restoring vintage linens

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rebecca blood

Sep 17, 2001, 8:53:27 PM9/17/01
hi, I'm interested in learning all I can about restoring vintage

I'd appreciate any pointers to good books, websites, or just the
benefit of your experience.

currently I'm especially interested in:

1) how can you tell if a piece is so delicate that only conservation
measures are appropriate?

2) what are the steps to restoring a piece of old linen, ie cleaning
it and putting it back into service?

3) does anyone have tips on identfying fabric content on an old piece?
(when the burn test Just Won't Do.)

4) what is the best approach with a small (almost) hole in the middle
of a damask piece? re-weaving? another sewing technique?

5) in fact, what sewing techniques do you regularly employ in
restoring the linens you use, collect, or sell?

thanks for your time and expertise.

best wishes,

Sep 19, 2001, 7:39:58 PM9/19/01
On 17 Sep 2001 17:53:27 -0700, (rebecca
blood) wrote:

There's some very good questions. Much is a matter of usage. I sell
many vintage linens, everything from crochet doilies to damask table
linens to bedsheets and pillowcases to quilts and coverlets.

1) I would reserve the conservation measures only for old, rare and
well-made linens. If you have ordinary twentieth century crochet
doilies (for instance) with weak and breaking thread, the kindest
thing is to put them out of their misery. If you have a piece that
you would cry if it fell apart in the wash, then by all means, start

2) Items that I expect will be used I wash with the method most likely
to be used by the new owner. That usually means into the washer, with
regular laundry detergent, spot treatments as necessary. Chlorine
bleach sparingly, only if necessary. Tumble dry until just damp, then
iron dry.

3) Experience. Synthetics will feel different than natural fibers,
and will smell different when ironed. Linen is stronger wet than dry,
unlike most other fibers. If you can get a thread of cotton or linen
(from a hidden hem, perhaps) and pull it apart, the cotton will have
curly fibers and the linen straight. Cotton damask was often sized to
improve body, if it feels chalky when you rub it between your fingers,
that is an indication of such sizing.

4 & 5) I've never tried to reweave damask, since the value of a piece
with a mend would not be much more than the value of the piece with a
tiny hole. I have occasionally mended evenweave pieces. Use a thread
of the same material as the piece you are mending (if you can filch a
thread from the hem, that's great.) Don't leave knots; instead, weave
the thread into the piece.


--seen my boxes?

Andy Dingley

Sep 23, 2001, 8:52:40 AM9/23/01
to (rebecca blood) a écrit :

>hi, I'm interested in learning all I can about restoring vintage

Try this site

Lots of really good information of conservation of all sorts of

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