Upholstery Repair—Needlepoint Stool Cover

My friend Gay’s mom owns an upholstery shop in Tennessee. They had received a lovely Victorian needlepoint-topped stool that was in disrepair, and needed help restoring it to its original condition. Gay’s mom removed the needlepoint and sent to me.

 

There were holes in the canvas, plus tears in it that affected both canvas and yarn stitches, which you can view if you click on the photos above. Critters had nipped at the wool yarn and removed either all or part of the stitches. Plus, the piece was dirty and needed a cleaning. This is an all-wool work, and thus had to go into the freezer for a de-bugging before anything else was done. Next came washing and blocking (done face-down, which keeps the stitching uniform):

 

washed and blocked another angle    washed and blocked upside down

I also stitched a fine netting material around the piece, which makes it easier to pull it for blocking, and also keeps the edges from raveling. Thanks, Bid! She’s my friend and fellow needlework repairer who also designs canvases. We share lots of great tips. See my blocking table? That was also a tip from her. It’s a hollow core door from Home Depot, with a checkered oilcloth stapled onto it. That makes it easy to line up fabric.

Step 3 in this repair job was to begin stitching up the canvas tears. I had some good black tapesty wool for the job, and used some sturdy upholstery thread to reweave the canvas. Here are some photos of that work:

Once the canvas was stabilized again, I could start the actual stitch repair:

For large size canvases, you may wish to purchase a pair of canvas pliers.  The large grooved teeth are great for gripping canvas and stretching.  These are available at art supply stores.

View albumView albumView albumView albumView album

 

View albumView albumView albumView albumView album

Plus there were other little repairs to single stitches here and there.

And here are the photos of the finished piece:

And here is the finished stool. Didn’t the upholstery shop do a great job?

finished stool--Nelms Upholstery

Pleased to Repair Another Crocheted Bedspread

Fran B had a dilemma on her hands with her cotton crocheted bedspread. I think I first heard from her by phone when she told me that her bedspread had gotten stained and her “fix” had not worked. Well, the trouble was, she’d tried painting over the stain with white acrylic paint. Oddly enough, I’d heard of a needlework piece that’d had a similar fate to Fran’s just a few weeks earlier when another customer had phoned from NY to say her mother had crocheted a large Lord’s prayer and given it to a church. It’d gotten dirty, and someone had painted it white to try to get the clean look back. Hm. Paint is hard, hard, hard to get off once it’s on fabric. Doesn’t make for a good reversal, and it’s always a plus if whatever you do to a piece of needlework can be taken back out.

This repair took quite a while to complete. First it went to the textile cleaner, but we still had issues. Though she got most of the spread snowy white, she had to hand clean the rather large paint stain, and as she tried to get the paint out, she spread it and it turned from a white paint stain to a set-in yellowish color. Yikes! Fran had her send the spread back to me to see if I could remove the affected area, as it was extra long and we could still get it to fit her bed.

I began this repair while at the beach on a trip to Florida to help a friend work on her rental condo. My work goes on most getaways with me, as I always seem to be working! I am blessed to be able to do any sort of needlework in the car while my husband drives, and there is *nothing* better for a stitcher than a long trip on which to sew in wonderful daylight!

I don’t have photos of the paint still on the squares, but I do have photos of areas that still had spots on them after the textile cleaner sent it back to me. I suspect that she stopped working on smaller spots once she couldn’t get the paint out. These stains were the “rusty” types that are often found on vintage textiles:

Fran bedspread rusty stain

First job was to remove any square that had any sort of stain. This photo shows the removal of just the painted area taken out:

Fran bedspread center removed

Next, I took other pieces out around the open area, then filled in the missing squares with clean ones, thus shortening the bedspread:

Fran bedspread pieces to be stitched inFran bedspread pinned pieces

These replaced squares were whip-stitched into place:

Fran bedspread new sewing    IMG_0268

Once the bedspread was whole again, it looked very good. Sorry, this is a dark photo:

IMG_0271

But…the tassels were all twisted up on each other, so I needed to untwist them:

