“You’re a dirty purse!”


I love when I find a vintage article at the thrift store and the only thing wrong with it is dirt. The minute I touch it, it starts to tell me its story, and often it begs me to take it home.

I find purses, gloves, and dresses that are beautiful laces, perfect beading, and wonderful fabric and they are filthy. And often they are prices like $.99.

Wow! Something 50, 60, 100 years old and beautiful sitting around with a price tag that says $1.00 or $.25 just screaming for me to take it home.

Does this happen to you? For me, it is beaded purses and Kid Gloves…

So what do you do? You buy it? And then what?

The secret to cleaning anything vintage is patience. It takes time and TLC. You have to use the right tools and do the steps with purpose or you run the risk of destroying the item.

First, I just want to take a moment to say that nothing is ever certain. You can follow every step that a professional offers you and you may still destroy the item. A cleaning product can make one purse beautifully white, and leave another purse with water spots. The best advice that I can give you is to just take things one step at a time and enjoy the process. Allow your self to listen to the story that the article is telling you and when you are successful chalk it up to a balance of your hard work and a blessing from the Fabric Farie.


OK, so what do I use? Hot and cold water. I have a great double kitchen sink and a spray nozzle that I can control how hard the water sprays. I have 2 different sized white bowls that I use for smaller things so that I can see the dirt as it leaves the article. White vinegar and salt are the very first and best things I have found for removing the first few layer of dirt. From there I use Cheer Free. Stay away from products that have smells and colors in it.


I know it sounds crazy, but Adam’s car cleaning products have been really great for releasing things that appear to be greasy and oily. My boyfriend details vehicles and anyone who knows how crazy they are about being easy on a car’s paint and chrome would understand why their products can be trusted. They make degreaser and products to wash microfiber wash rags. Just read everything and use very small amounts of each product.

First? Simply fill the bowl with hot water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Gently let the water enter into the purse and begin to soak through the dirt.


Most of the time, within minutes, the dirt will begin to release from the purse…


After a few minutes you can pour off the first set of water. MAKE SURE TO CHECK THE WATER! Keep any threads, beads, or other pieces off of the purse so that you can restore as much of the purse as you can when it is clean.  Simply fill the bowl back up, add a little vinegar and let it soak again.


Do this about 3 times over about an hour, allowing the purse to drain gently between each set of water until the water is not longer super dirty. The next time, add one tablespoon of the detergent that is similar to Cheer Free.


This time, you will see a whole new set of dirt release.  Do this several times also. Each time the water should get less and less dirty.  Let the bowl set over night with the water, detergent, and purse in it. Place it somewhere where it will not be too hot or cold. Keep it way from pets and food. (You can safely do this several nights in a row as long as you change the water and allow the purse some breathing time in between.)

The next morning drain the water off. Allow the purse to drain. I use a dish strainer that allows the water to run into the kitchen sink. After the purse is not dripping wet check it out. Look and see where the dirt and stains are the darkest. Here is were you will treat it directly with a stronger detergent. Make sure and use gloves if your skin is sensitive,  but gently rub the cleaner into the stains. Leave the cleaner on the purse and allow to soak again in a bowl of clean water.


If you are very gentle you can use the spray nozzle on your sink if you have one. Keep the purse in the bowl and make sure to catch all the beads that get knocked off. This time, spray the purse and run water through it until there is no more dirt or bubbles or smell. Push the water through all places of the purse until it is clear and has no smell or color.


Now, here is the tricky part…if you want to try and make an item stark white you can try your hand at bleaching it.

Add tiny amounts of bleach to large amounts of water and allow the purse to soak. Just keep doing it over and over until the purse is white. Rinse the purse and allow to air dry for several days.

There are always the factors of tags, metal, beading, lace, etc. Each item needs to be assessed. Each item needs to be treated individually. Never expect anything to just magically work out. Always take your time. Enjoy the process. Enjoy your piece of the past.

Keep watching. I will follow with a blog soon about rebeading, and cleaning the metal.

Please let me know if you have any questions…I will do my best to help…..




(The example purse is a 1950-1960 handmade Belgium Walborg)


You want me for CHEAP?


I don’t understand.

I spend hours, even days. I get up early in the morning and the first thing on my mind is her.

I check emails, and I drink my coffee and I can’t wait to get to her.

I think about her in the shower, and while I fix my hair.

I get excited as I drive to work and I can’t wait to see her.

She is someone to me. She is viable and understanding. She is real. She tries so hard to do as I ask and be what I need her to be. She is always waiting where I left her and never goes on without me. She is a dress….but to me she is so much more.

Her fabric is her skin and she lets me touch it. Her lace is her blush and she never hides it from me. The thread is she and I making some kind of sense out of this crazy world.

She is never going to talk back to me. She is never going to hurt me or disappoint me.

So when someone wants her for “cheap”, when someone tells me she is not worth what I ask for her… Can you look at me and her and say that all our hours together are nothing?

How can someone want her and want to wear her and hold her and take her from me, but they don’t want to pay? They want to separate me from something I created, something I love, but they want to look me in the eye and tell me all my hard work and all my tears are not worth anything.

They want to take her and show their friends, have their picture taken, take their child to the alter of God, GET MARRIED…

But they want her…they want me? FOR CHEAP?


ImageThere are days when I wonder what it is I am doing. 

I struggle with things like purpose, and meaning.

I am curious about terms like compassion and understanding.

When I push it all away and I pick up my scissors and pins I can clear my brain. I can focus my thoughts and organize my mind. By organizing my materials and reading my patterns I can do something worth while and produce something viable. I can give something that is constructive. I can produce something valid. 

I may not change the world by making a dress, but it is what I do. And I have to do something.

The Definition of Obsessed!

Everyday, when I roll out of bed, I have a cup of coffee. I just have one, or two….well….I mean, if someone brings me a cup during the day from Starbucks I will drink it. I love anything mint. And sometimes, people at the Mill will make a pot, and I will put a few cents in the change cup and have a little….OK, so I drink a lot of coffee. BUT…I don’t drink soda. Unless it is Pepsi. I love Pepsi…

OK, so I sew. I sew every day. Sometimes I sew 13 hours a day. Sometimes, I take things apart. Sometimes, I destroy things.

But you know, when things are a mess you have to make a mess to work it out. It works that way with relationships. Cleaning the garage. Coloring your hair…

The first thing Adam and Eve did when they realized they were sinful was make aprons. They knew things were going to get messy. They knew that they were going to have to get down and dirty to get it cleaned up.

So, I sew….everyday….I did today. I will tomorrow.

And I will let you know how it goes!

sew society