HNW - Old/Antique needlework

Wed Jun 30 22:29:15 PDT 1999

I've been following the conversation about this with some joy (Ok -
Kathryn's Lacis piece) and also the note on bleaching needlework.

I can speak from experience here - I have inherited my Grandmother's
needlework (both finished and unfinished) and a lot of it is pre WWII, and
pre 1966, and some of my mother's unfinished pre 1960 pieces (she says that
she cannot see well enough to do embroidery to her standard now, so will
leave it for me to do).

The linen that this was worked on (both on pre-printed stuff and the bought
stuff) is (at least in Australia) very heavy and really hard wearing.  

I recently had my mother to visit and we went thru it all and it is all
quite stained (from being stored badly at my Aunt's farm).  I asked her what
to use to clean it, and she recommended using Nappy Wash (Nappi San if you
have it, or any other Nappy cleaning agent) and just soaking it in that
overnight and then washing it in the machine, then hang it in the sun to dry
and iron when just damp.

That's what she's been doing with her stuff, and how Grandma washed hers for
the last 50 or so years and they are all still in excellent condition - the
only problems are from normal wear (and where mum said that she made a
mistake and forgot to finish of her thread and it's unravelled - 35 years

This method of washing works equally well for embroidered pieces, as well as
tatting, and crochet.  She does say to wash crochet and tatting in a
lingerie bag (or a small bag made of net).

(I'm rambling here, so stop reading if you want)

One other tip she gave me that I didn't know:  some very old crochet and
tatted doileys are really full, with a flat bit inside, and the outside is
very full and will not sit flat in a circle (oval etc).  Apparently these
were designed to be starched within an inch of their lives before display
(like crochet baskets), but so that all the "frill" stits up -not
vertically, but in "humps" like a mountain range, with the central valley in
the middle.  She said that the best way to do this, and for starching any
linen at all, is to use washing starch, which you add to the wash water.  

She also said that it is best to wash needleworked small pieces using
washing soda in the water, rather than ordinary washing detergent (omo, Bio
Zet, Cold Power - you know the sort of thing).  

Sorry for rambling, but I am a firm believer in display of my needlework -
and (in fact) any needlework I have.  That's what is was done for - and if
people can't see it, they can't appreciate it!

Megan McConnell
Collections Officer
GPO Box 1453, Brisbane  Q  4001
ph (07) 3362 1361   Fax (07) 3362 3332
E-Mail:  megan.mcconnell at

- ------------------------------------------------------------

The contents of this message are the views of the Author and
do not necessarily reflect the views of SUNCORP METWAY LTD.

Go to to perform mailing list tasks.

More information about the H-needlework mailing list