Have Your Say

20th August 2021

15 Minutes, Stains and More From Area 51

In All Stitched Up! issue #291, Jan Jones asked whether anyone knew how to remove stains from an old tablecloth that had belonged to her mother. We put the question out, knowing that we would tap into a wealth of knowledge from our needlework community, and we certainly weren’t wrong! Several readers from the USA pointed Jan to a product called ‘Retro Clean’. Lois Griffith mentioned that this product came recommended by Cindy Needham. Cindy is a master quilter and collector of old linens in America. Apparently, Cindy swears by the product and Lois herself has achieved great results.

According to our readers, this is the stuff you need for cleaning old, stained linens (source)

Bette Kelley also recommended ‘Retro Clean’ for soaking and ‘Retro Wash’ for washing. Bette said she soaked a tablecloth that had been purchased in Serbia in 1964 and stored with no protection. She was thrilled to see that it came out 99% perfect. Apparently, the product is specifically made for cleaning age-stained textiles so could be just the solution for Jan. Sue Fassoles kindly sent a photograph of the packaging of this miracle product and suggested that it could be purchased on Amazon.

Jenny Dewhurst has also had success in cleaning linens with Napisan, a product widely available in Australia amongst other places. Jenny said that she’s achieved great results after a few soakings. So hopefully, with all of these suggestions, Jan will manage to get that tablecloth looking brand new again. If you do, Jan, we’d love to see a photograph.

From the same issue, a number of you were struck by the 15-minute rule that we talked about at length in the opening paragraph. Janet Henry thanked us for suggesting it. She is currently hand quilting a Baltimore Album quilt. She says she finds it difficult to sit down and just do it. But this article has inspired her to just do 15 minutes a day, which will help her to get it done. 

Using this technique, Janet will soon be able to get the quilt finished and move on to other projects she wants to do.

Janet should receive some inspiration from Lois Griffith’s story. Lois shared that she had a friend who was complaining that she didn’t have enough time to get a quilt finished. Lois suggested the 15-minute technique to her. A week later, her friend called and accused Lois of tricking her! Apparently, she had sat down for 15 minutes, but next time she looked at the clock, an hour had passed.

Needless to say, the quilt was soon finished and ready to warm her bed.

Tricia Barry has been using the 15-minute technique for a while now and is amazed at how much gets done. She says, ‘just getting ready to start something or putting away the last project’s items, gives space in our room and minds to go forth.’

Finally, UFOs might be unidentified or even unfinished, but they are certainly not uncommon.

Alice Hutchinson shared this beautiful project with us that had been a UFO for over 40 years! She started it when she was 9 years old by smocking the end of an old velvet curtain. She stitched some beads on it that she’d found at a jumble sale, loving how the combination reminded her of the fireplace at her grandparent’s house. And that was it for over four decades. It was only when she was in her 50s that a challenge by her local Guild encouraged her to get it out again and actually complete the project. She is thrilled that the image she had carried in her mind’s eye for all those years has been realised now that she had gained the skills and materials to finish it.

Alice finally finished this UFO after more than 40 years

Marla Redding is one of those admirable people who are comfortable passing on a UFO if it no longer interests her. She has never believed in stitching something she was not enjoying. However, in a recent clean-up she discovered a stash of UFOs deep in a cupboard. Some items she donated (although, like many of us, a donation to a charity shop is often accompanied by a purchase of someone else’s donated UFO!). Some other items she went ahead and finished. And at least one other, she’s just not quite sure what to do with it. It still ‘speaks’ to her but may need to be restarted with a different colour scheme.

Marla says she’s had it for 38 years already, so perhaps a few more years won’t matter?

There was one UFO she finished that was a needlepoint project passed on to her when her favourite aunt died. Luckily, her aunt had kept all of the supplies together and Marla had plenty of the materials she needed to get the project finished. It is now mounted in the top of a stool and is a very special reminder of her wonderful aunt who provided her with so much stitching inspiration over the years.

Marla’s stool that reminds her of her beloved aunt

We’d love to hear more of your stories, whether about UFOs, implementing the 15-minute rule, or any other stitching experiences you would like to share. Our door, and inbox, are always open!

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