Caring for Vintage fabrics

Last week Elizabeth from Vintage Fabric Addict shared with us, some fabulous tips for purchasing vintage fabrics.  Today she gives some great suggestions on caring for the fabrics when you get them home.

If the fabric you have purchased that has a mark which is either mould, dust or rust spot from pins, how is the fabric best treated?

I'm fairly casual with my approach to mark removal. There is no point selling a fabric that's to be used when it's too delicate for a good wash. I give fabric a good swish about in wool wash if that's all it needs but if it has serious marks or dirt I swear by Napisan. The secret is not in the strength of the detergent but the length of time it's in the soak. I have at times soaked badly dirty cotton fabric for up to three days, with two changes of water.

Some marks will not come out and sometimes they get worse because the background can lighten up. Some fold areas will lose their colour and sometimes dyes run badly. Shrinkage is another possibility. Any concerns and you should test a small piece first.

By the way I'm really only talking about cotton here because other fabrics require other treatments.

Elizabeth, if you buy a piece of fabric that needs to be treated do you wash it then store it until it needs to be used or do you leave it and treat it when you are actually going to use it.

If it needs cleaning then clean it straight away, make sure it's bone dry before storage.

Does vintage fabric hold more value if it hasn't been washed? Should it be ironed?

Washed vintage fabric should not be ironed before you store it but it does need to be re-folded periodically to stop the creases becoming weakened.

I can only speak for myself I sell my fabrics unwashed because I think it's fun to be the first to wash it. I've never had a request or even an enquiry about if fabrics are washed or not. Having said all that, if a seller announced that all their vintage fabric was pre washed I would be reluctant to purchase.

Once you get your fabric home, how it is best kept to preserve it's value.

In my opinion the best way to give it value is to use it. Make something lovely, use it daily and enjoy it. Then when it's old and frayed cut it up and sew it into a quilt or an apron and go on enjoying it.

But if you are seriously collecting then I would store it in a cool dark place, in clean boxes lined with acid free tissue or you can rip up an old cotton sheet and line the box with that. I had my collection stored at the bottom of my wardrobe for years, wrapped in old sheets with camphor blocks and it was perfectly fine. Moths love dark, cramped, damp spaces so make sure there is some ventilation and you might want to use a damp rid-type of product.

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