Last week, I was delighted to hear from a reader & fellow stitcher I hadn’t heard from for a while! She wrote and sent a picture about a clean up job that she recently undertook on some embroidery. There are two reasons I’m sharing her story and photo with you: 1. There’s some good information here about cleaning a piece of time-stained needlework; and 2. The needlework is quite vibrant and pretty! I think you’ll like it.
JoWynn had two pieces of crewel embroidery stitched by her grandmother in the 1960’s, and both pieces were wrapped around cardboard and framed behind glass. Over time, the linen had become darkened and discolored and stained by the frames (and probably by the cardboard, too), so she wanted to clean them up and properly mount them for display.
She didn’t want to pay a rather large price (with shipping) for just the small amount of Orvus she would need to clean the pieces up, so instead, she researched the ingredients and found an old bottle of shampoo, the first ingredient of which was sodium lauryl sulfate. She decided to take a chance. She made up a sink full of suds with the shampoo… and submerged the two pieces of embroidery!
The conclusion: “The embroideries came out looking beautiful. The linen is closer to what I assume was the original color. At least, it is paler than it was, and the woolen colors look much brighter and richer against it.”
Aren’t the pieces wonderful? So rich and vivid! I would never have associated these colors with crewel kits from the 60’s – but it just goes to show you that certain things – including color schemes – do withstand the test of time. And I think JoWynn’s clean-up job will ensure that her grandmother’s embroideries will continue to withstand the test of time beautifully!
Just a little note: This worked magnificently for JoWynn! I tend to be a little more cautious, unless I’m already at the Last Resort stage. If possible, you should always test first before submerging whole pieces of embroidery into an unsure solution. Shampoos today can contain products that can leave residue behind, too, so be sure of your ingredients and of their effects before you launch into a clean-up job.