Don't be scared to do this..........
But a word of
Please Please Please
don't do this with antique samplers wool or linen.
Let the professionals clean those.
And certainly do NOT do this with any
modern tapestry stitched with wool
they will shrink!
Are you sitting comfortably? (A rather long post.......) I'd get a cuppa
I will tell you a story or two...........
Long before I went back to work after bring up our boys, and when my parents lived in a little village in Devon (late 80's early 90's). One of the lovely lady's of the village WI was an embroiderer and a teacher, although she was in her mid-seventies she was also a WI judge. I was visiting mum and she took me to visit her to show me a piece of tapestry she was working on for the village hall. I took some of my own work and mum thought she would take some of hers too. We didn't tell her who's work was who's. She said if I was giving marks this piece would have 100% and this piece would have 60%. Mum said why so high on this piece. She said well, this piece has been washed and pressed this piece hasn't. Mum said how can you tell? She held up both pieces of work and said can you see.........? There was a brown markings on one piece, that is sweat. Sweat from the hands, that is why the people who restore pieces of work wear gloves. She went on to say no matter how much you wash your hands, hands sweat, and over the years the sweat marks that you cannot see to begin with will eventually turn brown.
This was my piece of work, a bible bookmark crocheted from ordinary sewing thread, not sure it deserves 100% though.
Some years ago when I worked in a craft shop a lady came in to see me. Her name is Diana (real name). She'd been in the shop the afternoon before but was advised to come and see me one morning which she duly did. She wanted to create and stitch a sampler. When we worked out what she actually wanted, I said come to see me at home one afternoon. She came and bought cake, and we became great friends. We discussed what she wanted and the design which I designed for her. The following morning Diana came to the shop to purchase what she needed, and a couple afternoons later she came to see me again, and again with cake - nice lady. I worked out the area she needed to stitch on and gave her the chart which I worked out for her with my cross-stitch programme, she went away and stitched.
Before she went, I said please bring the sample back to me before you get it framed it will need to be stiffened. Diana looked at me blankly and said OK. A few weeks later Diana phoned and said please could she visit she had finished stitching. That afternoon Diana showed me the sampler which I gently took from her and and carefully put it into one of those laundry bags (a large dress size one) and pinned the cross-stitch round the edges to the laundry and put it in my washing machine on a 40 degree wash. Diana protesting I sat her down with a cuppa and lots of cake, I knew she would protest, but I assured her everything would be OK and if it wasn't I would re-stitch it, but I had great confidence with it all.
While waiting for the wash to finish, I prepared a towel on the floor to take the size of fabric and to be able to iron it flat. I put the iron onto warm up and retrieved the sampler from the washing machine. Unpinned it from the laundry bag and laid it face down on the towel and pressed it dry. Diana could not bring herself to watch, she just kept protesting. I then got a piece of white tissue paper and placed it on top of the sampler and gently rolled the sampler and gave it to her with the instructions to unroll it when she got home to air for a couple of days before she took it to the framers.
A couple of weeks later she came into the shop again, she had also bought her elderly neighbour with her. Her neighbour was a regular customer of ours and we had great conversations with her. That morning my bosses were in too. Diana brought the framed sampler, she was ecstatic with the results but still protested about me washing it. Her neighbour said you should always wash your work, never frame it without washing first! I smiled at Diana and said see........
This is my sampler I stitched for our eldest son and daughter-in-law. Some of the elements of Diana's sampler in this one (click on pictures to look closer)
The original post seven years ago
I wrote this post today just to say please don't be scared to wash your work. How do you think in the thirties and forties when people had afternoon tea. How do you think they washed those beautiful hand embroidered tablecloths after tea or cream, or butter was spilt on them? They had to be soaked and washed and probably scrubbed, and washing was done at one temperature hot! As the water cooled the delicates were washed, not sure embroidered tablecloths were classed as delicates then!