Sunday, June 5, 2016
I found this quilt a couple years ago at a vintage shop in Portland. It's condition was very good, except for a few stains. This week, I was looking at the quilt again, and decided it was time to treat the stains.
If you look carefully in the full view photo, you can see one of the stains at the bottom, toward the center. Not a huge problem, but treating it would eliminate the distraction and help showcase the quilt's remarkable condition.
The idea was to gradually lighten the stains by applying a solution of sodium perborate and water repeatedly with a Q-Tip, letting it sit for a while, then blotting it out with clean water.
Sodium perborate is available as a granular powder. When added to water, it is a bleaching agent. Sometimes it is used to whiten antique textiles, but at one time it was also used to whiten teeth. If you're looking for the product, or advice about how to use it, just google it!
Clean, white washcloths were helpful for absorbing excess moisture and blotting. I wanted to prevent the solution from coming into contact with any of the colors. Two of those colors, the orange and green, showed signs of instability, so a full wet wash was out of the question.
Over the course of a few days, I applied the solution to the stains and they gradually faded to the point of being barely visible. I didn't want to go too fast or too far, and would recommend the same prudent approach to others.
It's important to have some idea of when it's possible to clean a quilt, when it is not, and what cleaning methods are feasible. I realized it was not possible to wet wash this quilt without a lot of risk, so I did the cleaning in a very cautious, controlled way. I'm very happy with how it turned out. Even though the quilt was already very good, now it's great.