Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Practical Magic


Isn't nature amazing?  Jon snapped these magical 'shrooms we spotted growing next to the washing line this morning. Combined with the outfit I wore to go charity shopping today and some Picmonkey magic, it's all gone a bit trippy.


So that's the magic but where's the practical bit? I hear you ask. Well, as we had an amazing day trading in Cumbria on Sunday, we've been on a frantic buying mission to replenish the rails ready for our next vintage fairs. As I'm always being asked for advice on cleaning vintage I thought I'd share how I will be bringing our latest acquisitions back to life.


Firstly, you don't need to spend a fortune on fancy laundry stuff to look after your vintage clothes, I use soda crystals (1.5 kg for £1 from Wilko's), Oxi stain remover from Poundland and liquid hand soap (Lidl's is patchouli scented, subtle & gorgeous).  I do have a brand new weapon in my arsenal though, a 1979 Sisan handheld steamer I bought from last week's car boot for 50p and it's brilliant, especially on chiffon-y maxi dresses and coats.


This 1970s Wetherall of London reversible coat was a bit grubby. I slung it in the washing machine on a wool "hand wash only" cycle with a couple of squirts of liquid hand soap, followed it up with a long spin then shook it out and hung it to dry on a wooden coat hanger.


This 1940s moleskin waistcoat (no moles were harmed, it's just what they're known as) was hand washed in lukewarm water with a couple of squirts of liquid hand soap, rinsed and very, very lightly squeezed out (no wringing!). I hung it up on a wooden coat hanger in a warm room with a bath towel underneath to soak up the drips. I'll steam it when it's completely dry.


This pair of 1950s tailcoats will be steamed (inside and out) to freshen them up. The lapels on the one on the left are a bit shiny so I'll add some white vinegar to the steamer which should take the shine away. The lining on both had ripped in places which I hand sewed yesterday.


We got lucky today. Not one but five Harris Tweed jackets! I'll steam these to freshen them up.


I often buy tatty vintage clothes from jumble sales and car boots just to salvage the buttons. One of the jackets has naff plastic buttons and another has odd ones. I'll replace them with some proper leather "football" buttons from my stash.


This Maculette camel coat had a once over with the steamer (inside & out) and I'll resew the buttons as a couple are a bit loose.


Labelled "Dry Clean Only" I washed this 1960s John Fowler of Bangkok cotton kaftan at 30 degrees in the machine with a handful of soda crystals. The front panel is embellished with tiny shell beads which I unpicked before washing and replaced by hand last night.


Not sure what it is at the moment but I keep finding massive sleeved maxi dresses. This one is handmade with a psychedelic chiffon bodice and a green velvet skirt. Jon says I've got to keep it and I'm not going to argue. As it's already immaculately clean I'm just going to steam the skirt part using the nifty brush attachment to restore the pile. I do find that cotton velvet (as this is)washes really well, unlike the nasty modern synthetic stuff, so I usually chuck vintage velvet dresses and skirts into the machine (on a 30 degree cycle with soda crystals) and have never had any mishaps.


These 1940s & 1950s hats were held over the stream of a boiling kettle, gently bent back into shape and left to dry on these polystyrene heads.


These 1960s Fully Fashioned cardis are really popular with 1960s-loving chicks and look brilliant worn with super bright Crimplene shift dresses. I wash them at 30 degrees with some soda crystals and hang them up on coat hangers to dry. There's no need to iron them. A couple were missing buttons which I've replaced from my stash.


The 1950s Van Heusen dress shirt and pseudo-Victorian blouse were soaked in Oxyclean for 30 minutes prior to machine washing. Always wash your white clothes with other white clothes, it'll keep the colour pristine.


This 1930s smoking jacket went in the machine on a 30 degree cycle. The cuffs are quite tatty so I'll repair those by hand tonight.


I washed this angel sleeved maxi in the machine on, you guessed it, a 30 degree cycle.


After I'd steamed it I decided it looked a bit plain so I pimped it up with some 1960s metallic braid I bought from a car boot sale back in the Summer.


The 1950s Akco bow tie got a once over with the steamer.


This Italian-made silk blouson top will be hand-washed with some Lidl liquid soap and hung up to drip dry.

