Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It's finally started to get chilly here in Savannah, chilly enough for me to pull out my winter coat.  This and my recent post on Pendleton Woolen Mills, plus a recent addition of numerous wool items into the shop the past month inspired me to do a little post on wool and how to properly care for it.

I always say vintage is a learning process, and I have ruined a handful of items in my pursuit to clean them, mainly because I think I know what I'm doing when I really don't have a clue.  My biggest upset was trying to spot clean a wool sweater once and ending up with a lot larger of a spot than I started up with because I ruined the fibers.

After I ruined this piece, I looked up the proper way to clean it.  Yup, after.  Because that's how I am.

Wool is one of the most versitile natural fibers in fabric production.  It can be spun with a number of different fibers, such as cotton and polyster, and acts as an insulator, keeping warm in the winter and cold in the summer, making it a fabric for all year.  Also, wool is a natural flame retardant, can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water without feeling wet, and can easily be dyed or tailored, making wool highly desirable in the world of fashion.  Because wool is woven from natural fibers, it can be made into different weaves, but requires special care and storage.

There are two major types of wool weaves, worsted and woolen. The main difference between the two is based on how tightly the wool is twisted. Worsted wool is created by combing and twisting the wool into very tight yarns to ensure a smooth and relatively fuzz-free texture, while woolen wool is spun from varying length fibers that are untangled and lined up and spun into yarns with low to medium twists. The result is soft and textured with a fuzzy and warm look and feel. Worsted wool is perfect for wear in spring and summer due to its lighter feel and is generally created into gabardine, lightweight wool suitings, and wool challis. Woolen fabrics are preferred for the colder months and are used for soft-knits, flannels, tweed, and coating fabrics.

Wool is pretty low maintenance when it comes to care as it is generally only needed to be cleaned once or twice a year. If the garment becomes soiled, it is best to get it cleaned within one to two days of the incident by the preferred method of cleaning, generally dry cleaning. In the meantime, it is just important to store your wool clothes is closet with plenty of space and air for the fabric to breath. When hanging, put coats and suits on shaped hangers and blouses and dresses on padded hangers. Make sure to zip up and fasten any buttons to help keep the garment's shape. If folding wool sweaters, blouses, or dresses, make sure to put tissue paper between the folds to help avoid creases.

Even though the way wool is created makes it naturally resistant to wrinkles, creases and some wrinkles from wear do need to be assed periodically. When this happens, it is best to use a throroughly heated iron set on the steam heat setting for wool. Never use it on dry. Press as much as possible on the inside of the garment, but if one must move to the outside, make sure to put a press cloth or a white handkerchief between the iron and the fabric to keep from any press or shine marks. Worsted fabrics should only ever be pressed, while woolen fabrics should be steamed since they have more texture. 

Wool is very succeptible to bugs who find it to be very tasty. When storing a wool garment it is very important to make sure it is cleaned, the same goes for any other garments you might be storing with it, as food stains and invisible body odors attract moths. Dry cleaning kills moth eggs and larvae that may be residing on your clothing; brushing wool can also help get rid of this problem.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

No comments: