Tuesday, December 09, 2008

That reminds me

A long time ago, when my kids were toddlers and I used to sew, I made myself a dress. It was a combination of two patterns, in a pretty, summery poly cotton. I also made a pair of overalls for my daughter. You know the kind with the buttons at the bib and the straps that come up over the shoulder, with a clip/buckle?

Well, one day, these two articles of clothing found themselves together in the laundry hamper, one on top of the other. The fabric of the dress and the buckle/clip of the pants were in direct contact, near the shoulder of the dress. When laundry day came around, there was a perfect imprint of the buckle on the dress....... in rust.

I was devastated. This was a great summer dress and it was comfortable and it looked good on me. I certainly couldn't wear it anywhere but around the house with this glaring rust stain on it. So I consulted a couple of books of household hints I'd received from my mother-in-law. In one, I found a way of removing rust from clothing. What did I have to lose? The dress would have ended up in the garbage if the rust didn't come out, so if it was ruined in the process, it really didn't matter, did it?

I did what the book suggested and it worked! I wore that dress for the next couple of summers and, unless they were told the story, no one knew that the dress had come close to being nothing but trash.

So, why am I telling you this? Tina left a comment on my last post, telling me about her disaster with blocking wires and rust. Maybe this will help rescue someone else's pride and joy.

Pour some salt into a small bowl; squeeze some lemon juice (fresh is best, but the fake stuff does work) onto the salt, enough to make a paste. Now take that paste and put it onto the rust stain. Allow it to soak in for a few minutes. Add more if you wish. Then, get a kettle of water and bring it to a boil, a good strong boil. Keep it boiling; you need the steam. Now comes the magical part. Hold the rust stained fabric over the steaming kettle.... perhaps you should be wearing some hand protection; you don't want to burn yourself. I held the dress almost directly on the spout of the kettle. You should, within a short time, begin to see the rust stain disappear before your very eyes!

Once you're happy, turn off the kettle and launder your whatever it is. From what the booklet said, you can use this method on most fabrics, but if you're concerned, try it out on a swatch or an inside seam first.

As an aside, I'm not sure what kind of blocking wires Tina used. The ones I bought were stainless steel tig rods, as recommended by numerous knitters in the Laceknitters Yahoo group. They were very specific.


  1. Stainless steel tig wires won't rust and unless she bought those, that is the reason for her rust! What a shame, rust after all that lace work.

    Sounds like you figured out the perfect solution!!

  2. Ev, you told me that one when it happened and I tried it then – it didn’t work. But I have to admit I don’t know what those wires were made from (and I don’t have them any more to check) – but it was definitely not steel and not iron either so it was no rust but some other corrosion. What made me even more angry then was that I had asked the guy where I had bought them if they were "safe" with water -yes- AND that I had wiped them with a wet cloth first to see if anything would come off -no- , so it must have been the dampness of the knitted fabric over time.

  3. That's a great tip Ev; I'm going to have to store it for future reference because sure as God made little green apples, I'm going to need it some day :)