Thursday, August 17, 2017

restoring vintage garments


I have always loved vintage baby garments. They have a special charm about them that just draws me in. Often times I find myself wasting spending hours of a day seeking them out online, at estate sales or at vintage venues! I recently came across a couple precious dresses that were old, dingy, stained and not so pretty on the surface. Most people would probably just pass these by, but my eye sees them in a much different view. I see the beauty beneath all that dirt and dinginess. It is in that view that I can find potential to restore it to back as close to it's original condition as possible. It's a challenge, and challenges are what seems to be my lot in life!
dingy, dirty, stained, wrinkled - you name it!
I think the backs were nastier than the front!
There is so much beauty beneath the dirt!
the soft pink one is all completely hand stitched 

The first thing I do is soak the garment in the sink with warm water and add Restoration Hypoallergenic Powder, which I highly recommend. 


  • Restoration is excellent for antique fabrics. Use as a bleach substitute.
  • Great for doilies, laces, Victorian clothing, wedding and christening gowns.
  • Removes coffee, tea, blood, grape juice, ketchup and other hard to remove stains from the most delicate fabrics.
  • Removes yellowing caused by water damage, age, UV rays and even discolored fold lines!
After an hour or so, I drain out the water (which usually turns yellow immediately) and rinse and refill the sink again, adding Restoration Powder again. Depending on how stained and dirty the garments are, I might let them soak for a couple days, changing out the water several times. Once they are clean, rinse really good and then hand-wash with a mild detergent and hang dry. 

And now for the stellar results!
This dress cleaned up so good that it amazed me - it even brought back the fabric sheen! 
perfect condition - nearly like new!
The yoke and collar of this dress has me swooning!
 I gotta say, this blue one has me head over heels! It is now nicely stored away in my hopeing-for-a-grand-daughter-someday-stash!

This dress was so dirty it didn't even look pink anymore
All the tucks, seams and embroidery is done by hand
I could not see anything on this dress that would have been machine done!
Even the scallops appear to be handmade!
Occasionally there is repair work that needs to be done. It is never ok to repair by machine when the entire piece was handmade. You should always do repairs by hand if the garment was made by hand.
For example, I had another vintage dress I purchased that needed repair work. Now, I will be the first person to raise my hand that I despise repair jobs and alterations, however, when it is a vintage piece that I am challenged to restore, I change my tune a bit and try to do the repair so that it appears that it never was repaired.
At some point and time the sleeve on this dress had been pulled nearly off. The repair work had been repaired quickly and very poorly, leaving puckers. This is another handmade dress, so the sleeves were attached by hand and french seamed, so I actually had two seams to repair to get it back to a french seam.

The back of the dress had some of the same issues - the gathered skirt had been completely pulled away from the back yoke and quickly re-attached with needle and thread. I removed all the repair stitched and, once again repaired a french seam to restore to original condition.
This is another delightful vintage dress!




All, but the blue dress, are available for purchase! Please email me or follow me on Instagram as I post many of my vintage finds that are available for purchase!










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2 comments:

janie said...

Im in awe! Where do i buy this magic powder? You do such beautiful work and i really appreciate everything you post on your blog and instagram!

Regine Karpel said...

Love.

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