stain removal results: F and A+

stain removal results: F and A+

By Patricia Belyea

SEATTLE WA  In February 2018, I had a jet-setting moment when I flew down to the Bay Area for one day to attend Julie & Rod’s Incredible Quilt Sale. Quilt dealer Julie Silber and quilt curator Roderick Kirakofe were mounting a huge sale of quilts and quilt tops in a warehouse in Berkeley.

I knew the event would be a huge gathering of quilt enthusiasts. And it was! To manage the hoards were Joe Cunningham and his best friend Lena.

Waiting to get in, I met the indomitable Margaret Fabrizio whom I only knew by reputation. At 88, she’s a most dynamic quilter and world traveler.

After the first group at the front of the line went into the makeshift showroom, the rest of us waited. Once someone left and went to the cashiers’ desks, another person entered the sale area.

Not a big spender, I bought three vintage quilt tops for $8, $12, and $18. I thought I might use them as backs for my quilts.

A navy blue and white flimsy was my favorite. Although it was dingy with a a lot of age stains, I was sure I could brighten and whiten the background.

Once home, I bought a product that many quilters have recommended to me for age stains: Restoration.

Not even testing a corner of my quilt top, I began the prescribed process of removing the staining. When I pulled the fabric from the bucket, some of the navy blue had migrated and was now baby blue, and the white background was pale blue. The brown stains were minimized but not gone.

Was it a total failure? Yes and no. I learned that I’m not as smart as I think. And my twin sister, Pamela, used the quilt top as a tablecloth for our casual birthday dinner that summer.

Fast forward to last month: in a shipment of yukata cotton from Japan, I received a bolt of fabric that was COMPLETELY age stained. Every inch looked like it had been dunked in a vat of strong tea.

I still had the container of Restoration with lots left. So I thought I would try the product again. I followed the directions to the letter, first with a short pre-soak and then a longer soak. It worked like a miracle!

The old yukata cotton was brightened and ALL the aging stains were gone. Restoration exceeded beyond my wildest hopes. Now I know why so many people rave about the product.

I plan to sew the 14" widths of the restored fabric together to make a bigger piece as I like the drama of the graphic indigo areas. I may use the pieced fabric as a background for an Inserted Curves quilt top or as a quilt back.

There’s much to learn about stains and how to remove them. In my hands-on experiments with two sets of fabrics, the same product yielded wildly different results. When I come across aged and stained fabric in the future, I’ll need to do more research to master removing stains. And I’ll test the stain-removal product before totally committing to using it!


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14 comments


  • Patricia Belyea
    Amy—With your collection, you WOULD like Restoration. I bought the product from Amazon. My twin sister is the hostess with the mostess. She loves to decorate and set the able for family gatherings to make them special. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Cindy—That’s what everyone says! PB

  • Amy Katoh
    Loved your fascinating tale of stain removal and the two endings, using the same product, beautifully pictured. I need to find some Restoration!

    Your twin birthday dinner photo is particularly inviting, a celebration of special moments in everyday life in a natural and unposed way. Using what she had, and amping up the ceiling with real pizazz! It must have been a great evening.


  • Cindy Brouillard
    I have used this product and was amazed at how good it is at getting age grime out.

  • Patricia Belyea
    LeeAnn, I learned something about washing old flimsies with the first top. The seams go crazy. They unravel. They change sides. They are just a mess. It would take so much work to get the old stained top in shape to use as a quilt back because it’s all bumpy due to the wacky seams. PB

  • LeeAnn
    I LIKE the results of the quilt top stain removal. I think it would make a wonderful quilt back, still. Or a tablecloth. Either way, it’s interesting and is being appreciated and shown. I’ve not heard of this product. Looks like a miracle worker in some cases. Thanks!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Soozi—Interesting that you are seeing little brown spots. The Japanese call those spots “age burns”. I believe it is due to moisture in the air being absorbed by the fabric and the action of bacteria. I hope your fabric restoration goes well! PB

  • soozi
    thanks for your info. I have some old yukata and rust spots have been showing

    up where they had not previously been. ???? exposure to air? moisture in the
    air? i will try your remedy on the fabric.


  • Patricia Belyea
    Sherry—Absolutely. The quilt top from the sale had two different commercial navy fabrics. One was not colorfast. The yukata cotton, hand-dyed in Japan, had no problem with its dye or colorfastness. Every dye and process will yield different results, as evidenced by my experience. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thanks Janet. I know that there are a lot of folks with much more experience with stains and bleeding than me! PB

  • Janet C. Wright
    Check out colorwaysbyvicky.com Vicky Welsh has a tutorial about the research she did on Bleeding fabrics. It is very good.

  • Sherry Massey
    Could the drastically different results between the two blues be the difference in the quality of the dyes? Just curious.

  • Mary Jo
    Thanks for this article! Love the blue and and white peony? fabric!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Mary Jo—So do I. It’s very old. And I believe the flower is a rose. PB

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