This is a task that seems easy and fast, but it’s actually extremely time-consuming. Plus, I ended up untwisting these tassels—there must’ve been 200 on this luxuriously-endowed spread—more than once because I kept tackling a few tiny stains, trying to get it perfect, which meant wetting down different areas in order to get the stain remover out of the thread. That would lead to moving the piece around, and tassels bunched up again. Anyway, the photos below show my straightening job finished. However, the bottom right photo shows the fringe *before* I sprayed it with water and smoothed it. Water smoothing really makes it look great:

And here I am, untwisting and untwisting! I also snipped off very tiny tips of the fringe, to even it out:

IMG_0631

Once I had it all clean and bright, with no paint remaining, all stitched up and the fringe straight, I was ready to ship it back to Fran. But first, a few more close-up shots of where I’m tucking in some thread ends that were out in various areas of the spread:

And now it’s really ready to return home:

IMG_0657

My customer said:

Hi Melissa:

Attached are 2 pictures.  It looks stupendous! I am so very pleased. It was well worth the wait as all your efforts paid off. I can’t believe how tedious it must have been to straighten all those tassels. And, I couldn’t find any stains. It’s unbelievable! I know my mom is pleased too.

As you can see the spread fits the bed very well; shortening it worked fine since it has a baseboard. Your talents are very much appreciated. I will recommend you to anyone in need of such help.

And here are her pictures (with such a wonderful bed for it):

Fran's bedspread on her bed 1       Fran's bedspread on her bed 2

Needlework’s Enemies:Wool Moths and Carpet Beetles

Lately I’ve been about ready to scream over certain pests in my craft room, and I’m not talking about my dogs, who enjoy roaming in and rifling through my trash can to pilfer whatever, or get into my poly fiberfill, plucking it from its bag like so much cotton candy. I’m talking about those tiniest of pests, wool-eating moths and carpet beetles:

(Below, l to r: Carpet Beetles & larvae, Wool Moths and larvae and eggs)

carpet beetle and larvae                            moth egg pupa adult

It doesn’t matter *how* many times I fix a hole, re-stitch, or tuck in a seam, if I have a moth or beetle problem, and I don’t get that fixed, it’s a problem. For one, it means more hours of work. But I don’t want to send anything out of my craft area that may be infested with something, either.

And how did these bugs get there in the first place? It’s hard to say, since I stockpile natural fibers to use in my repair work.

wool threads

I’m always adding both new and vintage yarns and threads. And the repairs themselves may come in with pests in them that we don’t know about. After all, they’re coming to me due to holes or tears, rips or loose threads, etc,… That could spell “moth trouble” and such.

But why would anything stick around here, when we’re on a routine pest control by a reputable bug service? Well, because they’re resistant to a lot of the commercial sprays that get bigger bugs. And they hide. And sprays are not the be-all, end-all answer.

The thing about wool moths and carpet beetles is, first of all you may not even know if you really have them because they’re so small. AND they only like to be out at night (little vampires, sucking on my wool in the dark!) So how do you know if you’re a victim? Check your sweaters or your wool needlework, or (in the case of the beetles) your oriental rugs or wool carpeting. See any holes or missing threads? Then you’ve probably got an issue. Some recommend putting out moth traps, which look like regular fly traps. Hang them in a “suspect” room and see what you catch. You may be amazed.

Do you own pets? Then you’re more likely to have wool moths or carpet beetles. They like to munch on organic substances like pet hair, too.

pets

Do you vacuum regularly? That helps keep the population down.

Another reason they’re hard to get rid of is, there are 3 stages of the pests: 1) egg, 2) pupae or larvae, 3) adult. You may not see them at various stages. I recently saw a carpet beetle. Couldn’t tell with the naked eye if it was actually a beetle, but it was tiny and it was moving, and I looked up “beetle that eats wool” since it was near a repair project, and yep, I *hadn’t been* crazy, something HAD been taking out more of the wools on the project even as I worked on repairing it. GRR!!

So much for learning about them. I *have* them. So now that I know that, how do I get rid of them. I began Googling furiously, hoping for a quick fix for a big problem. I’d already been worried about getting any type of pest in my craft room, since I regularly take in other people’s projects + own a lot of vintage yarns + am always bringing in more fibers, and especially tasty wools. Recently, I’d even purchased a big Ziploc bag full of wonderful, fragrant dried lavender blooms, which I’d made into little sachets and placed on and around anything with wool or silk in it. But the professional response to this homeopathic moth/beetle repeller was shot down by just about everyone. Same with cedar. Sigh. At best, most experts said, these easy-to-find, natural fixes won’t work on really hungry pests, they’ll only deter a few of their friends.

Best advice was to wash the items in hot water, then seal them in something with really good seals like a Rubbermaid tub. Next, vacuum the room regularly (to get rid of any eggs or pupae around) and then use the moth paper or a fly paper with wool or hair stuck to it for attracting beetles and see if you’d gotten everything. They said to repeat this process every so often, since eggs can hatch and the cycle start all over again.

Ugh!

This is not great news. I cannot wash most vintage and antique pieces because the dyes will run. I can’t risk that.

Finally, after much research, including reading many customer reviews on the usefulness of any of the specific control products out there, I sent the hubby to Home Depot for a simple Raid fogger product that kills household pests, leaves no residue, and specifically states on its label it kills black carpet beetles and moths.

Raid Concentrated Deep Reach Fogger, 4 ct

We followed label directions and fogged, then waited 4 hours. Then we aired out the room. We’ll repeat this two more times, or whatever I go back and review online, I forget the specs, but we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure nothing else comes back.

 

 

Addendum: got a small freezer and am doing the freezing process. Do it for 72 hours in polyethylene bags, remove, thaw, repeat a few times. This is supposed to really knock out the pests for good. And from now on, EVERY repair project that comes into my shop will be freezer-processed before I begin work on it.

 

Oops! Bedspread Returns for More Repairs

Well, I’m dreadfully embarrassed to say that one of my repair projects came back to me. My customer, Kay, was very understanding, though, and I do appreciate it. Kay’s crocheted bedspread had so much handwork in it that it is easy to see why areas would come loose and need work. After six or seven hours’ worth of putting things back together, however, I do believe that several other areas literally “came out in the wash.” My textile cleaner June does a great job, but though the spread was nice and white and looked great after its bath, it sure had many places that needed to be re-stitched. The spread is, however, so beautiful, and Kay says that her mother worked on it while pregnant with her. What a great piece to own! I know she sure is glad to have it all nice now. Here are more areas I worked on lately. The rest of this story is in an earlier post:

And here are a few more action shots of the bedspread repair. Kay marked spots with her safety pins, but I found a bunch more and marked them for her with orange thread that she can snip off once she receives the bedspread. Thanks for your patience and understanding, Kay!

Pineapple Crochet Project: a Tablecloth

Gayle K, a repeat customer, had a beautifully-worked round tablecloth in the familiar pineapple pattern. This pattern is really a lot of crochet chain, single, double and treble stitching. It’s just the sheer volume of work that makes it a long project. The pattern booklet Gayle sent with the project looked as if it came from the 1940’s. This is it in the photo to the left, I believe. I’ve already sent it back to Gayle. She also sent plenty of thread, and I used the ball that was attached:

tablecloth                IMG_4301

The pattern was pretty easy to follow. Took me a while to see where the original needle-worker had left off, and I definitely had to get to working on it before I realized how much time was involved in covering one round! The piece was probably about 70 inches already, but it wasn’t blocked. So just going the rounds I did on it pulled it out and then I did a lace finish on it. Here is how the tablecloth looked as received:

Very nice! And then the work began, and here are the first 2 (believe it or not) trips around:

IMG_4324IMG_4325

They don’t look like much but due to the pattern and large circumference took hours and hours! Each little circling of that hole you see at the hem is 24 double treble crochets all the way around (I think 22 of them) + the pineapple chains in between, x 2 rows!

