TeaWorksCottage's Profile

About

We love old useful things and share great useful things. We only offer vintage in great condition and occasionally list something less than perfect because it's unique or should be a little shabby. We collect and hand dye vintage cotton trim and lace in herb dye baths and are often asked how we do it... you can read a little about that after the Care of Vintage Linens.

And our blog: www.cotterjames.blogspot.com has some useful info too.

CARE OF VINTAGE LINENS

Good quality linens should never be ironed wet or starched. If stored for a long period of time, the starch will attract moisture and invite insects, especially silverfish. Ironing sharp creases will break fibers and over time, dry rot will affect the fabric. Soaking good linen in brighteners like Oxy and bleach will soften fibers and…

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  • Joined January 27, 2008

About

We love old useful things and share great useful things. We only offer vintage in great condition and occasionally list something less than perfect because it's unique or should be a little shabby. We collect and hand dye vintage cotton trim and lace in herb dye baths and are often asked how we do it... you can read a little about that after the Care of Vintage Linens.

And our blog: www.cotterjames.blogspot.com has some useful info too.

CARE OF VINTAGE LINENS

Good quality linens should never be ironed wet or starched. If stored for a long period of time, the starch will attract moisture and invite insects, especially silverfish. Ironing sharp creases will break fibers and over time, dry rot will affect the fabric. Soaking good linen in brighteners like Oxy and bleach will soften fibers and damage them. Acids like lemon juice will also damage fiber over time. The best care of good quality linens is immediate soaking of stains and washing as soon as possible. Oil based stains can be rubbed with cornstarch to absorb the oil from the fiber. Warm, not hot, water is best for old linens. Use a good laundry detergent and don't overload the washer. Rinse the linen throughly after it comes out the washer. Not all soap and water is removed in top loaders, and front loaders can leave residual dirty water and soap in the fabric as well. Fels Naptha is a good stain remover and can be rubbed into the stain and allowed to soak without damage to old fabric.

Remove the linens from the dryer as soon as they are almost dry and lay flat or hang until completely dry. The fibers will have re-hardened and can be safely folded and stored. If you like to iron your linens, remove them while the damp but not wet. Never pull seams out while ironing a piece. You'd be surprized at the 'give' fiber has. Gently smooth hems, the iron with steam. Lay the piece flat or hang until the fibers are completely dry and hard again. Then fold and store.

NATURAL DYE is well worth the effort to produce color with dimension and subtle tone. First the lace is scoured so all soil and age is washed away. Next comes the pre-mordant soak in a vat of Tara. This natural woody material contains a good percentage of tannin which soaks into the cotton and will allow the cotton to accept the natural herb color. Cotton and other cellulose fiber like linen don't accept natural color easily so the fiber has to be made to accept it. After 3 to 4 days in the cold tara vat, the cotton is removed and rinsed. In the meantime, the color vat is prepared. Usually, the herb is soaked for a day or two in cold water to soften the fiber. Then the vat is gently heated to almost boiling for several hours and allowed to cool. The liquid is strained and the plant material is saved for another round.

The cool cotton is then entered into the vat and it it heated gently again. The longer the work remains in the vat, the darker the color. The work is removed the allowed to cool then rinsed in cool water. At this point some more fun can begin by entering the work into another after-dye mordant bath; like vinegar, baking soda, ammonia or washing soda. There are a few others like copper and iron that I sometimes use to change the color entirely, or make it brighter or tone it down. Totally fun! When I'm happy with the result, I wash the final result in regular laundry detergent to make sure it is free of excess dye and that the color is set. The final rinse is always in distilled water.

The results are always beautiful and while commercial dyes are quicker, I just think that the pallet and tones are really worth the extra time and effort.

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