vintage fabrics 101
It’s no secret that vintage clothing was often manufactured using much higher quality materials than those we find on the High Street today. How else would these items have lasted so long and so well? If you’re investing in a vintage wardrobe it’s important to know how to look after these fabrics so you can ensure your favourite finds live on another 50 years.
We’ve compiled a list of the most popular vintage fabrics, with cleaning and care advice to help you take care of your vintage clothing collection. Let’s get started, shall we?
This natural fibre is luxurious, elegant and extremely high quality. It is often used in dresses and blouses and is a popular choice for extra special items such as wedding gowns. Smooth, soft and floaty, silk hangs beautifully.
Due to the delicate nature of silk, dry cleaning is strongly recommended. You can also hand wash in cool water with a gentle detergent designed specifically for silk. Do not rub stains or spot clean as this can leave permanent marks. Hang or dry flat and iron on cool.
Another natural fibre, wool is a warm, insulated weave. It is often used in cardigans, jumpers, coats and suits. Wool items are highly sought after for their quality and longevity.
As with silk, wool should be dry cleaned or hand washed. Use cool water as hot water will cause shrinking. If you have a washing machine with a wool setting, you can use this with gentle wool detergent. Do not iron.
A very popular fabric made from the cotton plant. It is a very lightweight but durable fibre, ideal in summer as it allows the skin to breathe.
Cotton is easy to wear and easy to care for; machine wash and iron on cool.
Nylon is a synthetic material with a smooth, silky quality. It is extremely hardwearing and durable, which is why it’s often used in raincoats, swimwear and sports gear. Nylon was first used to create women’s stockings in 1940 and then went on to be used in many other types of apparel.
Nylon fabric is often dyed so wash at a cool temperature with similar colours to prevent fading or transference of dye.
Rayon is the name of a family of semisynthetic materials. It is a comfortable fabric which can be made to imitate the texture of more expensive textiles such as silk, wool and linen. Versatile and practical, rayon is used in a wide range of clothing.
Follow care instructions as per the label or dry clean.
Another extremely practical material, polyester is unlikely to shrink or stretch and is easy to care for. Clothing made from polyester can be machine washed on warm. Polyester dries quickly and is wrinkle-resistant, retaining heatset pleats and creases. Popular uses include shirts, trousers and jackets.
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