A few tips on how to get the most out of your fibre arts experience:
* Make sure your hands are very clean before you begin any needlework. Skin oils and dirt not easily
seen by the naked eye transfer themselves to your work, sometimes staining it beyond repair. Consider wearing fine cotton
gloves while you sew to prevent soiling your work.
* Whenever possible, to minimize creases, roll your needlework instead of folding it. Folds are hard
on fabrics, and are one of the first places a fabric will deteriorate when in storage.
* Keep good records of your threads and patterns. Compile a project kit, with the coloured threads needed
accurately documented, and the pattern properly marked to make it easy to follow. A few moments to take clear notes will serve
you well when you leave a project for a few days to a few months, making it easier to pick up where you left off.
* Pattern errors. If your knitting or crochet pattern is not working out despite your faithful
following of instructions, check the publisher or designers website for corrections. Errors that slipped by during printing
are often corrected at these online resources, which you can print out for free.
* Child and pet safety. When possible, have an area to work that can be shut off to young children and
pets. Nothing can spoil a sewing session faster than having a baby get a needle stuck in their foot or hand. The same goes
for when your cat chooses to snack on a piece of dropped thread which still has the needle attached. Keep needles, pins, scissors,
adhesives and other dangerous items locked away in a sewing box when not in immediate use. Where possible, a workroom
where all the small bits that go with fibre arts can be safely stashed greatly adds to your peace of mind. A trip to the emergency
room can so eat into precious sewing time!
* Keep fabrics out of direct sunlight. Both incomplete and finished projects benefit from being sheltered
from the harsh rays of the sun, which can quickly fade colours and weaken threads.
* Should you prick your finger while sewing and get blood on your handiwork, two quick options can help
prevent the blood from setting. Spitting on the blood will mean the enzymes from your saliva will break down the
proteins in the blood, giving you a longer time to wash it more thoroughly. Or, dab a small amount of three per cent hydrogen
peroxide on the stain. Rinse it with clear water and then launder as usual.
* Use the right tools for the job. This saves time, effort and helps ensure a quality finished product.
And when investing in a quality set of scissors for sewing, keep them for that purpose alone. Using them on paper or materials
other than fabric can quickly dull the blades.
* Prewash your material before sewing. This removes the coating of sizing which makes new fabric stiff,
removes excess dye and pre-shrinks the material. Putting your yardage through a couple of trips through the washing
machine will save a lot of unpleasant surprises after you have completed your project!
* Possible substitutions
Knitters wanting a fair substitute for the newly discontinued White Buffalo yarn may want to consider the Country Roving
product offered by Briggs and Little. This is a five-ply unspun pencil roving in a nice variety of colours.
A lot of materials and tools you use in one form of needlework can be transfered to other techniques. There are the basics,
like needles and scissors, yes, but have you thought of using your sewing machine for scrapbooking, and your yarns and threads
in a different setting. Crochet thread can be great for embroidery, and yarn can fit into almost any needlework craft you
might think of. Your imagination is your only limit!
Common objects that are also useful in your needlework bag
Coloured paper clips make great stitch markers for crochet work as they need to be removable.
Used drier sheets are great for stablizers for embroidery.
Zipper plastic bags help keep work clean and small parts together.
A small, hotel-sized bar of soap is useful for running your sewing needles over. This provides a coating that
makes it easier to slide the needle through fabric. Any soap left behind by the passing needle easily washes away when you
wash the finished work.
Film cannisters are the right size to store small amounts of beads, sequins, pins, stitch markers, etc. in your
Another use for embroidery hoops -- Do you have a few unused large embroidery hoops laying around? They
can make filling plastic bags easier while awaiting their next sewing mission. Simply catch the edge of a plastic shopping
bag between the two circles to form a large opening while you fill the bag. I've found this so handy for the bag next to the
sewing machine where I toss my thread ends and fabric trimmings. One of my largest, quilting hoops is helping me in the
garden with lawn bags, making scooping up leaves and other debris a snap.
Preserving textiles after a disaster
House fires are devestating on many levels, especially with the loss of treasured textiles. Here are some tips from Heritage Preservation
to help you recover fabric items after a fire should you ever face this situation.
Cherished heirlooms that survive a fire are often covered with soot and ash, requiring prompt and gentle attention to
avoid further damage. The following tips for cleaning soot and ash are based on the experience of respected conservation
professionals who care for our nation's treasures in museums and libraries.
* Safety first! Avoid skin or lung irritation.
Wear plastic or rubber gloves, an N95 mask, and goggles during cleanup.
* Get started promptly. The longer soot or
ash sits on a surface, the more damage it does.
* Handle objects as little as possible. If you must move them, use
a tray or hanger, and grasp them in places that are normally hidden from view.
* Resist the urge to wipe soot and
ash-covered surfaces with a clean cloth; wiping will embed the soot and ash in the object and make it much more difficult
* Remove soot and ash with a vacuum on the lowest setting. Do not let the nozzle touch the object and
do not use a brush attachment; let the wand float over the surface.
* After vacuuming, you may need to clean the object
with a soot sponge, which can be purchased at major hardware stores. Unlike other sponges, these are used dry. Lay the sponge
on the surface, press gently, and lift without rubbing. Cut off sections as they become dirty.
* If soot and ash are
wet - from fire hose water or a burst pipe - don't do anything to remove the objects from wet surfaces. Attempting to remove
them will cause further damage. Get advice from a professional.
* Do not rinse sooty or ash-covered treasures.
When cleaning textiles, do not unfold them - this will only disperse the soot.
* Call in a pro. If a valuable family
treasure is badly damaged, a professional conservator may be able to help.