Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vintage Dream

Since I was a little girl I have had dreams about finding secret closets in houses or compartments in attics that house vintage dresses all in my size. Last night I got as close to that as I ever have! My husband and I recently started the process of moving from our cluttered one-room apartment to an upper in a house built in the 1880s. We also get the entire attic to ourselves which runs the span of the house. Unfortunately there is quite a bit leftover from prior tenants up there and my niece and I decided to go through some dubious looking boxes last night before we threw them out "just to be sure."

Am I glad I did! I was able to find a few bags full of vintage clothing and linens that I may be able to save or repurpose, including 50s shirt dresses. Unfortunately they are all tiny, tiny sizes- so no luck with that part of my dream. Once I launder them and get them in wearable condition I will put them in my store and post about it here.

One item I will most likely not sell is an Art Deco drop-waist flapper dress made in peach chiffon crepe with a handkerchirf skirt trimmed in lace (similar to the middle dress in the picture). It has flutter sleeves which unfortunately are ripping in the armpits (one of the reasons I will probably keep it) and a side seam that is closed with snaps and hooks. There is no label, nor is there any indication there was one, so I believe this is a homemade dress, especially because much of it is hand-sewn. My goal is to restore it and frame to put in my sewing room. I am in the process of taking pictures and will post them as soon as I can.

Step one in restoration is washing it. The material is fragile, but it has a distinct odor and needs to be laundered. I actually think it would be worse to not wash it as whatever is on it is stiffening and breaking down the fibers of the material. I am still researching different laundering options, but my instinct is to handwash in room temperature water using a small amount of woolite (or silk detergent if I can get my hands on it). I don't trust a dry cleaner to be able to handle this dress, unless I took it to a specialist which I think may be a little overkill in this case. The dress is amazing, but not unique enough to warrant an excessive amount of money, plus my instincts tell me it isn't necessary.

If I try to handwash, I will use towels underneath the dress to lift it out of the water when washing and rinsing so I don't put excess strain on the material. I will also add a small amount of vinegar to the rinse water to neutralize any leftover soap. Then I will sandwich between two towels to roll out excess water and let dry flat on yet another towel. Once the dress is dry I plan to let it hang on a padded hanger to let it aerate and see what shape it is in. Hopefully this will be enough to soften up the fibers again and get the smell out. If not I will attempt a second washing with a little more detergent and a longer soak time. If this still doesn't work, I may stop here as I don't think the dress will survive an Oxyclean bath. I will try to post after each step to let you know if my instincts are correct :) Wish me luck!


Ms. B said...

Oh how exciting! I can't wait to see pics!!!

Adrienne Van said...

I've awarded you the Lovely Blog Award, check out mine for details!

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