Heritage, Summer 2005 Page: 22
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Skills, Care Needed for Lace and Linen Items
By Cheryl Carrabba
My family has dozens of yellowing
lace and linen items. What is the
safest way to clean them? Can I use
As with all artifacts and things historical,
it is important to determine the
value of the piece before undertaking
any repairs or cleaning oneself. Should
you permanently change an irreplaceable
item or alter an historic artifact,
there is no going back. A professional
conservator should be consulted
where value or historical importance is
Most fine vintage and antique linens
have served as functional objects such
as tablecloths, quilts, household
linens, napkins, towels, and crocheted
doilies. Exceptional workmanship can
be found in adornments and fashion
accessories such as collars, bonnets,
and dresses used for special occasions
such as christenings and weddings.
These have been treasured for their
artistic, technical, cultural, or sentimental
value and are frequently
embellished with attachments such as
pearls or beads.
This use, compounded by environmental
factors, affects an object's condition
and often results in the need for
special care. Decisions on the handling,
display, and storage of any item
comprised of sensitive organic materials
can make the difference between a
short life span and survival for generations.
It is not surprising that these items
have survived; the fibers of white linen
thread are often of the finest quality.
Dyed linen threads have been known
to survive with their colors intact over
many decades of use. Threads that are
unraveled and frayed have more to do
with mistakes in execution or insect
and animal intrusion than thread decay
and deterioration. The predominant
problem with these superb items is
yellowing and localized staining due
to use and storage. Localized stains,
such as blood or ballpoint pen ink,
present problems in removal. As in all
things organic, ultra violet light fades
Once it is determined that a professional
conservator is not needed,
some common sense coupled with
careful cleaning can be carried out at
home. To remove subtle yellowing
and stains, it is preferable to soak in
a non-ionic liquid cleaning agent
used in distilled water. It is advisable to
use a clear liquid cleaner and stay
away from strong detergents, espe
H E R I TAGE SUMMER 2005
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2005, periodical, Summer 2005; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45369/m1/22/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.