that's a lot of cross-stitch.
January 28, 2013 11:33 PM   Subscribe

I found this impressively large and intricate cross-stitch bedspread while thrifting. It's stitched on a pre-printed blue grid, it's queen- or possibly king-sized, and it appears to be backed in feedsack. Further ID and cleaning suggestions sought.

While I'm pretty good with vintage garments, I don't know that much about other kinds of textiles, so I don't know much about it, including how to clean it safely. Will an Oxy Clean bath make the embroidery floss bleed dye? How can I check if it's colorfast, and prevent dye bleeding if it's not? And I right in my guess that it dates to somewhere between 1920 and 1950?

If I can get it clean it's going straight on top of my comforter-- it's gorgeous, and has got to represent an absurd about of handwork.
posted by nonasuch to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
To test colorfastness, you can dab a white towel wet with hot water on an inconspicuous spot. You could also try soaking the spot and trying to dab off color.

This is a really good link for cleaning a cross stitch piece:

This is an article on cleaning quilts that I think is applicable: (opens to PDF)
You may not want to clean it if you think it's likely to be vintage.

There used to be a product called Whink that was good for rust stains, if that's an issue. I think they still make it.

I am pretty sure that dry cleaning is an option for non-colorfast pieces. Maybe check with your drycleaner. If you don't feel comfortable cleaning it, consider framing it as artwork.

I don't have a good eye, but it looks really early-40's to me. No idea why I think that, it's just an impression from the design. I agree that it's an incredible piece!
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:00 AM on January 29, 2013

whoa whoa whoa...appraiser. stat. that looks either depression era or possibly chilean...and that big? possibly worth thousands.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:29 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

(ie...don't try to clean it first)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:30 AM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Umm, oh wow...I know next to nothing about textiles, but that is incredible!

As sexyrobot says, I think you might want to get someone knowledgeable to look at it first.
posted by Salamander at 12:58 AM on January 29, 2013

If it's got a pre-printed grid under the stitches, I would not think that it is old or rare (or valuable beyond the obvious labor and prettiness). If you're making an appointment with an appraiser, you might mention that grid first thing, while still on the phone with them -- it might save you a trip and some money.

To wash it, I would use Orvus, which is used by quilters and quilt museums. It's cheap and easy to find when you're looking for it (try sewing stores, craft stores, animal tack stores). I explain why quilters use it here, and there are some good laundering tips in that Ask, too.
posted by Houstonian at 2:23 AM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would contact the V+A Museum. A huge part of their collection is textiles, and a decent part of that are embroideries, and there won't be anything they don't know about cleaning or preserving. And if it's something that's worthwhile for a museum, they'll be quick to tell you. I#m afraid I don't know what the US equivalent is, but it seems they're happy to give opinions over e-mail.
posted by mippy at 4:06 AM on January 29, 2013

You could also contact the International Quilt Study Center for advice on cleaning and preserving it. It's beautiful.
posted by Ostara at 6:29 AM on January 29, 2013

Seconding Houstonian: with a pre-printed grid, it's probably at least post-WWII.
posted by easily confused at 8:23 AM on January 29, 2013

I#m afraid I don't know what the US equivalent is, but it seems they're happy to give opinions over e-mail.

Maybe the Textile Museum in DC? They have some Guidelines on Care, but those quilting sites linked above seem pretty good, too. Also, if you decide to investigate its provenance and have more questions on conservation, the museum recommends The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

I used to cross-stitch a lot, and I remember reading that pre-stamped kits became popular in the 30s. But I think the grids with the colored squares became popular in the 50s and 60s. Whatever the age, it's a great find -- what a lot of work to make an entire quilt!
posted by bluefly at 10:02 AM on January 29, 2013

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