Vintage is many things. On one side we love vintage because it’s unique, more flattering and of better quality than the majority of contemporary clothing on the store racks today. However, vintage isn’t without its problems. How many of us have suffered a stain or tear or lost a tap? Part of wearing vintage is maintaining your clothing to continue their longevity. So here are a few tips to help you keep that fantastic closet of yours looking good for years to come.
When vintage is all you own, traveling can be a bit of a burden in a way. Between getting folds in garments, worrying about damage on the road, not to mention all of the other travel anxieties, it can get a little hectic.
I travel using vintage luggage. This is for a handful of reasons. First they look awesome. Secondly, if you are flying and you check your luggage, your suitcase will be much easier to spot when it comes out onto the carousel. Additionally, hard suitcases prevent any extra pressure put on your clothes (causing more wrinkling) by other people’s bags being placed on top of your suitcases in travel. And if you’re fearful of bed bugs, you really may want to travel with a vintage suitcase. Bed bugs may find a new home for themselves (and thus possibly follow you home) in the crevasses of an upholstered suitcase, where as they will not with a hard suitcase. I currently own a medium sized suitcase (which fits the carry-on size restrictions), a small day suitcase, a round hatbox and a train case. However, for most trips I only take the medium sized suitcase and the train case.
Lately it seems the price tag stickers from thrift stores have become, well, more sticky, leaving behind annoying sticky goo after removing the price tag. So, I’m here to tell you how to quickly remove such annoying goo with one of my favorite products: WD-40.
I learned about WD-40 from my dad, who, like many gearheads, used it on old cars. It acts as a lubricant and loosens up nearly anything that has rust on it, but it can also be used to remove annoy adhesive residue left behind from stickers. WD-40 can be found in the automotive aisle at stores. I have used WD-40 on paper items, such as record sleeves and comic books, however it has left behind faint oil like stains on occasion. I have not used it on clothing (that is to say dresses, skirts, etc. but it works wonders on shoes, purses, and other accessories).
You Will Need
-An item with a sticker on it
-A can of WD-40
Peel off the sticker. If the sticker is super stubborn, you can spray WD-40 directly on the sticker and it will slowly eat away at the adhesive, then lift it up.
Spray WD-40 onto a rag. You can spray directly on the spot where the sticker was, however that can result in getting WD-40 all over your item. Spraying on a rag creates more control.
Rub the sticky spot with the area of the rag that you sprayed with WD-40. This lifts up and removes the sticky residue.
Wipe down the area with a clean part of your rag, then rub your fingers over the area to make sure you removed all the stickiness. WD-40 feels oily (it contains petroleum distillates) so it is very important to really wipe it away after you have cleaned the area for a satisfying feel. If you haven’t removed all the stickiness, repeat steps two and three.
And there you have it! A clean, non-sticky surface!
Well, it’s that time again. It’s the time when all the wonder and sparkle of the holiday season gets tucked back into boxes and stored away. And when you decorate with vintage items, packing is a very important thing to do right. Ceramics need to be bundled up with tissue paper and bubble wrap and then tucked into a solid plastic tub. Yes, plastic, not cardboard. Cardboard boxes, while they may be free if you reuse that box from your new toaster, they do not hold up well over time and can easily collapse. I highly recommend purchasing large plastic tubs with lids. But what I really want to offer to you today is the proper care and maintenance of aluminum trees.
A few weeks ago, Patrick and I wanted to go on a picnic, but realized we had no picnic basket. (*GASP!*) Since summer was coming to a close, few stores had any in stock, so we went to Goodwill. We found a $3.99 picnic basket with the emblem for the Multnomah Athletic Club screen printed on the lid…nothing a little sand paper won’t get rid of…and I saw it as a bright new project.
I started by taking some 100 grit sand paper to the image. Boy, did that take longer than expected…about a half hour later, the image was nearly gone. I then decided that I wanted a pin-up design on the lid, and what better than a pin-up on a picnic? I used Elvgren’s 1966 Red, White, and Blue for inspiration. A sketch onto the top and a little paint later, and I had my one of a kind picnic basket!
Sadly, I’m not entirely happy with it, but I’ve never been a big painter when it comes to making things that look realistic – I’ll take a pen or a pencil over paint any day! But paint is what was needed to get the job done here.
