Friday, July 16, 2010

Mildew on Cotton

Of all the things I've sewed in my life -- nothing has given me more pleasure than the slipcovers I made for my porch furniture. You've seen pictures many times...

And because MOST OF YOU SEW -- you will understand how many hours I spent making them. At the time, I was trying to USE UP MY STASH -- so I mixed up a lot of different fabrics. There was a little upholstery, some zebra knit I backed with muslin, some applique with t-shirt knit fabrics...some faux piping to create stripes...I SPENT HOURS AND HOURS making these slipcovers...

So, for the last three years, I've been careful to COVER the furniture if there's a big storm coming through. But, the last time I covered the furniture, it must have already been, two days later, when I remembered to remove the cover...there it was....the bane of my existance...the enemy of cotton...the kiss of death...MILDEW...

Mostly, the mildew was on the love seat bottom cushion. Specifically -- if you look at the pictures, the butter yellow fabric. That yellow fabric is sweatshirt fleece. I had about 3 yards of it at the time, and I remember thinking the sweatshirt fleece would hold up. BUT IT'S THE ONLY PIECE THAT GOT MILDEWED. ugh. You will notice -- THERE IS A LOT OF YELLOW...

I tried the following remedies: OxyClean, vinegar, Whink mildew remover, soaking overnight in buttermilk, spraying with Tilex mildew root, spreading with a paste of salt mixed with lemon juice. Obviously, nothing worked. I'm ready to state, for the record, that NOTHING WILL REMOVE MILDEW FROM COTTON.

Wow. There ought to be a way we could harness that kind of power, y'know? And use it for good instead of evil...

My plan is to sew some new fabric on top of the yellow fleece and then cut it away...that should work, eh? I'll keep you posted...


  1. Have you tried bright sunshine. My grandma used to place items in the sun to bleach them, it would certainly be worth a try. My other comment would be to be sure there are absolutely no mold spores on the substrate cushion.

    Your covers are absolutely delightful with the combination of fabrics and patterns and show the time and thought put into them. I'm in the process of redoing a covered porch and considering fabrics for some cushions and will keep your situation in mind as I plan.

    Good luck with your moldy problem,

  2. Thanks, Alice. The sunshine, when combined with the salt and lemon juice treatment, did make a dent. I'll post new pictures in a coupla days...

  3. I'm also fighting mildew, but on a $5 kid T-shirt. Not sure why, but I love a laundry challenge. Have washed twice now in a load of whites with bleach. It's back in the washing machine w/ bleach pen on the little black spots that remain - and the other misc. stains. Can't wait to hear about your remedies.


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