Thread lace should never be sewed fast, or washed upon the article of which it forms the trimming.
It should be merely run on, or basted with short stitches; so as to draw out the thread easily, when the lace is taken off for washing. The trouble is nothing in com-parison to the advantage. In the first place, thread lace, to look well and last long, should never be touched with starch. Starching thread lace injures the texture, (causing the threads to break,) and gives it a hard, stiff appearance. If sewed fast, and washed and done up with the muslin collar or pelerine, it shrinks and thickens up among the gathers, and partakes of the starch that has been used for the muslin; and, of course, can have no resemblance to new lace that has never been washed at all. Again, it will not last half so long, as if always taken off, and done up separately from the muslin.
Every lady should have at least two lace bottles, as it is not well to wind more than three or four yards of lace upon one bottle. They should be straight black bottles of the largest size, and it is well to buy them new for the purpose; otherwise something of their former contents may come out when boiling, and injure the lace. Also there may be remains of wax, rosin, or some other cement, lingering about the place where the cork was; and this will melt in the water, and cause the lace to look streaked. The bottles being perfectly clean, (inside and out,) cover them with thick, strong, new white linen, sewed on tightly and smoothly, with coarse thread. When not in use, keep them wrapped up in clean paper.
Having taken off the lace from the article on which it was basted, begin near the bottom of the bottle; tack one end of the lace with a needle and strong thread to the linen; and wind it smoothly round with the edge downward; and all the scollops smooth, so that none may be creased or curled inward. Wind the lace on the bottle in such a manner as to leave the scolloped or pattern-edge visible all round; and finish just below the neck of the bottle. Then tack down with the needle and thread the last or terminating end of the lace. Early in the evening put the bottle with the lace into a clean earthen or white-ware vessel, filled with clear cold water, and let it soak till bed-time. Then change the water, and let it soak all night.
In the morning, fill a clean porcelain kettle, or a deep earthen pipkin, with a strong suds of clear soft water and the best white soap. Into this, put the bottle with the lace on it; having tied a twine string round the neck of the bottle so as to make it fast to the handles or the rim of the vessel, that it may be kept as steady as possible while boiling. It must on no account be boiled in a tin or iron vessel, as the lace will then certainly be discoloured. Set the vessel over hot coals or in a stove; and keep it boiling regularly till the lace looks quite white. If very dirty, it will be necessary to change the water for a clean fresh suds. It may boil from an hour to an hour and a half; but take it out as soon as it looks clean and white. Then turn up the bottle to drain off the suds, and set it (without rinsing) in the sun. Keep it in the sun till the lace dries on the bottle. When quite dry, take it off; stretch or pull down each scollop separately with your thumb and finger; and then wind the lace evenly and smoothly on a ribbon-block of somewhat broader width. You can get ribbon-blocks at the stores where ribbons are sold, and you will find them very useful. Wrap the block with the lace on it in soft brown paper, and put it away till you want it for use. If you have no ribbon-block, fold or roll up a piece of smooth clean paper, and roll the lace round it. Never wrap any thing in printed paper.
The above method of cleaning thread lace, (without rubbing, squeezing, rinsing, starching, or ironing,) as it is the most simple and easy, is also the most certain success. In fact we can confidently assert that there is no other so good; and we only ask a trial of its efficacy; well-assured that every lady who has once had her lace washed in this manner will continue it; as it makes it it look always new. Of course, it should be done on a clear bright day, and the hotter the sun the better. If you have more than one lace bottle to boil, they may be put into a brass or bell-metal wash-kettie, (previously made very clean,) but remember that no tin or iron must be used for this purpose. If the coating or lining of an enamelled or porcelain kettle is the least cracked or scaled off, do not boil the lace in it, or it will be stained with iron mould.
Thread lace done exactly according to these directions, has the look, feel, transparency, and consistence of new lace that has never been washed at all; and may easily be mistaken for it. Drying in the soap-suds gives it just the right stiffness, and it will last much longer than if washed in the old manner with squeezing, rinsing, starching, clapping, and ironing.
Before your lace is sewed on the bottle, look over it, and see if it requires any mending. There is a lace-stitch done with very fine thread, that, when neatly executed, renders a mended place imperceptible. It may be learned in a few minutes by seeing it done, but cannot be described intelligibly. Those who have had no opportunity of learning this stitch may mend lace very neatly by darning it with the finest possible thread; taking care not to make the darn too thick, or close, but imitating as nearly as possible the open texture of the lace. In quilling or setting on the lace, endeavour to conceal the darns under the pleats.
Cotton lace cannot be cleaned in the foregoing manner, as it is too soft and fuzzy, and shrinks up too much. It requires squeezing, starching, clapping, and ironing.