Monday, March 1, 2021

Remove Stains From Quilt Blocks ~ A Piece of Cake!

 Hello Quilting Friends!  Yes, removing stains from quilt blocks is a piece of cake.  Almost weekly in the quilting social media world I see a quilter who is at their wits end trying to remove a stain from a quilt.  Quilters being kind and generous people for the most part offer up their best advice.  More often than not the advice requires a deep pocket...$$$$.  Well I'm here to tell you specialty products aren't always the best.  Ever heard of Occam's Razor?  In laymen's terms it means the simplest solution is usually the best solution.


Marketing experts do an amazing job convincing us of our need for their products.  Not just in the quilting field but in every field of our purchasing. 

But today we're going to focus on products for stains on quilts.  In the past I've used 3 different products claiming to safely and effectively remove stains from my quilts.  Stains like yellowing, blood, grease and bleeding dyes.  All have failed me in one way or another.  They either didn't work or worked so well they ruined my fabric.   All were expensive. 

 I'm not mentioning brands because it's political.  I don't want to ruffle any feathers, you understand, right?  Do what you like, spend what you want.  I'm here to tell you what has worked better for me and is cheap.  It all boils down money and effectiveness.  If I can get the same or better results at less cost it makes sense.  Why pay $500 for a hammer when Lowe's sells the same hammer for $25?  I'm sure most of you remember this being uncovered in our government back in the 80's.  But lets not go down the slippery slope of politics.  

In a previous post (HERE)  I shared my yellowed UFO blocks and the start of a test for removing the yellowing.  Well it worked and for just pennies. No bleeding or fading of the fabrics.  In the image below you can see the test block on top is whiter than the one on the bottom.  

This method of cleaning them was an idea from Kelly Kline on live Facebook video.  Kelly specializes in quilting vintage quilt tops and linens.  In the video she had some discolored vintage linens soaking in ammonia to remove mold.  The finished product was much whiter.  She then laid them out in the sun to dry and bleach them out even more. The old wives tale of this whitening fabrics must be true because Kelly does it all the time with great success.  I was willing to go that far to fix these blocks but luckily I only needed to do the first part of soaking the blocks.


So it was time to soak all the blocks in a 7 to 1 mixture.  That's 7 parts hot water to 1 part ammonia.  Then I added 1 tsp on Dawn blue dish soap.  Dawn was my idea.  Both of these smell horrid.  I think Dawn dish soap smells like a sour dish cloth but I keep it on hand for tough jobs like stain removal from clothing.  It works better than any stain removing laundry product I've used in the past.  Just a little dab and a little elbow grease and like magic stains are gone.

Anyway back to my blocks.  The magical stain removing mixture was mixed up in a Rubbermaid container.  Then I folded each block in half, layering them in individually.  Gave them a little squishing action.  By squishing I mean pushing the blocks down into the mixture, pushing them from side to side just enough to make sure the mixture was touching every part of all the blocks.  Being aggressive with the squishing would cause fraying so I was very gentle.  The blocks were left to soak overnight.  

The next day I was shocked by the results.  Look at the water!  Sure the Lemon scented ammonia made a slight yellow tint to the water but this is brown....EWW.


The yukky water was poured off and the rinsing process began.


Here I've removed them from the plastic container and added about two inches of water.  Gave them a very gentle squish up and down in the water.  Then I drained the tub and repeated the process 2 more times.


To neutralize and remove smell of the ammonia I added some white vinegar to the 3rd tub of water.  How much?  I just dumped it in, maybe 2 cups of white vinegar.  And again with the light squish to make sure the vinegar had saturated every fiber.  The tub was emptied and filled again to remove the vinegar.  Of course there was more squishing.


When the water had drained from the tub the blocks were rolled up and squished several times. Then I carefully unrolled them.


One at a time they were removed.  I would hold them up for just a little bit to allow some of the water to drip out.


The blocks were gently placed in a stack on top of two old towels that had been folded in half separately.  Another folded towel was placed on top.  Then I rolled them into a jelly roll, leaving one towel unrolled.  It was just there to help absorb any excess water.  Once rolled it was time for another gentle squish to help remove the water.  Excessive squish/squeeze will cause excessive wrinkles so be careful.  The jelly roll was left to work it's magic while I cooked super. 


About 2 hours later I transferred the jelly roll into the Studio.  My pretty blocks look as good as new but they need to hang to dry.  If I were to iron these right now with them wet it would shrink the blocks. And if I were to toss them in the dryer....oh what a mess that would be.


Thankfully quilt frame makes a great clothesline.  They should be dry by morning.


By the way here was very little fraying, if any.


A few days later I finally took the blocks of the makeshift clothesline and gave them a press with no steam.  They are as good as new and it was as easy as pie.  


And the best thing, it was cheaper than water pie!  Water Pie?  Yes ma'am there is a water pie recipe from the depression error.  It might be recipe we need to keep on hand.  I found this awhile back when looking for a recipe of some sort.  Check it out, Water Pie, Paula Deen approved.  It was her first time making the pie suggested by one of her followers.


(in my best Paula Deen southern accent) ......

Thanks Y'all for stoppin' by my little ole spot in Podunk!  HA!HA!HA!  



























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4 comments:

LJ said...

What a great idea. Will give this a try one of these days. I've used cheap powdered dishwashing detergent before for old, yellowed vintage items. Your recipe would be even cheaper. Thanks.

Pam said...

Love this. I use ammonia in most of my laundry. It gets smells out as well!! And I use white vinegar instead of softener. Finish with wool dryer balls and essential oils.

Katy Sweigart said...

Wow! Thanks so much for posting this! It is great info. I’ve never used ammonia, but will definitely try it now.

Rose Marie said...

A great post .... and your blocks look wonderful!

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