Monday, July 21, 2008

Embroidery Q and A

I am no expert, by any stretch of the imagination, about vintage linens or embroidery. And I'm sure I probably break every rule when it comes to caring for/using them. But since there have been several questions, I'll share what I do with mine.


I always look vintage linens over carefully before buying to see what kind of shape they're in...if there are any frayed threads or excessive wear and tear. I also keep in mind what I plan to do with them~~will they be getting washed frequently or are they just for display. Sometimes the condition of the item decides what type of use it will get.



All of my embroidered pillowcases get washed on a heavy duty/long cycle in warm water with regular detergent (I swear by Tide because I have 2 boys who are dirt magnets and usually look like they've wrestled pigs by the end of the day.) The first wash of all of my vintage pillowcases includes a splash of bleach, then I only use bleach when they start to look dingy. I'm sure this is a huge no-no but I've never had any fall apart (knock-on-wood!) And I haven't noticed any excessive fading with the threads either. I also just throw them in the dryer with the rest of the sheets (and I only iron them for photos, lol!)

I will add that because I have a number of pairs of vintage pillowcases, I rotate them so each pair probably only gets used every 3-4 months.


The current set of pillowcases that I'm stitching are pre-printed. With plain pillowcases, I've done: iron-on patterns, traced patterns using a light box, and also traced patterns with an iron on transfer pencil (if you're unfamiliar, you trace your pattern onto tracing paper using an iron on transfer pencil and then you iron the pattern onto your fabric~~this will reverse the design.)

I only use DMC thread when embroidering pillowcases (or anything else that will be washed.) And I've never had any trouble with the color bleeding.

I hope this helps you :) I can understand anyone's hesitation about using vintage/embroidered pillowcases, I used to feel the same way. But I've come to realize that even if something fades or wears out~~the bit of joy I get every day from seeing and using them is far greater then knowing that they're tucked away in the closet.

As a post script......this isn't how I treat all of my vintage linens, just the bedding ;)

15 comments:

Beatrice said...

I also have always gone ahead and used my hand embroidered linens like they are every day things and not had a problem with fading or wear. Mind you I had a pair of pillow cases that wore out because of over use. 60years to be exact. My mother brought them with her from over seas that she stitched when I was born. But you know they were always in use and enjoyed.
Your pieces are beautiful and meant to be enjoyed.
No one can see them in the linen closet!
Have a great day!

Barbara said...

I think it's great that you use the vintage linens! It's so sad if they're just stuck away where no one can see them.

Cathy B said...

Staci - your pillowcases are lovely. I had an aunt that used to embroider her linens like this. She also used to do cutwork. I wish I had learned how to do cutwork!

Margaret said...

Staci
How wise you are to use and enjoy your vintage linens. You must get a lot of pleasure from them.
My mother used to do "fancywork" as she calls it, like this when she was a young girl 70 odd years ago and still has the first piece. I use it as a doily under a vase often and enjoy the memories it brings

Karrie said...

It's great that you use your vintage linens, they're usually so beautiful and different from what's made nowadays.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the info! I love the way you changed the color of yours to all red, instead of using the colors in the photo. You're right-what good will mine do me in a closet where no one will see them. I will definately be using mine.
P.S.-I update my blog all the time now. Stop by sometime.

Jessie said...

Very pretty pillows! i love the trims and embroidery.

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Jennifer said...

HAve you thought about using a non-chlorine or color safe bleach, like an oxygen bleach? Might be better for the linens. I had some vintage pillowcases - white with grey stitching and knotwork on the ends. The stitching held up fine, but over the years, the bleach "wore away" the fabric, making it very thin and delicate (and prone to tearing)

Joanie said...

I have vintage linens from when I was a little girl but I've never used them because they are stained yellow by hair oils and probably hairspray. I've never bleached them for fear they would fall apart or would fade. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to get the yellow stains out? I'd love to use them but they really are YELLOW where you'd lay your head on them.

~Julie~ said...

Hey Staci! I just got back online and I'm playing catch-up with blogs. lol I really like the vintage fabrics, pillowcases and such that you've been collecting! I don't collect anything, but it is always a joy to look at what you have! I hope you continue to come across these treasures! =)


~Julie~

Ruth Rachel Vendsel said...

Thanks for this post and it's wonderful that you get so much use and enjoyment from your linens!

Stitchingranny said...

Oh I so agree, what is the point of owning something beautiful if you dare not use it.

Lelia said...

Lovely. IDK. I have some small table covers made by one of DH's relatives. I use them. One is kinda torn - there are stains; however, our family does enjoy having them on the tables at the end of the couch & love seat. I carefully wash them & iron them. I figure they would never be appreciated stuck in a chest someplace.

You are RIGHT ON about using a colorfast fiber. If it is supposed to be USED, the fiber needs to be colorfast : )

Rima said...

Such pretty pillow cases. Thanks for all the tips...that was very helpful.