Vintage Clothing Care Tips!
"I LOVE my new vintage piece!! But how do I take care of it?"
Congratulations on your new (old?) acquisition! I hope you enjoy it for many years. Remember, somebody took care of these items for 40-50 years or more, so you are now the caretaker of the treasure! It's a responsibility that I don't take lightly and I hope if you choose to buy a piece, you'll care enough to take proper care of it too!
Coats and Jackets:
Coats and jackets/suits should be kept dust-free...but NOT in a plastic bag! Wool and other natural fabrics have to breathe and are best kept in fabric dress-bags. Never put them away with a spot on them...have it taken care of by a reputable dry-cleaner immediately and be sure to impress upon him that this is a vintage piece and must be handled separately by hand, no combining them with other pieces.
Throw in some lavender and herb (rosemary and mint) sachets, which are a natural insect repellant. I recommend "Mothaway". These are available at bedding and linen stores in the closet care section and are wonderful because they will not make your item smell hideous like mothballs! Camphor smells will NOT come out with dry cleaning, which is why I will not sell you something that smells like that.
If your piece has a fur collar, I recommend taking it to the furrier every other year to condition it. This will keep it from drying out. Also, every now and then, take it out and shake it out to fluff up the fur.
As a really special precaution against matting of fur collars, I wad up some tissue paper and place it on the tops of the shoulders before carefully placing the cloth dress bag over the item. This will hold the bag away from the shoulders, and prevent the weight of the dress bag from pressing down on the fur collar. True, this is not something you will want to do with all your clothing, but if you care enough about your special piece with a fur collar, you will take a few minutes to do this.
My experience has shown me that if you keep something in a bag that presses on it long enough, you will have a crushed collar. We don't want any tears, so go get that tissue paper!
CLEANING: Beaded sweaters, contrary to popular belief, are hand-washable. UNLESS they happen to have a crepe lining! Most will have a silky nylon lining and are washable. Crepe is that slightly rough fabric with a little give to it...and if you wet it, it will instantly shrink into itself and pull the sweater into a tiny ball! Ack! Can you tell this has happened to DivaSharon? LOL And so, you may ask, what did I do? Sigh. I taught myself to re-line a sweater, that's what I did! A labor of love and pain, for sure! You don't want to deal with that, so take care to notice what type of lining you have. For that reason, I also try to only offer sweaters with a washable lining. See, I want you all to benefit from my misfortune! LOL
You may use Woolite or any good sweater wash. There are also special washes for vintage clothing, which you can find on the internet or in antique malls.
Keep your sweater in a cedar chest or other drawer with those herbal insect repellant sachets I mentioned above. Just tuck one or two into the neck of the sweater. To fold, close all hooks or buttons and lay the sweater face down. Place tissue paper on the back of the sweater to cushion the folds and minimize fold marks. Fold the arms in as you normally would and fold the sweater in half. If you have lots of tissue, you can put an extra sheet on the back before the folding in half part. Then lay in the drawer beaded side up.
After each wearing, lay the sweater on a table or bed and inspect carefully: remove any pilling under the arms by pulling them off gently. NO SWEATER SHAVERS!!! Not unless you want a hole in your sweater. Loose beading is easily remedied by one of two methods: reach inside the lining at the armhole and locate the inside thread corresponding to the loose beads. Then GENTLY pull the thread further inside to tighten up the beading. This may have to be done from time to time. As you may see if you really look, the beading is all done with a CONTINUOUS thread, so do NOT cut any! Not unless you relish the idea of chasing beads all over the floor. Now that's a sight I hope never to see! Eeek!
If you find a broken or loose thread with loose beading that is in danger of falling off, it is SO easy to fix by the second method. Thread a needle in the appropriate color (don't be lazy and use whatever's in the needle!). Take a stitch from the inside to the outside right next to the loose thread. Holding the loose thread in one hand, cross it with the new thread that's on your needle and tie them gently together. Don't pull hard or you will pull the beading too tight. You just want to renew the broken thread and seal it off. Tie it once more and knot it. Cut off the short original thread, put the needle through the sweater to the inside; weave the needle and thread in a couple of existing threads and cut your new thread, leaving a little extra. It takes longer to write it than to do it! Easy as pie, honest!
Mending a moth hole: Using a SINGLE thread and a very fine needle (beading needles are best for the most invisible mend), take a stitch next to the hole. Don't knot the thread, but leave a little tail for cutting later. Pick up a stitch and try to go around the hole, encircling the opening, picking up the loose stitches as you go. Gently pull together when you have picked up most of the stitches. This should draw the hole together in a circle, NOT a straight line, which would look funny. Remember, when mending a hole, less is better, so as to attract as little attention as possible. You don't want too many stitches and knots, resulting in a noticeable lump on the sweater. I recommend NOT knotting the end, just putting the needle to the inside of the sweater and cutting, leaving a tail, as you did in the beginning. You will now have closed the hole and have two little tails of thread on the inside of the mend. Only pull enough to close the hole and make no knots and you will have a nearly invisible mend! And remember, if you pull too hard, removing it, should you want to do it over, will be nearly impossible, so do it lightly!
Do these things and you will keep that sweater looking as terrific as the day you fell in love with it! It's worth it!
Care of your vintage fur is easy. NO plastic, NO cedar! Take it to a furrier and have it cleaned and glazed initially, stored every year and then conditioned yearly. Cleaning is only necessary every OTHER year. Conditioning is like moisturizing your skin. Imagine how you'd look and feel if you skipped the moisturizer! Furs are no different.
When kept at home, if you cannot keep it in cold storage, hang your fur in a closet on a JUMBO padded hanger (available at bedding stores near those lavender sachets) and be sure to give it room on both sides. No jamming it next to other items or you will have a smooshed fur.
Basically, that's it! If your fur is in good supple condition when you acquire it, it's still worth taking care of, so at the very least, have it cleaned and conditioned as mentioned above. You will want to have your new fur with you for many years! Nobody likes a mummified fuzzy! er...a fuzzy mummy? Well, nobody likes it! Feh.
Hats, Purses and Accessories:
In a nutshell, the goal is "no dust"! Keep hats in hatboxes, which are available at many home decorating stores. If they do become dusty, use a soft brass bristle brush on them. The best one, just like they made in the old days, is available from The Vermont Country Store. Amazingly, it's better at removing dust and lint than all the new-fangled ones we have today! Gee, I wonder why that doesn't surprise me? LOL
Keep compacts wrapped in tissue or in little jewelry bags to protect from dust. Same for any of the vanity items, unless you display them. Then just dust as you would anything you keep on your dresser. Not much trouble.
Purses should be kept in fabric bags, the way the fine purses are sold today. Leather and even vinyl, should be able to breath...keeping them in plastic will dry them out and cause them to crack. Then you would be sad. And so would I.
Lesson: Plastic is a wonderful invention, but not for vintage things!
Well, that's pretty much all! If you have any questions that I haven't answered here, please don't hesitate to email me and I will give you all the help and information I can! After the sale, I'm still here!