So, for each double treble stitch (one row= 24×22 double trebles) here are the instructions:


  1. Yarn over hook three times, then insert hook into next stitch.
  2. Yarn over hook and draw yarn through stitch (there are five loops on the hook).
  3. Loop yarn over hook and draw through two loops (there are now four loops remaining on the hook).
  4. Yarn over hook and draw through two loops (there are now three loops remaining on the hook).
  5. Yarn over hook and draw through two loops (there are now two loops remaining on the hook).
  6. Again, loop yarn over hook and draw through the last two loops on the hook (there is now one loop remaining.)
  7. This completes one double treble crochet.

Double treble is a fun stitch that adds the needed fan appearance on top of each pineapple. But since adding whole pineapples at that point would’ve involved *far* too much time/hourly expense, Gayle and I opted for a nice finish that was a little lace border. Here is more of it, but then a final finishing row pulled the pineapple tips down a little more, which you see below in the last photos:

View album

Once the hand work is done, it’s time to clean the piece. I enzyme-washed the cloth and then block stretched it to shape it. It dried overnight. I actually blocked it twice because after the first time, I was not happy with the level of lightening on some of the dark brown “rust” stains so I spot-treated them to get them lighter and lighter, carefully using various stain removing agents. If you attempt this at home, I would suggest you do your research first, as there are plenty of times I won’t clean an item and instead will refer people to a textile cleaner I know. Too much room for error, in my opinion.Below are the dark spotted areas. Overall, because the cloth was stored in plastic, there was a lot of yellowing that would come out in the wash:

And now for the finish! Here are the results! Nice and white-clean, and with a little border that looks feminine. It fits on a round 4-seater table or I’ve shown it on a little parlor table.

One Mother, Two Beautiful Bedspreads

After I had repaired Bob of CO’s crocheted spread (see previous post) I was very happy when his sister Kay from CA contacted me. She, too, had a beautiful bedspread their mom had made for her about 75 years ago. Hers was in need of repairs as well.

With Kay’s spread, there were quite a few split threads in the cotton, simply from age and use. That doesn’t bother me a bit, since why *have* a bedspread if you don’t use it? There is SO much work involved in crocheting or knitting a bedspread/counterpane. So many hours. When people go to the trouble to make them, they imagine many, many years of gracing someone’s bed. Which reminds me, I once made some felted slippers for a dear friend, and when she opened the package, she said, “You *made* these for me? I’m putting them right up in my closet.” I said, “Um. You’re supposed to wear them.” And she said, “Oh, no way. You made them for me!” I appreciated the thought, but really, when people make you functional items, they intend for them to be used.  Smile

And so the repairs began, on various double crochets, single crochets and chain stitches. (the popcorn stitch (baubles) was all intact):

Kay1Kay2

 

Kay3Kay4

 

Kay7 (3)Kay8

Kay5Kay6

Some are re-weaves and some are crocheted chains where a chain link is missing.

There were many hours involved in this project, as I had to very carefully check each motif area and see if there were any loose threads at all. And there were many. If I had to estimate, I would say there were at least fifty tiny spots that needed some sort of repair. Some of the splits were more evident than others that just needed to be tacked or reinforced. All of the fringe was in good shape, and there were only a few areas at the border that needed to be whip-stitched back in place.

Once my repairs were completed, I put the spread on one of my beds so that Kay could see how it looks now! It’s a really lovely spread. There are small “rust” spots in several places that my textile cleaner partner, June, will remove for my customer. June is a very talented woman who has been cleaning every type of textile imaginable for over thirty years, and she did Bob’s bedspread and he was amazed at how well it came out!

Here’s the spread, repairs completed and before going to June, as displayed on one of my beds:

Cotton Counterpanes–Bedspreads of Yesteryear

My client’s crocheted bedspread repairs are completed, and it’s ready to go to the cleaner’s. Here are a few more steps I took while finishing up my work:

IMG_3870 IMG_3895

The above photos show a bad place that needed repair, and the 2nd photo is taken from further away but shows the reweaving/re-crocheting.

