Monday, 18 July 2022

Get your Stash Ready

I am happy to welcome all of you to the first week of our Summer Sew Along. It feel a bit strange writing Summer as it is Winter here in Australia. :-) I hope you had a chance to go through your textiles and select a few items that you think you might use for repurposing during the Sew Easy Sew Along "Ideas and inspirations for working with recycled materials" for Sip Tea and EPP with Irina @nordiccrafter and Larisa @stitchingnotes.

As we mentioned in our previous post, once you gather all the items, sort them into three piles: keep for repurposing, donate and throw away. I work with small makes, so I am always on a lookout for small zips, cute buttons or tags, interesting pieces of embroidery or appliqué and lace. Even if I decide to throw away an item, I make sure to cut off all those treasures. I also keep a few larger pieces as bedsheets, pillowcases as they are great for making the inner layer of cushions, pillow covers and quilts or even for using them as testing fabric for patterns.

This week we are focusing on old linens that include things like curtains, pillow cases, bedsheets, doilies, table linens. Once you have selected a few items from this category you would like to work with, inspect them thoroughly to see if there are any stains that need to be treated.

Unlike Irina, I don't have a large stash of textiles, and I don't really have vintage items that I am ready to cut up for my makes. Rather I have some small bits and pieces that I have collected over the years mostly business shirts, baby clothes, curtains and crochet lace. I usually sort and wash my textiles as I go and then store them away in a bag and a box ready to be used whenever I have an idea.

Irina has written a great informative post on how to wash, restore, sort and store your linens. If you have a large volume of items that you need help with, please go over to Irina's blog to read her post and hopefully learn something new.

I like to use a couple of professional stain removing powders that help remove yellowish discolouration and unpleasant odorous from old textiles. I also use bicarbonate of soda (baking SODA, not powder) mixed with a washing powder for washing old things. It is the most easiest and affordable solution. I never use any chlorine or bleach for washing, especially old treasured textiles.

I always try washing the textiles before cutting them. Sometimes, even if I washed all those things before storing them away in a box or a cupboard for a long time, I make sure to inspect the textiles again before working with them, and treat any spots and give them a good wash once more. Another reason why I prefer to give the old textiles a good wash before using them, is that some fabrics loose its strength if they are exposed to sunlight for too long, like old curtains for example, and they might simply rip apart in a finished make if you wash it.

Once the textiles are clean and dry, I press them carefully with a warm iron. When I iron cotton fabrics, especially whites and neutral, I always make sure that my iron is clean as any residue on the surface of the iron would leave permanent marks on the fabric. For fabrics like linen, I use steam or a spray of water to help get rid of any wrinkles. Since the fabrics have been washed, they won't shrink if steamed.

This vintage curtain lost its whiteness and spark after years and years of not being used and dragged from place to place. I soaked it in a special stain removing and brightening powder and it worked wonders. I machine washed it and it came out without any rips, so that's a good sign. I am not sure how easy it would be working with this fabric, but I am hoping to make a few small makes that would bring me joy.

I am planning on using this hand made crochet trim that my Mum added to a tea towel years ago as well. The towel has been gone for a long time now, but the lace is in a good condition and should be easy to use.

I love using textiles from old business shirts in my work and I have collected a small stash of them. You can see on the photo below how washed and cut up pieces turned yellow after being stored for a long time. I gave them a good soak in warm water with soda and washing powder for a couple of hours, then I hand washed them, dried and gave them a good press. So now they are ready to be used during the third week of our sew along.

A few years ago I cut up some of baby clothes and kept all these pieces in a plastic bag in a box. When I got them out in preparation for this sew along, I noticed that some of the pieces needed to be treated again. I gave them a good soak and hand washed them to prevent them from stretching and fraying. The pieces are now free from stains and bright white, and ready to be used as well. I have an idea what I want to turn them into and cannot wait to share it with you all during the third week of our sew along.

I have a few vintage handkerchiefs that I was gifted by a friend and when I saw this one, I knew right away what I wanted to turn it into.

I am looking forward to seeing what old treasured you have found in your home and want to repurpose and what methods of washing and cleaning you use. Happy washing! Larisa xo

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