Scarlette Saintclair

Tips for cleaning your vintage treasures!

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You found it!! Thrift store gold that incredible vintage dress you always have wanted and for a steal. Unfortunately it smells a bit and has some weird film on it you noticed once you got in the car and admired it properly! Well don't worry almost any fabric item with care and perseverance can be brought back to its wearable glory. The first step is a gentle wash bath. 

Generously fill either a large sink or a bathtub with lukewarm water.  The item must be able to be completely submerged. and ONLY ONE ITEM AT A TIME! You don't want any accidental color bleeds. Always start your by using the most gentle of products i.e. Woolite, Dreft, Dawn dish soap(works great to spot treat oil and grease stains) or even baking soda. You can work up to harsher products as you feel the item needs more severe treatment. Dissolve one of these products in a pot of hot water then add the completely dissolved solution to the bathtub. 

Lay the garment in the tub and pat it flat with your hands letting the solution run through the garment as it floats in the water.   NEVER AGITATE THE GARMENT.    Let it soak for about 15 to 30 minutes.  Let water out of the tub leaving the soapy garment in the tub.  Whatever the fibre, any wet garment will be much heavier, but wool will be much weaker wet than when dry, so handle it carefully when you lift it. 

The secret is a good rinsing.  Use the shower head attachment if your bath has one and spray rinse the garment moving the fabric folds gently if needed. Do make sure you do this stage thoroughly as you do not want to leave any residue in the garment. If the water running out of the rinse is discolored repeat the wash. I have on occasion had to wash an item multiple times.

 If the garment is wool use a plastic tray to slip under the sweater and support the now very heavy weight of it without causing it to stretch.  If it's cotton or linen move it into your clean bowl and let residual water drain away.  Wrap it carefully in a big bath towel and get rid of that excess water.  Use another bath towel if it helps get rid of more water.  

Once you have gotten most of the water blotted out of the garment use weight strong plastic hanger and let it drip dry over the bath. Be careful not to use a fancy padded hanger or a wooden hanger at this stage, which might transfer wood or dye stains to the item.   If the garment is unusually heavy, use a drying rack.

Okay so you washed it and it still smells a bit, usually the smell is either nicotine or mildew. Don't worry both issues can be tackled with white distilled vinegar. With Cotton or linen fabrics I will just soak in a vinegar and water solution. Other fabrics I spray the vinegar and water mixture 50/50 on with a spray bottle and let hang in the sun. This trick also works on handbags and suitcases. If you get a handbag or suitcase that has a strong odor inside, baking soda usually will do the trick. I coat the inside with baking soda and leave over night, after it has sat, vacuum out the baking soda.

Scarlette Storage tip     

I also keep a laundry dyer sheet in each of my handbags when not in use to keep them fresh smelling:)

Bringing new life to vintage underthings!!

Scarlette SaintclairComment

 As a pin up model we are always in need of  vintage or retro inspired under garments. There are some great companies making reproduction but it can be very pricey. So we search any where and everywhere for that perfect piece at a steal! For me garage sales and thrift stores are my favorite sometimes you can find something for under $5 other times I search ebay and etsy hoping to find something great and in my size. If you thrift at all your familiar with finding that vintage bullet shaped bra or a pretty slip that has seen better days, its yellowed with age or stained. Most people would just put it back or maybe take it home and try to clean it but you really can't bleach these old items with out the risk of destroying them. 

My trick

Idye poly, it is a fabric dye made specifically for dying nylon and polyester. Now there are a few things with vintage items you should know, the rubber on garters and the plastic hooks can only stand so much heat. So boiling your dye bath as directed on the package is not recommend!  Instead I fill my dye bucket with as hot as the sink will get tap water, the less water you use the brighter the color. Make sure to really stir your dye bath prior to immersing items otherwise you get streaks and blotchy spots and if you are looking to have matching set you need to put them in the dye bath at the same time. Keep in mind different fabrics will take the dye differently so they may not match perfectly but they will be close. Sometimes the lace will dye a bit darker since it usually has a bit of cotton blended into the fabric. This can make the pieces more interesting and they photograph beautifully. I will put the items in the dye bath and stir, making sure that they are saturated evenly with dye. I will leave them soak them 30 minutes then remove, rinse really well with cold water, then hang to dry. The results are amazing and its so simple to achieve pretty colored vintage lingerie to shoot in!!

