"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

18 October 2011

Old Fabric & Trim Lovelies- Musty to Fresh & Clean

SITUATION
A dear friend gave me some incredible old treasures: an old slip with a lovely flounce; an ancient dress and blouse remnants with amazing pieces of trim left; loads of fancy ribbons; antique cotton and handmade lace pillow covers in white; scraps & pieces of fabric in cotton, linen, and upholstery; and some cotton convas plain totes.

CHALLENGE
Stains on some things and lots of musty old odor permeating everything deeply. In addition, some pieces are so fragile from age that only a soak and gentle washing by hand was appropriate. The challenge? How to get all the pretties happy, clean and fresh-smelling.


Wet fabric, linens, lace and trim drying on my porch.

SOLUTION
As the smell made much of this lovely stuff unusable if the odor remained, I wasn't too worried about being a little rough and damaging it. But I wanted to preserve as much as possible. Here are the steps I took:

1) Pre-soak: I filled a tub with luke warm water about 6 inches deep, adding a gentle dish liquid and agitating the water to make suds. I then unfolded and shook out all pieces and added them to the water. A gentle swish to get everything submerged, and I left to soak for approximately 2 hours. After the soak, I rinsed in warm running water and squeezed gingerly to remove excess.

Results? I was amazed at the dirt these pieces had collected over time! The water was like a dark tea when I returned, and the rinsing water was brown and grey. There was debris and dirt left behind in the water. So, everything was cleaner, BUT the mildewy-musty-old smell was very strong still.

2) Vinegar Bath: I moved this step to the basement (where my washing machine lives) to avoid stinking up my apartment with vinegar fumes! I took the wet pieces to the washing machine, where I had filled the washer for a small load using warm water and added 1 cup of vinegar. I submerged everything. taking care to open up folded pieces, and used my hand to agitate the water. I left to soak overnight. The next day, I removed the bundle to the laundry sink for a rinse in warm running water and a squeeze.

Results? I was super surprised at how just 1 cup of white vinegar seemingly removed the mildew and must odors! I didn't get excited yet, though, as one soak remained to ensure the things were smell-free for good! A tiny bit of some odor remained, but a just plain "old" smell rather than mildew.

3) Final Soak: I refilled the washer for a small load, adding warm water again along with a cap full of natural liquid laundry soap. I made suds with my hands, and added the linens and lace and fabric, swishing and submerging. I left to soak for 3 hours. I then rinsed well, squeezed out excess wettage, and set aside.

I decided to chance tossing the fabrics in the dryer on permanent press for 20-30 minutes, as it all seemed pretty sturdy. The rest of the pieces I hung to air dry on my back porch railing.

The results? DAISIES! Seriously, in most pieces not a lick of musty odor remains, and some have a tiny tinge of "old" smell, although nothing unpleasant. Some stuff even smells like detergent (I use very a mild-scented one). SUCCESS! No pieces lost or destroyed. Lots of beautiful lovelies to inspire and be made into crafty accessories!

2 comments:

Paula Paints Pets said...

That's such a lovely photo of all the fabric drying!

SilentLotus Creations said...

Thanks, Paula! :)