Wearing: 1960s velour psychedelic maxi dress (present from Sarah Misfit), a vintage Crimplene maxi coat with metallic trim (£1, Flea Market) , suede platform mid-calf boots by Jane Shilton (freebie from a car boot trader), Lamani coin belt worn as a pendant (India)
We're in Bath (HERE) and Bristol (HERE) this weekend so it's a busy week of shopping, washing and sewing. Car booting tomorrow? I live in hope.

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

See you soon.

96 comments:

  1. best care instructions for clothes ever!!!
    your new old steamer will be a great helper in your business! i - because i have the time - do hang the wrinkled or smellin clothes into the summer salon - under the tin roof shelterd from rain and birds but misty air and fresh wind can do their work.....
    and yes - wool cycle in a washing maschine is the best invention since the weel ;-)
    hugs! xxxxxx

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    1. We've got a little undercover area where we used to hang really musty old clothes to freshen them up a bit - the steamer seems to be doing the trick at the moment! xxx

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  2. I'd already seen the amazing 'shrooms on Facebook, but your outfit, with or without the Picmonkey magic is even more amazing. Thanks for all the tips, which I'm taking note of. That steamer looks like a handy thing, must look out for one. I am forever replacing ugly buttons too, and I often use my washing machine's wool cycle. Oh, and Jon is right: you should definitely keep that wonderful dress. It's so you! Good luck with the car booting tomorrow! xxx PS I thought I was the first to comment, but while I was typing, Beate beat me to it ...

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    1. Isn't it weird when you realise you'd typed a comment at exactly the same time as someone in another part of the world?
      Steamers - vintage or modern - are brilliant. Definitely worth a splurge if you don't get lucky in the flea market. xxx

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  3. Trippy, dippy, hippy in the most fabulous way!
    That kaftan & handmade velvet & floral maxi are too fab!
    Being a native Californicator I've never seen so much woolen clothing in one place in my life. Have seen plenty of 'shrooms though mannnnnn!

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    1. Trippy, dippy and Hippy. My three favourite looks, dear Bibi! xxx

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  4. Pinned that last image of you to my Color Two Snaps Up board!
    Thank you for the tips. I too have lots of buttons, some still on their original cards, for when I find those vintage pieces. But I have none of the luck that you do - I think there are too many CA vintage resellers snapping up the good stuff.

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    1. I'm honoured, Tami! I think we often get lucky because we're prepared to put some work in to restore old pieces, it's amazing how many re sellers can't sew! xxx

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  5. Great post! I don't know what we would do at the Time Bomb without our steamer. My secret is fels naptha soap and a toothbrush for getting out 50 year old gravy stains. Work from the back of the garment laid on a towel and push the stain out with the brush into the cloth beneath.

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    1. Yay, Tomye, great to hear from you! I've Googled Fels Naptha soap as I'v never heard of it before. I wonder if our old fashioned carbolic soap would have the same gravy busting effect? xxx

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  6. How many new eccentric clothing, you are the fairy vintage fashion! And those mushrooms ?! Fantastic !!! You are too strong and beautiful even in witch version!

    un bacio

    serena

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  7. You are the good fairy of fashion, bringing clothes back to life!
    x

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  8. I also find my steamer is easy to use and a quick way to ensure no unwanted bedbugs make it into my house with the treasures I've found.

    I've washed all kinds of things on delicate cycle with gentle soap and they turned out great...wool skirts...wool blazers...velvet coats.

    I hope you do keep that new maxi dress! Divine with your stunning blue eyes!

    You look groovy baby!

    Sending out lots of good shopping and selling vibes : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. I often wonder if the manufacturers of clothes were in cahoots with dry cleaning businesses, so much stuff is labelled Dry Clean Only when there's really no need! xxx

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  9. That dress and coat look fabulous on you xxx

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    1. Thank you! They always get loads of love from strangers when I wear them. xxx

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  10. Great tips Vix! I used to have a hand steamer and want to get one again, they are so useful. Love your dress and coat! :)

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  11. You must have the patience of a saint, Vix. Unpicking 'tiny shell beads' and resewing them? Amazing. I absolutely adored the green velvet skirted maxi dress - how did you get the sleeves to splay out like that? It will look wonderful on you. I also loved your maxi coat from a flea market.

    All the clothes look fabulous and I'm not surprised you sell so much - look at all the care and attention you give the garments.

    I thought the shrooms were freaky!!!

