It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Exploding Box of Smoke and Fabric

Looks innocent enough....right?

Luckily, I had been warned ahead of time, so I carefully opened the box seams....
Mmhmmmm.....see the Space Bag?  You know, those bags that suck all of the air out of the contents?

I opened the bag & stood back....

It grew.....and grew.....

Parting shot of the easy way to get it all downstairs to the laundry room....
(if you look very closely you can see a cat at the bottom of stairs clearly saying "WTF???")

The back story:  A dear friend heard that I was making bustles, and she got all excited at the prospect of finding a home for her daughter's years and years of dance costumes.   I got all excited at the prospect of frabjous free fabric!   So she packed it all up, and today this gigantic exploding present arrived at my doorstep!  I seriously could BARELY pick it up - it really was THAT heavy!

The bad news:  it never even occurred to me to ask if the costumes had been around smokers....and it was immediately evident that they were.

 :::cry:::

UPDATE:  I just got the official word....apparently it was the Seamstress' husband who was a chain smoker (and died of cancer....)   Good heavens, all of the costumes she made must have smelled!  And a couple of environments the daughter danced in were bad, according to Dear Friend.   Maybe they aren't really all THAT bad....Dear Friend said she could smell something when the costumes were made but couldn't put her finger on it, and everyone else kept telling her she was imagining it .....but after being stored in plastic bags for several years, the smoke smell really sank in. It really isn't nearly as bad as some boxes of fabric I was given a couple of years ago - and I WAS able to save at least some of that fabric, (with NUMEROUS washings!) but what I saved from that batch was nearly all natural fibers, so I don't know if this will be different..... we'll see......

I'm in the midst of doing a mini-boatload of laundry right now, and this is a good excuse to get my outside laundry line hung up to dry things in the sun.

Any hints or tips for removing smoke smell from synthetic dance-type fabrics?  Everything from tulle to spandex to lace to velvet is in here!  I already have a box of feathers & stuffed items sitting outside & ready to go to a donation site, and I have load #1 on its second cycle in the machine.....fingers are crossed, and advice is welcomed!

16 comments:

  1. First, that is *so* funny about the package!!

    Second, I don't know about the smoke. So sorry! Hopefully the laundry and some fresh air will help.

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  2. Seal the offending fabric in a box with a dryer sheet or two (depending on how much there is) and just let it sit for a while (days, not hours). When we had a house fire, this is how the cleanup company handled nonwashable stuff. And it worked amazingly well. Certainly worth a try.

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    1. Thanks bustermommy - I think anything that can't be washed will be donated, but I'll give that a try if there's any smell left after washing. My intention was to use most of this fabric for items to sell, so I need to be absolutely anal about cleanliness and smell!

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  3. Oh wow- it really looks like Cirque du soleil is trying to stalk and eat your cat!

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  4. Purchase a bottle of PURE Ayre and add a capful to each load of laundry. Works miracles.

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    1. Awesome!!! I see that Petco and Whole Foods have it, so I can pick some up to try locally - if it works, this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I'm looking for! Organic, food grade, effective.....fingers crossed and Thank You!

      Oh, and if it works, I'm in love with you, even if you are Anonymous! ;-D

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  5. Oh my goodness, that made me laugh!
    But then I felt horrible that all that fabric is so badly contaminated. Ick. Sometimes, my mother, who still smokes, will send us a book or an item of clothing for Liz. None of it is as bad as what you got (smoke sealed in for possibly years).
    I've always been able to get it out of clothing with repeated (see 5 or 60 washings, and a lot of fabreeze, and then airing outdoors, but the books often get thrown out. I can't figure out how to get the smell out of cheap paper and cardboard.

    But good luck! I hope you can salvage most of the fabric. :)

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    1. Linda, did you try the dryer sheet trick with books? I got a lot of patterns with that same batch of fabric from a couple of years ago...and a dress form....I aired them out in fresh air for days, and also sealed them in bags with charcoal, which helped, but I might try the dryer sheet trick too.

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  6. Oh my! Holy tulle! I hope you can salvage much of this to use.

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  7. Oh dear I sure hope the washing does the trick! If you air it outside for a few days, that might help too. So many clothes... my laundry looks like that after a week of camping, and I have three children!

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  8. Jilly, ask Yakky...she is a pro at getting smelly laundry clean. TMOTC has a job that makes for stinky clothes and she has a formula she uses when she washes his stuff. I think it involves baking soda.

    I also know that at one time I had a sofa that was my grandmothers who was a chain smoker. We tried to steam clean it but the smell wouldn't come out. I did notice however, that leaving it outdoors in the sun was helping tremendously. Now, we couldn't leave it outside and ended up giving it to smokers, but I'm wondering if some quality time with the sunshine after washing would help. The stuff that can't be laundered would be a real problem.

    Smokers...they have no idea!!!

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    1. Thanks Mimi - I'll give a shout out to Yakky :) I am using Baking Soda in the laundry (that's a usual for me), and everything that's been through 1 wash cycle is hanging outside right now - I'm just going to leave it for at least a day, then will wash again.

      I also finally realized I should be spraying the washer down with a good odor eater in between loads.

      I should be an expert by the time I've gathered together all these tips!

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  9. Also...that exploding box is a hoot! Yakky and I hit a little girls clothing store going out of business sale the other day, and I bought tutus for the girls for $5 each, butterfly wings for $1 each, and a bunch of sensible stuff for a song. All of the clothes in that store were ridiculously expensive and it was fun to get a bargain there. BTW, they were closing because her husband got transferred so she is moving her store to another city.

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  10. Scatter baking soda through the clothes before you wash them, leave overnight. Shake them out. outdoors, then wash as normal. Line dry.
    All of this has pretty much been suggested but why not ry calling some professional costume cleaners or the local theatre wardrobe mistress or the local dry cleaner and asking advice?

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  11. I have had great success getting smells out of clothes, using an enzyme cleaner. Here in Canada we have a product called Amaze and it gets the smell and stains out of just about everything, including a stuffie rescued from a house fire (after washing it smelled like it was brand new). I don't know what you have available down there, do you have the Tide stain release boost packs, cause they have washing soda and an enzyme cleamer in them. I would fill the washer (assuming you have a top loading machine) with warm water, add detergent and one or two of the booster packs and agitate for a couple of minutes, then turn off the machine and let the stuff soak overnight. Turn machine back on and let finish. Hopefully this will work.

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