rolled together, rolling eliminates the fabric fiber stress which can happen along folds.

What are the different names for Quilts?

Quilting Types

Pieced=many small sections joined together at the edges.

Applique=top layer has contrasting fabric sewn into it.

Plain/Wholecloth=top and bottom layers of unbroken fabric.

How should I clean my linens?


Cleaning procedures should be limited to hand washing, soaking and line drying only. Machine washing and drying is not recommended. Soaking and hand washing should be conducted in large basins and recommend that cold to lukewarm water be used. Do not try to clean too many items at once. This will reduce stress and strain incurred by the item and facilitate rinsing [most crucial step].

An overnight soak in cold water should start the process. Following the soak, drain the basin and fill again with cool water and a gentle liquid detergent [Woolite works well]. Rubbing the fabric harshly must always be avoided. It is advised to swish the linens around in soapy water. Following the soaking, drain the soapy water and rinse three times in cool water [spring water if your water supply has minerals or other contaminates]. Gently pat to remove some of the excess water, do not ring or handle in a harsh manner, let it drip! Hang dry on an outside line. If an outside line is not available, a drying rack in a well ventilated area will work. Some items benefit greatly from exposure to sunshine, some age marks and light stains are faded or completely removed by exposing to sunshine.

The above advice should be adjusted slightly for brightly colored fabrics, or wools and linens with colored embroidery. Test a small section for color fastness.

What if I scorch my linens while ironing?


If you scorch a vintage textile while ironing, rub a cut onion over the scorch, then soak the cloth in cold water for one hour. Rewash and try again.

What do some of the designs on a quilt mean?


Quilts were not only to keep people warm, but many times commemorated important events in one's life-births, weddings, moving etc. Some designs have special meanings, for example a pineapple medallion means hospitality, cornucopias signify abundance and hearts were commonly used on wedding quilts. As with many antiques, they told a story to the holder that was often mysterious and fascinating.

Any factors to consider before cleaning vintage linens?


Fabric type, weight, age and condition are all factors to be considered when cleaning. Some vintage linens are delicate in nature with fine lace and handwork, while others are sturdy and strong. Some vintage linens have seen considerable use while others were stored away unused for generations.

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