    Hope you have a great week

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. The 'shrooms are a bit odd, I keep going up the garden to take another look!
      All that sewing is terribly time consuming but so rewarding. I'd have hated to chance those shell beads going though the machine and losing the lot! xxx

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    2. PS Duct tape! that's the secret way of displaying my sleeves! x

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  12. Cosmic, man....I love that trippy frock you're wearing today. Great advice regarding washing and sprucing up vintage items, thanks to you I now buy soda crystals from Poundland. I bet your stock doesn't have that chazza shop whiff, a ghastly pong. I've no idea what it is but all items smell exactly the same, no matter where they're bought. (a poor man's Febreze? ..perhaps Curtise can enlighten us) Wishing you luck at the car boot tomorrow. x

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    1. God, that tropical flowers on acid stink is worse than fag smoke and BO, isn't it? xxx

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  13. Oh I love these posts. It's all very well finding the perfect vintage item but what a blow when you're unable to give it house room because it smells worse than a flatulent badger. I have an offender at the moment, done all the repairs, washed it and still it deserves an ASBO for the pong. *sucks teeth* Anyway, that moleskin waistcoat is a thing of great beauty and I'm proper envious of your steamer. Van Heusen used to be in Crewkerne, Somerset. My auntie worked there. Xxxx

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    1. Get yourself a misting spray, fill it with three parts water to one part vodka and give the offending garment a good squirt - if it doesn't work, drink and vodka and you won't care anyway! xxx

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  14. Love your purple coat, the gorgeous home made dress with velvet sleeves, and the Harris tweed jackets (in no particular order). You bring colour into our lives with all your photos of gorgeous clothes Vix! (I am currently commuting in to Canary Wharf for work - SO much grey pinstripe and boring suits, you would not believe. Fortunately this is a temporary affliction for me...)

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    1. Oh Maria, I feel your pain! I was at New Street Station a couple of months ago and was appalled by the endless crowds of commuters clad in deathly dull grey. Hope you get back to a world of colour very soon! xxx

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  15. Your job is definitely not an easy one, especially after all that cleaning and steaming and then having to sell it all! I agree with Jon, that dress is you (and blue too!)

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    1. Not easy but so rewarding. Nothing good ever comes easy! xxx

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  17. Fabulous blog post. Better than any magazine with all the fashion and washing tips. I'm loving those cardies.
    So glad you had a good day at Rhegged. We arrived home yesterday to find no electric, couldn't get in the garage and now the computer has malware and I'm panicking. So much for a lovely weekend :-( xx

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    1. What a disaster! i hope it's all sorted soon. Lovely to see you both on Sunday. xxx

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  18. Psychedelically scrumptious, Vix!!
    And of course I am watching the Soup Dragons "I'm Free" video!!
    xoxox

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  19. We have that exact steamer in red!! My husband found it in a bin apparently. Alas it recently broke, not sure what's wrong with it. Gutted. We use it a lot. I was very interested with all your cleaning tips, especially the vinegar in the steam to get rid of shine. I admit I chuck everything but the most delicate in the machine, it's got a gentle handwash cycle. Xx

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    1. I was a bit miffed that mine was white and not red, like the photos on the packaging. xxx

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  20. Great tips! It's really interesting to know how you clean your vintage! I've got one or two items I am going to try and sell on ebay I think (Frank Usher dress, Aquascutum skirt etc and that stripy dress) and I should try and give them a freshen up!

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    1. Yes, always nice to give them a wash before you stick them on eBay unless it involves using that hideous floral stuff (see my reply to Fiona's comment). I bought a dress from ebay the other day and had to quarantine it in the garden! xxx

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  21. Always fascinating to learn how you wash your vintage finds. I now use washing soda a lot and today told several people about it.

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    1. It's wonderful stuff and loads cheaper than traditional washing powder. xxx

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  22. Thanks for this, Vix - I learned a lot from your methodology! And hello to the delightful smoking jacket, and Italian silk blouse. xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Happy to be of service, dear Patti! xxx

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  23. It is so true. Buttons can truly affect the look of a garment. I'm forever changing buttons. Isn't that a song? So many lovely things, Vix. I can actually smell the fresh washed fragrance right through the computer. Oh those mushrooms! Yikes!

