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!