Monday, January 26, 2009

Four Gingerbreadmen Went on a Journey...

and what a journey it was. This appliqued and embroidered top had been done and basted for several years when it cried out to be hand quilted just after Thanksgiving. I marked it with the Clover Fine Line Marker (the one that irons away) and quilted it in a couple days. I decided to take it to a class to show them how easily the marks iron away. (And they do; that is not the horror story coming.) While pressing, the shop iron "leaked" majorly onto my almost-finished quilt. I didn't think much about it, since I had washed all the fabrics before I used them. Since the iron was leaking, I only removed the marks from part of one border and stopped. I showed the class that the marks were gone and then went about helping students. I scrunched the quilt up against me while showing someone something else and then threw it back into my bag.

Like everyone else, I have to do laundry. I washed a load of my clothes and then set the shirts aside to be ironed later. When I got to the ironing, the shirt I had worn that night had a big pinkish stain on the button flap--and it was pretty noticeable since the shirt is white, yellow and blue striped. At first I was nonplussed (love that word!)--where could it have come from? So I put some Tide to Go on it, rewashed it and it was gone. So far, so good. Unfortunately, things took a big downturn after that. When I pulled the quilt out of the bag, YIKES!!!! The red fabric on one arm had run onto that pristine white background and through all three layers to the backing, and it had stained the embroidery on that arm. I needed major amounts of chocolate to even keep from fainting.

So the journey began: How was I ever going to get that pink stain out without ruining my (did I say it before?) almost-finished quilt? I turned first to my Tide to Go pen since it had helped with my shirt. It lightened the mark, but it was still ghosting. Now the mission (which I had to accept) was really on. I searched for every laundry stain removing product I could find. I tried Carbona (no joy), Fels-Naptha soap (to which I am allergic, apparently), and I tried OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover (probably the best so far, but other areas seemed to be bleeding too!). The poor quilt had been washed several times by now. And each time I added a Shout Dye Magnet to the wash, so I knew I was still having a problem. I air dried the piece after each washing, and several times I thought I had solved the problem, only to have the marks ghost once more when dry. I was at wit's end. And worst of all, I have grown my hair out a bit so it would have been a prime site for hair tearing! (I'm sorry, no cheese can be served with this whine--it is, after all, a blog!)

By now I was desperate. After attending the preview party for Quilters Corner's new building (absolutely fantabulous!), I bought Synthrapol and Retayne. After girding my loins for a couple days, I threw caution to the wind and poured Synthrapol into a dishpan, added the hottest water I could stand to get my hands in and...pushed the quilt under. The worst that would happen is the quilt would be ruined for my use, but I figured Callie could use it to sleep on. The directions say to agitate the quilt for about 5 minutes. So I pulled the quilt out of the water and pushed it back in, pulled it out, pushed it in. At first nothing happened. Then...whoosh...a giant wave of color fell off the quilt and into the water--it actually turned the water pink! So my worst nightmare was that all the white parts would be turned pink by this. But my five minutes were not up yet, so I kept agitating. BEEP! Time's up. I take the quilt out, dump the water and start to refill the pan. Then I rinsed and rinsed the piece. At long last I laid the piece on a towel, blotted the excess water and left it to dry. I had learned the hard way that to closely scrutinize the quilt for pink while still wet was a fool's errand. So I left it for several hours, turning it occasionally to let it dry better.

(I think at this point that Callie was doing some kind of voodoo to get that pink stain to spread so the quilt would be hers, all hers--MMMMEEEEOOOOOWWWW!)

And (drum roll please), every bit of the dye came out. The picture above and the detail below are after this odyssey was over. It still needs a sleeve, binding and a label, but it survived multiple washings and treatment that no normal quilt should ever be subjected to. The cause of the bleeding? As near as I can figure, it was the difference in the water. I had washed the fabric at my house (no chlorine, but lots of minerals) and had pressed it at the shop with water that was different and may have caused the dyes to become unstable. What I learned from this process? Only press where I know the water!!!!! This took years off my life and made my hair even grayer. For those of you who saw me during these traumatic weeks, that's the explanation for that manic look.

As always, truth is stranger than fiction. I couldn't have made up this story if I'd tried!

Stay warm, keep quilting, be kinder than necessary to everyone--including yourself.

Hugs to all,


  1. I sure hope that these four "gentlemen-gingermen's" truly appericate all the trouble you went through to safe their lives and to return them to a perfect state of harmony!!!!(i am sure i would of given up long before.....!)

  2. This is amazing! Wow, what a lesson. Thanks, once again, for enduring the pain so we don't have to!



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