Tuesday, April 4, 2017

When washing vintage fabrics, watch out for the rebel blue

When washing vintage textiles, beware of any unstable dyes.
My fellow guild members and I are excited about our upcoming visit from author, award-winning quilter, and vintage fabric rescuer, Mary Kerr. Mary's doing two workshops and presenting a lecture and trunk show this Friday and Saturday. Mary's quilting forté is all about incorporating vintage textiles with today's fabrics to create something "modern with a vintage twist." (Or vintage with a modern twist—however you choose to look at it.)

In preparation for the workshop, I decided to soak my vintage quilt blocks and textile fragments so they were free of any "vintage" dirt and dust. Even if vintage fabrics don't have an odor, you might be surprised at the dirt that's embedded. I was!

First, I filled the sink with tepid water and added a Vintage Textile Soak washing powder (ask YLQS for this).
Soaking vintage quilt blocks.
As the sink began to fill, I added the vintage pieces, gave them a little swish, and began to watch the water turn grey and grungy. After a few minutes, I pulled them out, squeezed the excess water and refilled the sink.
Soaking vintage quilt blocks.
The instructions that come with the Textile Soak product said the textiles can soak for 4 to 24 hours, or as needed. Mine did not have any stubborn stains, so I let them soak for about 5-10 minutes for each wash. I actually had two batches of blocks going simultaneously so as I worked with one batch, the other was soaking. It was 3 or 4 soaks before the water was clear—except for the batch with this blue one!
Vintage quilt block with unstable blue dye.
The dark blue fabric with the white dots had an unstable blue dye. Even with two additional baths using Synthrapol, it continued to bleed. (Nope. Not going in my project!)

The pieces dried out in the sunshine on a terry towel. It didn't take long.
Drying the vintage blocks outside.
A little pressing and I'm ready for the workshop.
Vintage Churn Dash blocks ready for a modern twist.
I just have to decide on my background fabric.

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