Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vintage Textile Treasure Hunt - Now is the Time

Now is the Time

Every spring these types of signs appear on nearly every street corner and shopping center bulletin board.

Clearly most people have taken the concept of spring cleaning to heart and have accumulated boxes of unwanted goods.  These items they sell and with the monies they collect people then flock to other sales to purchase bargains to refill their cupboards and closets and garages.  Sort of an endless cycle, I guess.

If, however, you are a collector of vintage textiles, these signs are treasure maps indicating where one might find treasures, indeed. From the “so ugly, it’s actually pretty neat” to lovely linens and handcrafted laces and fabrics, one man’s trash can become your treasure.

In April I wrote about protecting your textile collection with proper cleaning and storage.  Today I wish to discuss Protecting Yourself.  This may sound a bit strange at first but vintage textiles that have lived a long life outside the clean conditions of shops and museums can harbor all sorts of unpleasant problems.

Consider the possible conditions of barn and cellar storage, of storing used and soiled textiles together with whatever else is in that old trunk. A good friend actually found a great quilt beside a dumpster.  But do not let this deter you from your hunt!!!  Just take a few easy precautions and all will be well.
When you bring home your great find, if it is larger than a handkerchief, try to examine your box, trunk or large plastic bag of goodies outside, or at least in the garage.  Please do not empty everything onto your dining room table or bed for sorting. 

Tyvek coverall s suits
Nov., 2011
Jarek Tusznski

This may be overkill.  What you may want to have on hand are plastic gloves (the thin kind worn by the servers in the bakery or deli and can be purchased in a kitchen supply store or a drug store.)  You can use these to examine even the most soiled fabrics and then can be tossed.  If you have any allergic or pulmonary conditions you will want to wear a protective mask that is available in every hardware store or big box store.  Lint fibers are easily airborne and you don’t want to be inhaling them, especially if you are fortunate enough to have many textiles to sort and clean.  Remember, even small textile scraps can be cleaned and used in numerous ways as appliqu├ęs or patches for a tote bag, or stripped for a hand made rug or mat.  So after careful airing and cleaning you will have other additions for your collection.  Never add an additional textile to your stored collections until you have carefully examined and possibly cleaned it, one small insect can contaminate your other fabrics.

So gather your local newspaper, your GPS and your wallet and seek out those bargains!!!

And good luck!!!

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