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Topic: Caring for antique lace?  (Read 468 times)
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Bookaholic
« on: November 04, 2008 10:39:38 AM »

I recently inherited some extremely old crocheted lace from my grandmother. I think the fiber used was cotton. It's gotten discolored by age, and obviously throwing it in the washing machine isn't the answer. What should I do?
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2008 07:55:46 PM »

Odds are it is cotton thread. If it was white, I would fill up the kitchen sink with luke warm water, add a cap full of bleach and let it soak for a little while, rinse it with luke warm water and hang dry.

The bleach should hopefully bring the white out of it, and there after i would replace cleaning it with dish soap instead of bleach.

BTW I would try this with just one to make sure it doesn't react poorly. If it's 100% cotton tho it should be fine.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2008 07:57:40 PM by DesignVigilante » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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bjrjames
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2008 04:28:09 AM »

I would use something like Oxyclean rather than bleach.  Soak for a while, you can soak for longer in Oxyclean than bleach.  As fragile as these things may be, bleach may make the fibers deteriorate.  Use dish soap, the kind for hand washing dishes, just a little with the Oxyclean with luke warm water.  Soak them in a glass bowl or stainless steel or a clean sink, not plastic, which may have some residual oils on it. Gently squeeze them out, don't wring the water out of them.   If soaking the first time doesn't get them white, soak them a second time.  If that doesn't do it, lay them out on a sheet on the grass in direct sunlight for a few hours.  Sunlight should help to lighten them and take out any leftover stains on them.  You could also try lemon juice directly on the stain, then another Oxyclean soak.     

I would suggest, too, that after you have them as white as they are going to get that you use acid free background paper and matting and frame them to use as art work.  I'm sure they are beautiful and that you will want to preserve them for a long time.  While someone in the family still remembers, have them write up what they remember of your grandmother so that it can be kept with the lace.  (Name, date and place of birth, where she grew up, interesting stories they know about her.  Her marriage, children, etc.)   That way, your children and grandchildren will have a greater appreciation for the items than if they just had the lace by itself.  You really have inherited a treasure and I hope you enjoy it for a long time.
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