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    1. If it isn't a song already then it should be! xxx

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  24. You look incredible as always, that maxi coat is just perfect for you! And such amazing things you always find! I'm blown away at your patience to unpick and then hand sew all of those shell beads back on. I'd of said "sod it", thrown it in the machine beads intact and probably ruined it. I recently bought a steamer and I think it's the best household item I've got. I definitely need to look into soda crystals, I'm allergic to most fabric detergents so it could be a godsend.

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    1. Hello Freya! I'm glad you're a convert to the steamer, too. I can't tolerate artificial smells and soda crystals are a great way of adding freshness without the added stink! xxx

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  25. Magic mushrooms, psychedelic dresses... must be the time of the year or something...Thanks for yet another great post, Vix. I didn't know that you could remove shininess from lapels so easily. :) You are such an awesome person of perfection the way you look after your clothing stock, giving each piece new life, new meaning. xx

    https://fabulousageing.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. I'm not a fan of Autumn so psychedelic dresses cheer me up a lot! xxx

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  26. Jon was right for you to keep that dress, it's so you!

    I honestly have no idea how you're able to sell stuff so cheaply - not only is your stock great, but the care you put in to making it's in tip-top condition is really admirable. I look forward to having a good browse on Saturday - prepare for the Attack of Mim and Gisela!

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    1. I can't wait to see you both. Does Bath know you're coming, I can imagine you and G are going to take the town by storm! xxx

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  27. I am in awe of all your knowledge. I love reading all your tips and tricks. And, on top of that, you're wearing what is probably my favourite dress of yours. Love it!
    Zxx

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    1. Thanks, Z! It always makes me happy, too! xxx

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  28. Just discovered your blog! Very inspiring, will definitely come back! Thank you for sharing all these beauies!
    Love the flower crowns and your colorful maxi dress! <3

    have a good time
    Dana :)

    https://danalovesfashionandmusic.blogspot.de

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    1. Thanks for the visit, Dana! xxx

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  29. I feel the need to invest in a steamer now! Yes indeed we will be swinging by on Saturday :)

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  30. since I've been working in a costume shop (over 20 years) I've become fearless about what goes in the washer. We send a lot of pieces to be dry cleaned, but I'm always picking through the racks, pulling out things the student assigned to be dry cleaned. Sweaters? Hand or machine wash. Corsets? In the sink. Outerwear? Vodka/water spray. Wigs? Cheap one can be washed in mesh bags on cold/delicate. Air dry all this stuff. It saves money and dry cleaning uses a lot of chemicals.

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    1. Wigs? That's a new one, thank you! xxx

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  31. Oh my gosh! Where do I begin!?
    What awesome finds. I particularly like the moleskin waistcoat, such a gorgeous shade of red. I hope none of those mushrooms went into your soup o.O You look as lovely as ever. xx

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    1. Those wastcoats are so popular, especially with girls! xxx

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  32. Fab post about how you clean your clothes - some really helpful hints there. By the way, have you ever washed moss crepe? That 1930s smoking jacket is gorgeous, it would make a great summer coat. Love those psychedelic photos of you - very far out. You need some Syd Barrett playing in the background there! xxx

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it!
      I wash my Ossie moss crepe dress by hand in lukewarm water with some hand wash. I'll wring it out in a bath towel and let it drip dry. I haven't attempted the 1930s dress yet, luckily although a bit hole-y it's clean. xxx

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  33. Some mushrooms/toadstools appeared in my lawn today too. Your poor washing machine must be on overtime! The steamer should be a real boon. xx

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    1. It must be the magic mushroom time of year. They're amazing looking things, aren't thy? xxx

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  34. Hi Vix, what an interesting post, I've never used a steamer before and didn't know they were so handy in the vintage cleaning process.
    Oooh and I love when mushrooms pop up, they are so magical.
    That 1930s smoking jacket has a nice pattern, were they used to protect jackets from absorbing cigarette smells?
    I recognise that dress you're wearing from past posts, it's so fab. I loved reading Sarah Misfit's posts, but she hasn't posted for a while, has she? I wonder what she's up to :)

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    1. Hi Jess! Steamers are great for vintage, I try not to wash my own clothes too often so steaming freshens them up a treat! xxx

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  35. That is good to know about using vinegar in a steamer to take away shine. I've had good luck washing wool coats and hanging them to dry over a tub.

    I'd fight you for the purple coat.

    Happy trading this weekend-wish I could be there.

