Have Your Say

3rd November 2023

Some Suggestions and a Story

In this week’s Have Your Say we’re sharing some of the many suggestions we’ve received to a recent query posed in All Stitched Up! along with a story about motivation and perfection.

In ASU #394, Debbie shared a current dilemma she was having in the hope for any ideas or help from the Inspirations community. She recently discovered her beloved embroidered scarf had some mildew on it after being packed away. We received several responses to share with everyone and hopefully one of them will be a suitable solution to restore Debbie’s beautiful scarf!

First an interesting suggestion offered by Jean. To avoid getting any items wet, she says bran might work, an old idea for cleaning items. Either bury the item in bran or rub the bran gently into the stained area. Brush away the bran and repeat the process if necessary. She hasn’t used the method herself but has heard it can work.

Both Kate & Karen think using a cotton bud to gently work at the mildew spots could do the trick. They suggest using a mild soap suitable for cashmere/wool or a paste of Napisan and water. Kate also suggested Debbie could try setting the colours first by soaking the scarf in salted cold water, then gently rinse after working at the mildew and leave to dry in the sun. ‘The sun may help, if only with the smell from the mildew.’ 

Karen had another suggestion if removing the mildew fails; ‘you could always embroider a lovely flower over the mark’. A lovely suggestion, Karen, there is always room for more beautiful stitches!

Helen is confident that baby sterilising tablets or liquid would remove the mildew stains by painting the solution onto the mildew area with a tiny paintbrush, being careful not to let it run into the coloured threads. Maybe trying a test patch first to be sure. ‘I use this method for all stains on my clothing and have done so for years. It even gets turmeric stains out first time!’ 

Another possibility is a weakened solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide, suggested by Sandie. A cotton ball dabbed gently over the mildew, will remove it from the fabric but may take more than one treatment. 

Alicia asked us to direct Debbie to the PieceWork magazine, where a three part article by Christina Garton, called How to Safely Store (Most) Textiles can be found. If removing the mildew isn’t possible, she thinks preventing the problem might at least help!

Finally, Hella offered a fascinating solution. Her tip is from her mum who lived in Germany and would use this technique for delicate fabrics. ‘Wait for the next full moon, lay the stained item on top of a clean white towel, spray lightly with some cold distilled water and place outside under the full moon overnight. Repeat if needed. It doesn’t work all the time, but it never hurts.’

And now, from suggestions to a story…

We opened All Stitched Up! issue #394 with our musings after reading Debbie Preissinger’s article titled ‘Keeping the Motivation Going’. Debbie opened her article with a simple question, ‘Do you find yourself overwhelmed and unsure where to go with your needle arts project?’. 

Mendie, couldn’t help but respond to Debbie’s comments with a story of her own. ‘In 2006 shortly after discovering the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild I decided to go for instructor certification status. I was given two designs to stitch and have evaluated by the instructor. 

I had everything ready – design, threads, tools but could not get started. I did not know where to start, some of the stitches were brand new to me. I got out every book I could think of that might offer some assistance and it sat on my table for two months while I tried to figure out how to start, where to start.

It finally dawned on me to concentrate on just one section of the design, complete it and then move on to another section. That did the trick for me and I was off and stitching. Fortunately, I received my certification at our annual seminar in 2007.  Now I am teaching wherever I can and love sharing Brazilian Embroidery.’

Mendie added a concluding note about perfection. ‘This is what I tell my students when they start grumbling that something is not perfect:

  1. I cannot help perfectionists as perfection is a personal decision, my idea of perfect is going to be different from yours.  
  2. Don’t be too hasty to rip out your stitching until you have had a few days to live with it. Prop it up somewhere and view it every day for 3 or 4 days and if it still drives you crazy, then redo it.  
  3. Remember, your art will not be viewed with a magnifier, unless you are having it judged, so keep that in mind.  
  4. Last but not least you can grumble for about 5 minutes and then quit.  Do not point out what you see as errors. No one else will notice them unless you point them out.’

Mendie, we love that when faced with an overwhelming stitching project you were able to find your way around the challenges and complete your pieces. An amazing achievement, well deserving of your certificate we’re quite sure. Your words about perfection have left us all thinking about how differently we view our own stitching compared to that of others… maybe we should all be a little easier on ourselves!

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