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Thread: How much breathing does cotton fabric need?

  1. #1
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    How much breathing does cotton fabric need?

    This really is a serious question - I just haven't figured out a way to word it better -

    I have fabric in stacks - and plastic bins -

    Every once in a while the fabrics get rotated when I'm looking for something (excavating) - is that enough 'airing out' for them? How often should they be refolded? Is that even necessary?

    The ruler method of folding works well - but should they fabrics be refolded every couple of years? (I'm reasonably sure that at least some of us have fabrics that are more than six months old.)

    I had my DH drill holes near the tops of some of the plastic bins - air now gets in - but then so can bugs.
    (Although I did not notice any bugs in those bins)

  2. #2
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    Good question.

  3. #3
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Good question ! I know there is a specific humidity level for cotton ... but could not tell you off hand what it is. I do know refolding is a good pratice. Fabrics can develope permanent creases if left folded too long with the same crease, how long that time frame might be.. I think there are variables , heat, humidity that would need to be calculated. I hope there is a good rule of thumb . ... but on the other hand .. refolding my stash.... now thats a project and then some.

    I love your term "excavating" for digging through stash... have you uncovered many "fossils" in your digs ?!

  4. #4
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    Heck I'd be a month refolding fabric. I never had trouble with creases. After I wash the fabric and iron it the only creases will be what I iron in!!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lori S View Post
    Good question ! I know there is a specific humidity level for cotton ... but could not tell you off hand what it is. I do know refolding is a good pratice. Fabrics can develope permanent creases if left folded too long with the same crease, how long that time frame might be.. I think there are variables , heat, humidity that would need to be calculated. I hope there is a good rule of thumb . ... but on the other hand .. refolding my stash.... now thats a project and then some.

    I love your term "excavating" for digging through stash... have you uncovered many "fossils" in your digs ?!
    There are a few 'fossils' in my stash - there are a few 'what was I thinking?' pieces -

    If the fabrics are overly damp - I think mildew might become a problem - musty smelling?

    I don't know what happens if it becomes overly dry - brittle, maybe?

    So far, most of what I have seems to be in good condition - I have had a few issues with colors fading along the fold lines - and NONE of my fabrics are in direct sunlight.

    The idea of refolding everything - is not very appealing. The big pieces that I have brought out are opened for measuring - but that's kind of an exercise to put them back - last time I fan-folded the pieces at 30 inch intervals and then folded that into thirds. Now when I'm refolding them, I'm fan-folding the pieces into 24 inch intervals, folding that in half, and then folding selvage to selvage.

  6. #6
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    I recently went thru a box that my mother had.....fabric was folded in the box (not a plastic bin) for probably 50 yrs. The fabric was just fine!!!!!! That being said ---- I wonder at the difference of our fabrics today compared to the fabrics 50 yrs ago. With the chemicals they add nowadays, I wonder if they'll last as long. You rummaging around is just fine. I, too, would not want to refold everything. UGH!!

    Others mention mildew....I live in the high desert....we don't have mildew problems....but if you lived in Astoria Oregon (average 55 inches rain per year), you know that mildew can happen at any given moment. So --- rummaging around in your fabrics, not putting them away damp, and getting busy sewing will prevent the problem!

    Also -- the experts tell us to not store our quilts in plastic......It dawned on me the other day that storing my fabrics in plastic bins is the same as storing a finished quilt in plastic!!!! I've been busy removing the bins and stacking my fabrics.......UGH - what a job!!!! Guess I'd better get busy sewing!
    Dee


    "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." by George Bernard Shaw

  7. #7
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    So why not plastic tubs? What should be used instead?

  8. #8
    Super Member earthwalker's Avatar
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    I keep a fair bit in plastic bins and ziplock bags the rest is on open shelving. I wash (but don't iron) everything before it goes in the "stash". Some of my fabric is vintage, some I bought about 20 yrs ago and the rest is pretty new. The only problem I have is dust (on the open shelving bit). We have a hot, dry summers (and live in the hills with lots of red gravel/dust) and cold, wet winters. So far I haven't had any problems, but I am a regular rummager and every quarter I take everything out for a shake, refold and scrutiny (along the lines of "Gee I forgot I had that" or "what was I thinking".).

  9. #9
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I don't waste much time worrying about my stash. A couple of years ago I finally admitted to myself that I would not be doing much garment sewing. I packed up all of the fabric I had been saving for that purpose and donated it to our local Vo Tech textiles school. I have fabric stored in cardboard boxes, plastic bags, plastic tubs and just stacked high. I don't worry about anything happening to it except falling on me. Several months ago, in an attempt to make a dent in my stash I went through some of it and paired up backs and fronts for Linus quilts. If I ever get done making them into quilts I will move on to the next pile. I average about 20 Linus quilts a month so you get the idea just how much fabric I have. I still can't resist buying more if I find a really great buy in the clearance aisle. I also make the little Princess Pillowcase dresses. Just another excuse to buy fabric. I have to do my part to keep the economy going. I hate to waste coupons.
    In more than 45 years of sewing and quilting I have rarely had to discard any fabric because it was soiled, stained or damaged beyond some use.
    Trying to sew, quilt or read everyday.

  10. #10
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I don't have my fabric stored in plastic bins...but do have some in plastic laundry baskets, then stored on shelves in a closet...also unfinished projects in baskets. I do take them out,maybe a couple of times a year to go through the projects and see what I may want to finish, and refold. The fabric in bins are plaids/homespuns since my other storage area is overflowing with them. I love to use plaids for borders on quilts, so they are waiting for the right quilt to be used on. I have never seen any bugs, being in a closet, they won't fade, and I don't really worry about my stash otherwise.

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