Have you ever been out shopping and wondered if an item you were looking at was vintage or is there something in your closet that has you curious? Well, here are a few useful tips and tricks to help you out next time or to help you with that mystery item hanging up!
Over the past few decades ladies’ fashion has been flooded what is called “vanity sizing”. This is the process to make women feel slimmer and that has created the double zero and the negative sizes that now exist. However, when shopping for vintage, don’t be shocked when a size 10 or 14 fits you! How is that possible…take these two case studies:
Please notice, that both of these dresses have a 28 inch (14 x 2) waist as you can see with the tape measure. The dress on the left is a new dress, with a size 4 tag, however the vintage dress on the right is a size 10.
Today, most zippers, except for the pull tab, are made of plastic and the teeth are very small. Additionally, the pulls are often eye-shaped or extremely thin. This is not the case with vintage.
On the new dress up top, the zipper is made of plastic (often the plastic is the same color as the dress) and the teeth are small. On the vintage dress, it is a full metal zipper, with a flat, larger pull and larger teeth. Additionally, the zipper has been painted to match the color of the dress. You will notice paint chips on vintage clothing from the piece being worn.
Fabric is also very important. Most 1940s and 50s items are made or rayon, cotton, wool or linen. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that polyester became common. Additionally, if a dress has a lot of spring in the fabric it is in all likelihood that it is new. Spandex was not invented until 1959 and was not commonly used until the 1970s when the disco and hot pants craze hit. Additionally, elastic was not often used in waists. You’ll find a handful of 1960s and 70s dresses with elastic, but usually elastic waists means it is from the 80s or later.
Labels & Where It Was Made
Most vintage labels are stitched, and not screen printed. Additionally, size labels are often paper. Although, you will notice that expensive brands today still use stitched labels. Most of America’s clothing in the mid-20th century was made right here, in America. So a “Made in the U.S.A.” label is wonderful to have. Additionally, a “Made in China/Philippines/Mexico/etc.” label is usually a dead giveaway that the item is new. While there are some vintage items made in China, however these items did not read “China” but instead “Hong Kong” or “The British Republic of Hong Kong”. Even better to help in dating an item is an International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union label. If you have a piece with such a label, check out this useful guide by an eBay’er.
I hope this was of use!
What a week it’s been. I had several papers due, and have been packing a bit. Only 15 more days until graduation! Meanwhile, last week I purchased a vintage sofa from Joe Klem in Coburg, and boy was it dusty and dirty! It certainly needed some TLC, and I was more than willing. So this is how I spent my Saturday!
See what I had to start with? Seems a bit horrifying? It’s really not. And here’s why and how you can do it too next time you find something just as dirty! First off, if you have an air compressor, get that sucker out and shoot air all over the piece.It’ll blow a lot of the dirt that is just sitting on top off. Then, get a stick of some sort (we had some PVC pipe on hand) and beat the cushions. It’ll lift a lot of the dirt out. Then vacuum! And I mean vacuum! Do it a couple of times. Note: a Shop-Vac is a much better vacuum to use, however ours was currently loaned to a friend.
Next get yourself some Tuff Stuff. Seriously. This spray on cleansing foam works miracles! Spray the Tuff Stuff on, then get a bucket of water and a rag, get the rag wet, ring it out, and scrub the area you Tuff Stuff’ed. Do this all over the upholstery, continually rinsing your rag. When it gets difficult to see the bottom of the bucket, it’s time to change the water.
Once you’ve got it all clean, and you should be able to feel the difference, take a good look at it. For this piece, it had a bad wear mark on the corner, which is really common…So, what did we do? We took a green Sharpie to it. I put on a few lines, then my dad took a damp rag and wiped it.
And just a few hours later we finished! I must say, I’m rather proud of the piece.I really enjoy working on vintage furniture. There is something about taking an old, forgotten piece, turning it around and making it shine, whether it’s a piece like this, or stripping and refinishing a piece of Hey-Wake. As for the buttons, half were missing, and I really wanted to break up the green, so we bought some tan fabric (at EconoSales!), and am having Joe make ‘em. Then I’m making panel insets of the same fabric to go along the edge of the arms. I can’t wait to get this into our new place in Portland!
Follow the jump-cut for a quick step-by-step and materials list.