Care of Needlework

Care of Needlework

Unless you have used thread  that is not colourfast such as a varigated thread, after you have finished stitching your needlework piece you should always wash it. Even if it doesn't look dirty it will have accumulated dirt and oils from handling it; Washing will also help to remove hoop marks and let you reshape and block the piece so that it is square

Start by placing your needlework face up on the flat surface that you are going to dry it on This should be board that you can easily stick pins into like Foamcore covered by a thick white absorbent towel. Wash towel several times before using it to block cross-stitch You then outline with pins the fabric that your needlework is on. To remove any PENCIL lines from fabric, apply the following mixture with a soft toothbrush:* 3 ounces of water, 1 ounce of rubbing alcohol, 2-3 drops dishwashing detergent

Test the stitching in your needle work for colourfastness by placing a drop of water on the different colours with a piece of clean blotting paper underneath and after a few seconds checking the paper for signs of the dye colour leaching through. If there is any leaching of the colours do not wash the item yourself take it to someone who will be able to wash it without having the colours run (most good drycleaners will have no problem but tell them that the colours will run in water). If your materials have been properly prewashed there should be no problem. Most good art stores will carry large sheets of white blotting paper.

If your needlework passed the prewash test the place it in the bath tub (or sink for smaller projects) in lukewarm water with a drop or two of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (ORVUS) soap and let is soak for several minutes, then wash very gently in ORVUS (sodium lauryl sulphate)soap by Procter and Gamble. This soap is used by museum conservators because it is non-abrasive and free of harsh chemicals. It is biodegradable and contains no phosphorus. It is used for everything from bathing animals to cleaning optical equipment. Look for it at your local needlework or quilting shop. Can't find it there? Buy it in bulk at your local farm and animal supply store where it is usually called Animal Shampoo.

. Gently suds the piece do not wring or twist the needlework but leave it flat in the container. Rinse by placing it in ten to twelve successive baths of cool to lukewarm clean water for up to 10 minutes each. If the water becomes cloudy (from the soap and dirt) Remove it immediately and replace the water with fresh water. If any of the colors begin to bleed, continue rinsing until the water remains clear. (See prewashing floss in the Threads section). When the piece is completely rinsed, do not wring it or twist it. Lay the wet piece flat on the white towel it's important to keep the stitched piece flat, not allowing stitched areas to touch each other or other areas of the fabric and stretch it back to fit in the marked outline that you made before you washed the needlework ( this process is called blocking) gently place towels on top to blot up the excess moisture Replace the towels as often as necessary and leave the needlework to dry. This will leave your piece back in its original shape without the need for ironing which could flatten or damage your needlework

A suggestion from a manufacturer dealing with removing dyes that have already bled is to soak the piece in ice cold water until the color starts to come out. Then rub an ice cube over the area; put the piece back in fresh ice water and soak again. Repeat the process until the area is clear. It may take several times, but it apparently works.

Sodium Perborate, available at pharmacies, can be used to treat spots and to whiten yellowed linens. Follow label directions for chemical and water proportions. Soak for 24 hours. Repeat as often as necessary using a new solution each 24 hours. You can soak up to a week. Wash thoroughly in Orvus then Rinse, rinse, rinse!!

To remove rust spots left by needles try a little hydrogen peroxide on a Q-tip, stronger solutions up to 100 volume can be bought at Beauty Supply outlets but be very careful and wear rubber gloves it is a very strong bleach,. Test an inconspicuous corner first.

You can take your needlework to the dry cleaner and have it dry-cleaned. Let the cleaner know the material components of the fabric and floss and if there are stains or marks what they are. This is not recommended for antique pieces because of the chemicals involved in the Dry Cleaning process.

Careful washing, drying and blocking help preserve and protect your stitched piece..

To store your pieces of cross stitch, make sure they are clean and dry before putting them away. Avoid storing fabric items for any length of time in polythene bags as the static electricity created by polythene attracts dirt and dust which will transfer readily to your fabric. Sealed polythene bags also prevent natural fibres such as cotton and linen from breathing, which can result in mildew attacks and eventually weaken or rot the fibres. Instead, store small items flat and larger ones rolled round an acid-free matt board tube protected by layers of white, acid-free tissue paper. For items which are too large to roll, fold loosely between layers of white tissue, making sure that each fold is padded with tissue. Store all the items in their own clean fabric bag, in a drawer, cupboard or other dark, dry and moth-free place. Bunches or small fabric bags of dried lavender flowers add a sweet scent and help deter moths.