 Scarlette  tip ~ always start with a light color, these items can get dyed again at a later date! I usually will do with a darker shade of the original color. Example an orange dye bath will usually give white pretties a pale shade of peachy orange, a second  bath will make for a brighter shade of orange, next time go with a red bath will give a gorgeous  copper red tone, then burgundy etc. 

Always remember that dyed items can bleed so washing them before wearing is usually a good idea. I will throw a freshly dyed item in the wash with an old towel or two to absorb some of the dye in the wash. I do not recommend wearing dyes lingerie under vintage dresses. If you sweat there could be some dye transfer and its just not worth the risk. Try this, I know you will not be disappointed! 


Tips for vintage shopping!

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Nothing makes me feel more like a lady then a pretty vintage dress! I'm always being asked "Scarlette where do you get your clothes?" 
Although I do have some reproduction in my closet, I truly prefer to wear and buy Vintage! I have a huge collection and adore each piece as they have a story. Someone loved it before me and I hope some one will love it after as well. Of course this creates a challenge as buying a vintage dress is not as easy as ordering your size and wearing it! Part of the thrill however is the hunt, I would say I spend 90% of my free time scouring the Internet and searching the racks at thrift stores. I also am a huge supporter of our local vintage clothing stores. The ladies that own these stores spend their days searching estate sales, thrifts and such to find beautiful vintage items to put in their stores. They take the time to clean them properly and sometimes mend any issues they may have. Those of you with less free time this is my suggestion! 

Before you start your hunt, either on the Internet or even in stores here are some tips on buying vintage! 
Know your measurements
It's very important to go by measurements when you're ordering vintage clothing as sizing is very different from the 40s to the 50s to 60s and even 70s as to what it is now. I currently wear a modern size 4 but in a vintage dress from the 40s or 50s I'm a 12 or of 14, yes that's right ladies its a huge difference!! 

How to measure yourself
I suggest having a friend help as it is hard to get a true measurement on yourself!! 
To get a true bust measurement, put on and unpadded bra that fits well. Measure from around the back of the bra strap across the top of your bust, where it sticks out the furthest from your body. This will give you an accurate measurement as to how much room you need in a blouse or dress in order to be comfortable. I always try to buy things that are an inch larger than my bust size so that I have room to move and so that it doesn't pull at the seams which can be unflattering. 
Waist measurements are taken at the natural waist this is the smallest portion around your midsection usually right around or right above the belly button. 
To get an accurate hip measurement for wiggle dress or a pair of pants you should measure around the hips and butt at the largest portion of your bottom. This is why the friend is handy! They tend to be truthful;) 
It's also nice to know your upper arm measurements as well as your neck measurement for anything that has a button back closure.

There are several local vintage dealers here in the Central Florida area to shop, it's nice to be able to try things on and get an idea for sizing of certain labels. Keep in mind that quite a bit of the vintage you come across are homemade items, so there a lot of times there are no tags this is when your dressmakers measuring tape comes in handy! I carry one in my purse so that I can measure anything I might find in the thrift store or vintage shop before even putting it on. Saves frustration and disappointment in the dressing room, also vintage dresses are fragile, shop owners will appreciate you not trying to force something that's not going to fit on your body.

Ok you found it the holy grail of vintage for your closet! And it doesn't quit fit, making your heart sink. Don't give up hope!! Most vintage items are easy to adjust a bit. Taking up or letting out to hem is always an option on the item that's too long or too short. Provided there's not a side zipper taking in the waist can be fairly simple on a dress or skirt. Most vintage skirts that I come across are 22 to a 24 inch waist, way too small for my 28 inches. However if the skirt is full, long enough and the pattern is consistent or it's solid, I have been known to buy it, take the waistband off and replace with a new larger one. Those novelty print skirts are hard to come by with out spending a small fortune so if I score a little one at a thrift store, I figure out how to make it fit!!

For more involved alterations a good seamstress may be required!! 
Adding a few special vintage items to your arsenal is fun, don't be afraid and enjoy the hunt!

A few of my favorite stores!
1231 A N Orange ave
Orlando FL 32804

Deja Vu Vintage 
1210 Michigan Ave
Winter Park, Fl 32789

Moxie Vintage 
114 Beach St
Daytona Beach Fl 32114