IMG_3871 IMG_3897

These two photos also show an area that needed repair and was fixed

IMG_3894

This (above) is a shot of the pattern. Shows the lovely popcorn stitching

 

Now everything is coming together in the main counterpane. On to the fringe repair:

IMG_3878

IMG_3885 IMG_3877

The fringe had several issues. First, parts of the crochet chain stitch to which it was knotted had come undone, so I had to repair that. You can see it in the left photo just above this writing. Once that is repaired, then everything has to be unknotted. See the little fringe hanks that I’ve taken off? They all follow a knotting pattern from the top, down. So you have to un-knot the top ones and take them off. Then un-knot everything else. Re-do the top knots, and then re-tie the other two levels.

And now, here is the bedspread at it looks with all the repairs completed!

 

IMG_3889 IMG_3890

This got me to thinking about my own counterpane/bedspread, for which I once accumulated over 150 small balls of Aunt Lydia’s Fast Five cotton thread!! (Yes, it IS in a very large plastic tub in my attic.) This particular counterpane pattern I’m knitting is from Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker Phillips, c.1989. I know I began working on mine around 1990. I think I have 24 squares (the quarter units of the big square.)

I’ve pulled it out lately to see my progress. When people ask me how long something takes to complete, it’s really hard to gauge because I do have things I do other than knit or do needlework. However, I’ve noticed that with my busy schedule, when I’m only working on a knitted square for my counterpane, it takes a whole week. Each ball of thread is ONE unit, and each unit is ONE-FOURTH of a complete square for the pattern stitch.

So, here are a few pictures of mine, which Ms. Phillips created based on her sketches and photos from a late 1800’s counterpane she viewed in Larnach Castle, New Zealand:

IMG_3904

This (above) is 4 units (each unit taking 1 week to complete) sewn together into one pattern square

Look how many I’ve done so far:

IMG_3898 IMG_3905

Once I complete all my quarter units + sew them into the larger squares, then I have to do a border insert. Once the border insert is completed, then there is a lace edging to be done.

Three thoughts:

1) I am a glutton for punishment, as I always choose ridiculously complicated projects for myself

2) There is a reason why Montgomery Ward, Sears and such began manufacturing bedspreads in the turn of the century

3) Why oh why did I have to do this for the king-size bed and not choose at least to do a full size instead, for the guest room?

4) Denise, I should listen to you and just make what I have right now into pillows, but no, see Thought #1 above

5) No dog or cat or grandbaby (way off right now but by the time I complete this project I’ll surely have some) will ever lie, sit, sleep, get a diaper changed, throw up, etc,… on my counterpane!!

A Mother’s Needlepoint Restretched on Acid-Free Board and Reframed

My customer had a beautiful needlepoint woodland scene hand-stitched by his mother that had been water-damaged. Mainly, though, it needed to be removed from the old cardboard backing that someone had originally stapled it to for framing.

IMG_1681

Close-up photo of water damage, acidic cardboard and tear in canvas:

IMG_1673 IMG_1679

IMG_3760

I began by removing the staples and getting the needlework off the cardboard. Next, I patched the torn area with interfacing fabric. Then I machine-stitched clean, unbleached muslin fabric to all sides of the piece. This fabric doesn’t have any starches or finishes on it and it’s very sturdy. It should last a long, long time and be “healthy” for the needlework.

IMG_3752 IMG_3751

Once the fabric was on, all the seams were hand-stitched together and the edges turned under, preparing the piece for lacing it to a piece of Canson brand acid-free art board. Here it is, pinned for lacing:

IMG_3757

And here is the piece laced and ready to go to the framer:

Now the woodlands needlepoint stitched by Ron D of NY’s mother is finished. The frame is from Caroline Budd’s shop here in town. They put it in a protective plastic, and hence the glare and the wrinkling. I didn’t want to take it out and have to wrap it again since it is taped in the back and will ship better that way. Looks good!

