Caring For Vintage Cushion Fabrics

Ella and I have a new garden bench and it’s become our favourite place to sit.

I drag out a blanket and cushions and lie with my legs dangling over an arm rest as I proofread pages. Ella keeps a keen eye on the comings and goings of local wildlife. It’s pretty blissful for a small London garden that’s fast becoming a meadow!

But I noticed that one of my barkcloth cushions was starting to fade. This is ‘Ella’s cushion’ (I know, I know…) and gets left out in direct sunlight more often than the larger cushion. Maybe you can spot the fading below.

I made these cushions back in 2013, with vintage barkcloth bought from the Isle of Wight. I’m ever so fond of them. I find that home dec sewing or making blinds can be a bit of a bore, but then you end up with items you passionately love. Odd.

I was taken aback to see that I’d unwittingly damaged one of the cushions. It hadn’t occurred to me that vintage fabric would be this susceptible to sunlight, but I guess I was being naive.

So, save yourself heartache. Here are some tips for vintage fabric care.


Gentle hand washing is best. Readers have recommended Eucalan to me. Test a small piece for colour fastness first.

And talking of wet cleaning – you can avoid it. Your fabric shouldn’t go into the wash too often. A vacuum cleaner nozzle can remove a lot of dirt!

Roll, Not Fold. If storing fabric, roll it in a sausage shape. Creases can fade or stress fibres.

Use lavender as a moth deterrent. You could make your own lavender bags.

Maybe don’t talk your cushions down to the beach or toss them onto the lawn. Think about how you’re using them.

But mainly, I guess, we should remember to enjoy our vintage fabric. Perhaps I’m being too precious. What do you think? And do you have any tips?

If you’re looking for your own barkcloth supplies, visit eBay, Etsy, or even some of the modern productions such as this beaut from The Village Haberdashery. Or do what I recently did, and rescue it from a house renovation!

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