Posted by Tracey M. Kramer on September 14, 2016
Keeping your needlework clean while working on it is half the battle. The best thing to do is to try to not get it dirty in the first place. The more you go out of your way to keep it clean, the less cleaning you will have to do when it’s finished. One way you can assure your work is staying clean is to first make sure your hands are clean. Oils from your hands can cause unsightly stains on your fabric and will become visible the more you work on your project. Also, sweat from your fingers contains acid that can over time weaken your thread and fabric, so it is always best to work with clean hands. For those of you who like to snack while you stitch, woe be unto you because you’re headed for trouble. Soon your work will become stained and will take on the odors of the snacks you’ve eaten, and you will have a heck of a time trying to explain to others why that large pepperoni stain is smack dab in the center of your finished project and it smells like grease! Rule of thumb, don’t eat while stitching! If you get hungry, take a break, eat, wash your hands, and then go back to stitching.
To take this a step further on grime
prevention, certain needlework website stores like Maggies
Minders carry covers (i.e. Grime Guards) that fit over your
scroll rods and Q-snap frames to keep dust and filth free.
covers not only keep your project clean, but they keep
your work snag free. If your frame is an unconventional
size, Maggies Minders is able to solve the problem with making
custom covers to fit your frame whatever the size, and they’re
pretty reasonable price-wise too!
When you’re not working on your project and have put it away, take the time to cover it up with an old pillowcase or a sheet. I have used an old pillowcase which helps to keep the dirt and dust off, and others have used a plastic garbage bag. Plastic has the added benefit of keeping not only dirt and dust out, but it keeps liquids off your project that could soak through and ruin your work with permanent stains. It is amazing how much dust can collect in only a weeks’ time. Just take a look at your furniture by the end of the week. The same amount of dust you see on it may be building up on the surface of your project.
When you finally finish your project, don’t take the easy way out and throw it in the washing machine or send it to the dry cleaners. Too many things can go wrong during this process, even if you wash it on delicate and use Woolite. Some people have tried machine washing and say they’ve had no problems, but I would not take that chance nor would I recommend it. Washing by hand is the safest way to clean your project. If you machine wash, those threads may work loose or become snagged onto something inside your washer and may rip away months or even years of painstaking work, and is it worth it??? I think not! Be safe and hand wash your project separately in cold water using a mild dish detergent like Ivory Dish Soap. Do not use bleach or other harsh cleaners or you are setting yourself up for a bucket of tears as you watch your project disintegrate before your eyes. As you wash, use a gentle swishing around in the water alternating with a light dunking method. It is not uncommon to see your floss colors bleed a little.
When finished cleaning, rinse several times making sure to get all of the soap out. Do not wring or squeeze the project out. Next, take two towels and lay one down on a table surface. Lay the finished needlework still dripping wet onto the towel and then cover it with the second towel. Next, starting at one end, roll the project and both thicknesses of the towels into a single roll and let dry. When you think it is dry, carefully unroll and if there are creases or wrinkles, you can press them out with light heat from an iron. To do this, get two clean hand towels. Lay one on the ironing board, place the project face down on it, and cover with the 2nd towel. Place the iron on the towel on medium to low heat. Now your project should be clean and ready to be framed!