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    1. I wish you could be there, too! xxx

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  36. It's clear that you put a lot of care and effort into making your stock the very best it can be. It sounds very time consuming, but I guess if you love it, it doesn't feel like work.

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    1. Time consuming but ultimately very rewarding! x

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  37. Wonderful tutorial. I'm always open to new ways to clean vintage, and I consider you the expert. Your maxi dress and coat are beyond fabulous. Wishing you the best at your upcoming vintage fairs!

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  38. thank you for sharing your tips for taking care of vintage clothes. I have a fair amount of inherited (vintage) clothes and I'm always looking for ways to take better care of it because I want to be able to pass it on some day...

    That vintage steamer looks amazing...I need a new iron, I hope I'll find something as cool as that.

    I know what you mean by buying vintage for the sakes of buttons...often it is worth it. There are some gorgeous buttons to be found on vintage items.

    cool photo of mushrooms and you look fantastic in that maxi dress...very hippie look.

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    1. Hello Ivana! Steamers really are a great investment, they freshen things up no end! xxx

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  39. great cleaning/care advice! thanks. I love the green velvet dress which reminded me of my first grown up dress a very dark green velvet with embroidered front I purchased at a jumble sale age 14, had I been armed with your washing instructions back then I could have got those annoying (previous owner) shiny patches under the arms eradicated and would not have had to always pin my arms to my sides like a penguin when I wore it!! I think you have a virtual forest of mushrooms going on there - very magic!

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    1. Goodness knows what they used to put in vintage deodorants, the state of some of the vintage clothes I come across are shocking! xxx

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  40. Lots of great tips, I love the handwash cycle on my machine. That crimplene coat is just gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, Tanya! No need to spend a fortune on having stuff professionally cleaned. xxx

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  41. Love this informative post! As a collector of vintage scarves I'm often hand washing, however I'd never thought of using liquid hand soap. Not only will that be gentler on my hands and on the delicate fabrics than regular liquid laundry detergent, but they will end up smelling much nicer. I mean, there's only so much of that synthetic Spring Breeze scent one can take!

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    1. Oh yeah, it's cheaper, smells so much nicer and doesn't dry your skin either, definitely worth a try. xxx

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  42. Oh my the Harris Tweed jackets, I love them! I'm obsessed with tweed. Love, Kirsten x

    www.thelifbissue.com

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    1. Hi Kirsten. Harris Tweed really is a lovely thing! x

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  43. Great post. I never quite understand those people who spend half their life in the dry cleaners. xx

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    1. Thank you! Yes, dry cleaning is very hit and miss and it's not great for the environment either. x

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  44. Oh those Fully Fashioned cardies are fab! If you ever have any in my size let me know. Great tips on cleaning too, I've always been a bit scared to wash my vintage velvet but might give it a go now using soda crystals! x

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    1. I'll keep my eyes peeled for tiny cardis, they're getting harder and harder to find these days! Have a fab weekend. xxx

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  46. Wow, Vix you look fabulous. I love that dress and coat combo. Thank for all the tips on cleaning vintage. It is always a bit hit or miss for me when I come to cleaning things as I have had a couple of things disintegrate but they were so filthy that they couldn't have been worn without a good wash so no real loss. I bought a lovely 40's fur coat for the winter and am going to have a go at cleaning that myself as they quoted £150 to do it in the cleaner's. Cheap vodka and some essential oils should do the trick. :) Xx

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    1. Thank you, Kelly! £150?! Goodness me, even the poshest vodka in the supermarket wouldn't set you back that much. xxx

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  47. Those cardigans give me flashbacks to my nan! I have a cardigan and a jumper which were hers xxx

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    1. They're fab, aren't they? They appeal to all ages! xxx

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  48. I think soda crystals must be a British thing - I've never seen such a thing here. Steamers are the most wonderful thing for freshening vintage clothing. I had purchased one secondhand but it died shortly afterward; I would love to find a handheld one like yours. You have the patience of a saint to take all those tiny shells off the caftan and sew them all back on!

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    1. I've explored the net and I think its called sodium carbonate in Canada, I think Arm & Hammer make it.
      Sometimes I find hand sewing quite therapeutic, today I hate it. Other than a brief respite to trawl the chazzas I've been replacing zips, turning up hems and darning things since 7am this morning! xxx

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