The old red drapes ripped when I pulled them out of the washing machine. Fuzzy red clumps of disintegrating fabric fell to the floor.
Bud came running in to make sure it wasn’t something good to eat.
Working with vintage fabric has its ups and downs. Sometimes someone will give me a great piece of old fabric that stands up in the wash, has few, if any, stains on it and smells good too.
Then there are the ones that not only fall apart in the washer, but make a mess at the same time. Strangely, these red drapes didn’t smell bad until after I washed them.
Most vintage fabric falls somewhere in-between. The washing machine is a good test.
And, of course, it depends on just how “vintage” the fabric is. The best information I could find is that any fabric over 30 years old is considered vintage. I personally tend to think of vintage fabric being from the 1970’s or earlier. I guess it’s somewhat relative.
I have a few quilts that look to me, like they’re from the 1920’s. I can’t use them in most of my work because they would fall apart if I washed them. I might be able to use a part of them in a wallhanging, but I know I’ll never find a use of each of them. Still, they sit up in the attic in a plastic bag, because I can’t get myself to throw them away. They’re just too interesting to toss.
But, I found it easy to pull the red drapes from the washer directly into a garbage bag.
Maybe if the drapes were really spectacular. If they had atomic images on them from the 1950’s or cats from the 1960’s, I might have cut them apart and worked what magic I could on them to try to get the smell out.
But by the time I pulled the drapes out of the washer and cleaned up the mess, they were just old and smelly to me.
Still I’m willing to take just about any fabric anyone offers me and see if it holds up to my standards. Because I hate the idea of throwing away something that can be used and I get some really unique fabric that way.
For me, it’s worth the fuzzy red washing machine, or extra trip to the dump, every once in a while.