HNW - Mexican crewelwork cleaning question

Carol Thomas scbooks at
Mon Jan 1 18:56:04 PST 2001

Before you try washing, two suggestions from a fabric conservation class I
took at a museum:

1. Wet a set of Q-tips with water & Orvus, and rub each color to see if it
runs, before trying to wash.

2. Second, get a yard of plastic screening and wide masking tape.  Tape the
edges of the screening.  Lay your embroidery on a clean white sheet, put
the screen over it and use a weak vacuum and vac. it front and back, moving
to new sheet each time.  The screen keeps the threads from pulling up.
You may be able to get a lot of the crud out that way.

If you do wash it, take it out of the soap fast, rinse fast, and dry
between clean towels (blotting).  Some colors that can take water for a
minute will start to run in the next minute.  The conservationist showed us
an old sampler that had started to run when she answered the phone and got
distracted.  (She owned it.)

For stains, try soaking just the stained area in a Biz solution.  (More Biz
is NOT better than a weaker solution.)

The class was at the Textile Museum in Washington, and I got to see not
only the Ottoman Embroidery exhibit, but a lot of antique embroideries
brought in for the teacher to advise on.

At 05:08 PM 01/01/2001 EST, you wrote:
>Hello, all -- 
>This is not really a question about ancient needlework, but about newer 
>needlework from Mexico -- hope someone might be able to help me.  At a flea 
>market here in Southern California recently, I bought a framed piece of 
>Mexican crewelwork for a couple of dollars.  I took it out of the cheap
>immediately -- someone had glued it onto a piece of cardboard, and it was 
>being held into a plywood frame with some metal nails, which had made rust 
>marks on the edges of the material.  The material itself appears to be some 
>kind of natural-colored linen.  The yarn colors are very bright: pinks, 
>purples, yellows, turquoise and greens, along with black.  The piece is 
>somewhat dirty from exposure in a glassless frame (who knows how long it was 
>on display at outdoor flea markets in the polluted air of L.A.?) and of 
>course there are those rust marks on the edges, not to mention the cardboard 
>that has still stuck to it on the edges of the back side.  I'd like to wash 
>it, but I'm afraid the bright yarn colors will run.  Any advice on what I 
>should try?  One local crafts store recommended Woolite, but since I never 
>use that on my OWN needlework I wouldn't want to try it here (although -- 
>this does appear to be wool yarn...).  I do have Orvus -- do you think a
>in cold water and Orvus would make it run?  And is there any way to get rid 
>of rust stains and glue/cardboard residue?  I think that, cleaned up and
in a 
>good frame and mat, this piece would be very pretty!
>Thanks!  :-) Rowana 


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Last updated:  Nov. 2000
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