Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Art of Finishing Textiles

We all love to create with our fibers...yarns, knitting, weaving, sewing, crochet... yet how many of us take the time to finish our art so that it looks its' best?

Here are my tips for finishing.   I realize many of you will not have access to some of the machines or products that I use so I will give you alternatives.

My finishing process:
First, all pieces are soaked in white vinegar and water to set the color.  The vinegar also strengthens the fiber.
Then I wash the finished work in my Miele washer on "wool" or "silk" settings.  I use "Perwol", a German product for delicate fibers.  I also put "Snuggle" fabric softener in the rinse cycle.  For Black or dark pieces, I use "Black Magic" by the same German manufacturer.   This soap helps retain dark colors instead of fading them in the wash.
**After the washing cyle, I hang the piece over the banister to dry, or if it needs to be blocked, like a sweater, I block it on top of a towel on my dining room table to dry.

For scarves, they are pressed twice with a Rowenta steam iron or Naimoto gravity feed iron, using distilled water.  The result for the silks are glorious... wonderful soft drapes and fabulous sheens.

Usually the sweater does not need any more finishing as I take care in the blocking, smoothing out all the wrinkles wihile it is wet.  The finishing process for knits and wovens is  very important because it evens out all the stitches and sets the knit/ weave.  It "fulls". 

Alternatives:  If you do not have a washer with a gentle/wool/silk/handwash cycle, soak your work in warm water with some blue "Dawn" dish detergent  after the vinegar soak.  The original blue "Dawn" is pH neutral.  Conservators use it for their textiles.   Drain your piece a colander, never squeeze or wring.  Put it back in the sink to rinse.  Drain again.  The final rinse will have the "Snuggle' fabric softener.  Drain in the colander again.
Roll the piece in a towel to absorb excess water.  For scarves or sweaters, follow the directions above **

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