Crafting for the ages

MAY 11, 2008

When I was in college I worked in a vintage clothing shop.  I loved to work my shifts surrounded by gorgeous old dresses, hand-embroidered textiles, and collectible bric-a-brac.  I would sometimes imagine who might have worn a particularly lovely frock, whose hands might have made all those tiny stitches bordering a linen tablecloth, and how all these things survived more or less intact and ended up there.

I have three daughters and have sewed many things for all three of them–baby blankets, bibs, stuffed toys, bed quilts, dresses.  Now I’m on the other end of things.  I enjoy imagining my girls treasuring these things mama made for them when they’re grown up and I’m gone.  I like to think that, while not expertly put together, they’re at least sturdy enough to hold up for their lifetimes, sturdy enough that they might pull them out one day to show them to their own kids.  (Well, except for the bibs which see some pretty heavy, yucky use.)

If this is part of why you sew, you’ll want to read this pdf article on how various fusible and adhesive sewing products hold up over time.  It’s a technical article and I’m sorry about the formating, but it’s well worth getting through if you use fusible web, fusible batting, quilt basting spray and the like in your sewing projects.  If you’re like me and you’d like your quilts and embroideries to hold up through a generation or two for your grandkids to ogle, then it looks like our options are limited.  I guess sometimes the old ways of hand-basting and flannel reinforcement are best.   And here’s to hoping that our beautiful works don’t end up in a random shop someday, presided over by a clueless college girl!

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  • Good question, Shelley, because you’re right that laundering wasn’t mentioned as one of their ageing steps. I remember a line about how adhesives can’t simply disappear, but you’d think that washing might take care of that. If it were water soluble adhesive–or detergent soluble–then surely it would disappear? Perhaps art quilters whose construction techniques render their works too fragile to wash are the ones who should worry most.

  • I use spray adhesive during the formation of my quilt sandwich. It’s the easiest method I have found, for me, for quilting with my domestic home machine.
    I found it interesting that the testing did not include laundering of the quilts. Laundering is the very last step in my quilting-making process … I want to be sure that all the dirt, etc accumulated during the creation process is gone but also to ensure that all of my stitching stays intact!
    Since the spray adhesives state that they “go away” when laundered, I wonder what the report would have concluded if one of the steps had been to launder one of the test quilts in each group.