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January 31, 2012

Five Tips For Working With Vintage Fabrics, Trims and Notions – Mad Men Sew-Along Fever!

By Andrea

While you’re all thinking about your fabric choices for the upcoming Mad Men sewalong, I am sure the thought of using some vintage fabrics has crossed your minds!  I have a few tips and recommendations for anyone who’s thinking about doing any projects with vintage fabrics or other notions.

Vintage Barkcloth from seller honeypot on Etsy


My Top Five Tips for Working with Vintage Fabrics, Trims and Notions:

  1. Check over the integrity of the piece of fabric you’ve purchased.  This can be tricky to do when you’re making your purchase online, but once you’ve received your piece, be sure to give it a good once over and check for any flaws, tears, or areas of other degradation.   Your finished project is only going to be as strong as the weakest bit of fabric, and the last thing you want is your finished item to start falling apart.
  2. Pre-clean your fabric in the manner that you plan to clean your finished item.  Many fabrics can be pre-washed in your machine (I would stay away from machine washing anything that might be wool or silk based), and if your fabric is in good condition, you can wash it as you would wash anything else.  I strongly recommend prewashing any fabric you’re ever using for any project, be it vintage or not.  Fabrics are often treated with chemicals at the factory, and it’s good to get that out in advance of working with it.  Not to mention, pre-shrinking is a definite plus.  If you’ve got fabric that is a bit more fragile, a product like Soak wash can be a good alternative – it’s no rinse, and very gentle on fabrics.
  3. If you’re using vintage trims, don’t forget to pre-clean those as well! You would hate to toss your finished item in the wash and discover that the pretty trim you spent a ton of time sewing on just disintegrated!
  4. I would personally avoid using any type of vintage thread.  I know there are people out there who have sucessfully sewn with vintage threads, however I’ve always personally been leery.  Your finished item is only as strong as the thread that you’ve sewn it with (anyone who’s sewn with 3/$1 thread will attest to this!), and the last thing you want your finished item to do is completely fall apart after you’ve put all of that time and effort into it!
  5. Vintage packaged notions that are still in the package are probably good to go as they are – assuming you can bear to take them out of the package 🙂

Vintage Trim from seller Needies on Etsy

There you have my top tips!  I hope this helps you in your working with vintage fabrics, Readers, and if you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them for you!


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3 Responses to Five Tips For Working With Vintage Fabrics, Trims and Notions – Mad Men Sew-Along Fever!

  1. Sara In AZ Reply

    January 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Great tips Andrea, and I definitely agree about pre-washing fabric!

    • Andrea Reply

      January 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      I am always amazed when people swear by not pre-washing! I want to know my fabric i clean and ready to go for sure.

  2. Kristine Reply

    January 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I’m bursting with excitement!! I just purchased my fabrics.
    see here http://kitschnsinkstudio.blogspot.com/
    I’m going for a Fun look rather than authenticity..Thanks Andrea
    and Eartha for the encouragement. 🙂

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