And the finished product…

Here is a photo of the needlework sampler completed. I added a linen border for the client because the original stitcher hadn’t left much fabric at the edges of her piece:

380

And here is that “a” re-worked (it’s the “a” in “are” between “Blessed” and “the”:

BEFORE: AFTER:

missing letter 382

Also added embellishments, as requested by client:

370

So, another project has left the craft table, and another is on its way to me in the mail!

Thank you to all my customers! Your business is appreciated.

Needlework repairs I’m working on for clients plus my own

In recent weeks, I’ve been working on a sampler for a client from DC. This is a family piece with dates and names, very nice work. The job is to repair a few holes in the canvas and brighten up the canvas. This posed a bit of a problem, as a little color lifted from the older yarns, and bled onto the fabric. I’ve done the repairs from that for the most part, and am about to work on the holes in the canvas. This canvas is something I haven’t figured out. It’s rather stiff. When I rinsed it out, it seemed to get nice and soft. But it stiffened again as it dried. It’s not feed sacking. It also doesn’t look like any canvas I’ve seen before.

Here is the canvas in its original shape:

original photo

And the repairs have begun:

018

Above, the angel’s face has been re-stitched due to loss of peach-toned stitches from wear and tear.

019 038

Above photos show lightened stain area, and all-over lightened canvas

The canvas has brightened a bit with a cleaning. The writing is sharper. Still shows some stains that will not come out because of their age. You can see the brittleness of the fabric, too, near the staining.

Still need to:

–repair some areas where color lifted

–add scrollwork on sides and between wording

–repair holes with canvas backing

So, back to work!

My own ongoing projects:

Here is a crocheted pin cushion I made myself. It’s a vintage pineapple pin cushion pattern that is shared online:

036

031033

Pretty! I’m very happy with it. Don’t relish the idea of sticking pins in it, though! LOL

Hardest part was pleating that dang ribbon! I made the mistake of going with what the pattern called for, which was 5 yards of 1-inch ribbon. But my sections where the loops of ribbon are to be pulled up from were not 1 inch, they were more like 5/8 of an inch. That makes a difference apparently. So after purchasing 5 yards of 1-inch green satin ribbon and having it now work, I decided to try with grosgrain, which is stiffer, and bought 5 more yards of 1-inch. Still had the problem of the little folds and points NOT wanting to stay in place. Showed my crafty neighbor, who said the only thing she noticed different from hers she’d made and mine was, her ribbon fit perfectly in the spaces and mine seemed a little bunched-up. Off I went to buy 5 MORE yards, this time 5/8” per the measurement of the spaces, and lo and behold, it worked! Live and learn!


PROJECT 2:

Two-at-a-time toe-up socks on Magic Loop:

toe up and 2 at a time

The pattern stitch is a mock cable, accomplished each four rows. I like the Magic Loop because I like having it all on one needle. Have made two-at-a-time on two circular needles, but it gets confusing. You need your needles to be different colors, to keep from accidentally picking up the same needle and bang-o, confusion has set in!

First time I’ve used this Lorna’s Laces yarn. At first I LOVED it, loved the soft feel. But now I’m a little upset that I went on Ravelry (knitting network) and discovered though it’s nice and soft, many sock knitters prefer a cheaper, sturdier yarn like good old Paton’s Kroy sock yarn that you get at JoAnn’s Fabrics. I used that the last time, and I must say, I liked it. I can also see that this yarn is fuzzing up a little. Makes me worry that the socks will develop holes faster. That’s what some knitters said happened to their Lorna’s Laces socks, that they don’t wear as well as other yarns.

Also, I do not like the expensive Addi Lace needles. I think the connection between needle tips and cable is terribly hard to push my stitches over. Also I find the cables stiff, so that causes “ladders” or gaps where you go from back of sock to front in each row. I hear the Knit Picks needles are more flexible. I may try those next time.

I will never again make one sock at a time. I don’t like finishing one and then having to turn around and do another. Two at a time means they’re both done at the same time!  Smile with tongue out