Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Life Is A Lot Like Jazz

It's best when you improvise.
-George Gershwin , American composer

I have two OLFA self-healing cutting mats used for sewing (one 24" by 36" and one 18" by 36") and I just found out they should be cleaned. The way you do it is by placing the mats in a bathtub and adding  one gallon of cool water to 1/4 cup of white vinegar and soaking them 15-20 minutes.  Then you squirt some dish soap on a mushroom brush and gently scrub to remove any fibers that have gotten into the cut marks. Having fabric fibers in the cut lines prevents the mats from repairing themselves.  Also the mats need moisture to work correctly so soaking them extends their life.

This sounded pretty simple to me until I tried to put the mats in each one of the three bathtubs I have in my house.  The mats are too big and could not be laid flat so I had to improvise.  I asked my husband to make me a frame out of pieces of lumber so I could line it with a plastic garbage bag and he came up with this:

I like the way he used hand weights to keep the boards from shifting.  I then filled the tiny swimming pool with water and vinegar and slid the mats in.  After 20 minutes I removed the weight and the piece of wood from the top side of the pool and let the water drain.  Then I picked up my mushroom brush, squirted on some dish soap and scrubbed the mats clean.   I rinsed each one with the garden hose and wiped them dry with some old bath towels.  The mats are in better shape than before their bath but some of the cuts didn't heal and I think that is because I haven't been rotating the mats enough and I waited too long before giving them a vinegar bath and a mushroom brush scrub.  Now that I know cleaning them extends their life, I will be doing so regularly.


Blue Witch said...

Excellent impovisation there!

Do you have a link to that advice, please? I've not heard it before and am intersted.

I decided to buy cheap self-healing mats, and replace when needed, rather than the more expensive ones. I'm still on my first one, ten (plus?) years on! But, I do always run my finger over any cuts with fluff, before putting the mats away, and I never cut wadding on them (too fluffy).

Will be interested to hear how your mat now performs, over time.

la peregrina said...

Good to hear your mat has lasted ten years so far. I was worried about mine since I kept reading blog posts written by people who said the have to replace theirs mats pretty frequently. Maybe they are quilters and do a lot of cutting?

I leave my mats on my cutting table and give them a brushing with a soft brush at the end of each sewing session to pick-up all the stray bits of fiber. Maybe this is why mine seems to be in excellent shape?

I bought OLFA mats after a friend recommended them. She also told me to wait to buy mine until Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts put them on sale at 60% off, which I did. Hugh saving.

Finally, here is one of the blog posts I found about cleaning the mats: