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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wearing a Vintage Wedding Gown

Did you hear about the bride, Abby Curtis that was the 11th bride in her family to wear a lacy Victorian 120 year old couture wedding gown on her wedding day?  It was originally her great-great grandmother’s dress, dating back to 1895.  Talk about some fantastic preservation work.  But she did go on to say, that because of its fragility, she only wore it for the cocktail party and to sign her official marriage license.  I cannot imagine how cool it would be to wear something with so much family history on such a special day.  According to the 2012 American Wedding Study, 46% of brides preserve their wedding dress for their children or grandchildren, and I suspect that number will continue to rise.

So how is wearing a vintage gown different from wearing a new gown? 

  • First, you need to consider what sort of condition it’s in.  Was it stored in an acid-free, museum-quality, archival wedding chest lined with fabric or acid-free tissue or was it covered by a plastic bag and sitting in someone’s closet?  If gowns are not stored in ideal conditions, they are likely to yellow significantly and have discoloration spots.  If you are thinking of wearing a vintage gown, take it to a professional dry cleaner and allow them to inspect it carefully.  After the review, discuss the options with your cleaner before moving forward.
  • Second, proper fit could be an issue.  When selecting a brand new gown, you have the luxury of finding the best size for alterations.  With a vintage gown, there are no sizing options – you start with what you have.  Do some research and find a seamstress that specializes in wedding gown alterations.  Taking the dress in is no problem, but what about letting it out?  There are lots of options here: you can let out seams and darts, add side pieces in the bodice and sleeves from the train, find matching fabric, or remove zippers and add a corset back. 
  • Finally, as with any gown, have it cleaned and preserved by a qualified specialist as soon as possible after your big day; the longer you wait, the less likely it is that all stains and spills can be removed.  My guess is since you’re wearing a vintage gown, then you probably want to keep it.  Then be sure to inspect your gown before it is put into the preservation container, which should be a completely acid-free, museum-quality, archival wedding chest lined with fabric or acid-free tissue.  And once you have the gown home, never store it in an attic or basement where there are extreme temperature changes and humidity.
With the proper care, your gown will remain the well-preserved treasure it is and will be safe, secure, and waiting for the next family bride that wants to wear it on her special day. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day

When I was a little girl, my dad was a member of the local Elks Lodge.  My sister and I spent plenty of time up there while my dad volunteered.  Sometimes it was fun because we got to get a Coke and a bag of M&M’s, and other times it was simply boring because we had to dress up and sit quietly while the adults talked --- for a really, really long time.  Like during the annual Flag Day ceremony; in the eyes of an eight year old little girl, it was torture.  If only I’d understood the significance back then like I do today.

Back then, I had no idea what the Elks Lodge was about; I had no idea about their involvement in Veterans programs, youth programs, and Americanism.  Looking back, it seems altogether fitting that an organization like this would like to acknowledge and show respect for the American Flag and all that it represents.  I searched for a photo of my dad at one of these ceremonies but was unsuccessful; however, my mom and I did find this one at the Elks Lodge in Mount Vernon, Indiana.  He's the handsome dude on the right in the super-cool jacket.

The thing is, you don’t have to be the member of a special organization to show respect for the American Flag.  One of the easiest ways to honor the American Flag and our country, is to keep its colors looking bright and strong, and the best way to do that is to have it regularly cleaned.  But don’t go thinking that you have to do this yourself because A Cleaner World cleans American Flags for free – every day.  We always have; we always will.  If it will fit in the machine, we’ll clean it for you.  No questions asked.  Just check out this huge flag we cleaned at our Thomasville location.

All you have to do is drop it by one of our locations, and we’ll gladly clean it for you and have it ready when promised – at no charge. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

5 Misconceptions about Dry Cleaning

  1. Frequent dry cleaning causes clothes to wear out more quickly.  Actually it’s the opposite.  First, dirt and soil that build up on clothes eventually acts like sandpaper and causes the fibers to wear down more quickly.  Second, products like deodorant, toothpaste, make up, and lotions end up on clothes.  If left for a long time, they can cause discoloration or color loss.  Third, insects are attracted to dirty clothes.  Placing dirty clothes back in your closet is like hanging a neon welcome sign for insects to start munching on dirty fibers.  Finally, spills that are left untreated for a long period of time become part of the fabric.  See number 2 for more information.
  2. All stains can be removed.  We’ve talked about this before and sadly they cannot, for various reasons.  First, a stain left untreated for a long period of time becomes part of the fabric, so if the stain can actually be removed, the fabric where the stain once was is now a different color.  Second, certain stains on certain fabrics can be especially difficult to remove without causing damage to the garment.  Third, not knowing what the stain is can make it more challenging to remove, and too many attempts at removal could again cause damage to the fabric.
  3. Garments don’t shrink.  Actually they can if the material hasn’t been properly preshrunk.  Most of the time, shrinkage occurs gradually.  Most manufacturers consider a 2-3% shrinkage factor acceptable, but if there’s a lot of shrinkage after the first cleaning, then that’s considered excessive shrinkage.  The bottom line is that shrinkage goes back to the way the garment was manufactured.
  4. The care label is always right.  Sadly it’s not.  In 1972, the Federal Trade Commission launched the Care Labeling Rule, which required manufacturers to label their clothing with instructions for at least one safe cleaning method.  But according to the Dry Cleaning Laundry Institute, ‘that rule does not require testing before care instructions are assigned to a garment – only that a manufacturer have a reasonable basis for their care instructions.’  With our years of training and experience, we’ve learned that we have to be smarter than the label. 
  5. Dry cleaning harms the environment.  Perchloroethylene, the dry cleaning solution we use, is from the same group of cleaning supplies used in household cleaners and swimming pools.  While the dry cleaning industry is heavily regulated with high standards, A Cleaner World’s internal standards are even higher.  Not only do we continuously purify and recycle our cleaning solution to minimize waste and increase efficiency, we also regularly test air quality in our plants, keep our equipment running safely and efficiently, and recycle our poly bags and hangers.  A Cleaner World is committed to doing our part to keep the environment safe and clean.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Caring for your Wedding Gown

One of my favorite television shows was Sex in the City, mostly because my boring life paled in comparison to these hip, cool New York women, and so I simply watched and lived vicariously through them.  Alas, all good things must come to an end ….. Until they made a movie, and I got to sit in the theatre and finally see Carrie and Big get married.  I knew all along that they were meant to be together.

Likely you’ve seen the movie too, so you know that the dress she initially chose was a no-label silk dress that she found at a vintage shop, but a Vogue photo shoot threw her off track, she wound up wearing an over-the-top designer dress, and then a big mess ensued.  Long story short, she eventually marries Big in that no-label vintage silk dress, and that’s the dress I want to focus on today.

To be considered a vintage dress, a dress needs to be made anywhere from 1920 – 1995.  If a garment is made before 1920, then it is considered antique, and if a garment is relatively new and imitates the style of a previous era, it is considered retro.  While there are so many beautiful brand-new gowns out there today, many brides are choosing to marry in a previously-worn gown, whether it is a pre-owned gown they simply love or a gown that someone special to them previously wore.  The bottom line is wedding gowns, especially those that have some time on them, need proper care or otherwise they might not be in the right condition to share.  Here are some tips to ensure your gown is in great shape for your big day as well as for someone special that might want to wear it down the road.

  • Always hang your gown by the loops inside the gown to keep it from stretching or sagging.
  • Know the fabric your gown is made from.  This is important because a spill on artificial fiber is easier to remove than a spill on a silk gown.
  • Be prepared on your big day – do you hair and makeup before putting on your gown to avoid a mishap; keep safety pins on hand to help with a loose hem or broken strap; and camouflage any spots with something white and harmless like baking soda or baby powder.
  • Have your gown cleaned and preserved as soon as possible after your wedding day.  Be sure to inspect your gown before the cleaner puts it into the preservation container.  Make sure the container is acid-free and is lined with either fabric or acid-free tissue paper.
  • Don’t store your gown in a plastic bag or a vacuum-sealed container.  First, plastic emits fumes that can cause your dress to yellow, and second, plastic can trap moister which leads to mildew.
  • Store your gown in a cool, dry place that isn’t subject to extreme temperature changes or humidity. 
If you have questions or concerns about wedding gown care, please stop by one of our locations and speak with the manager.  Whether your wedding gown is vintage or brand new, it’s likely the most important dress you’ll ever own.  Be sure to give it the proper care it deserves so it looks just as stunning as it did the day you walked down the aisle.   

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Use Caution When Wearing Jewelry

Luckily, this is one I don’t have to worry about, and my husband is incredibly thankful that I’m like the only woman in the world that doesn’t care a bit about jewelry.  Unfortunately, his dad isn’t so lucky; Matt’s mom LOVES jewelry and has sadly ruined several lovely garments because a piece of jewelry has gotten caught on a blouse or sweater.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when wearing jewelry:
  • Certain fabrics are more susceptible to damage than others.  When a piece of jewelry constantly rubs a specific area on smooth satin, it weakens the fibers.  Those weakened fibers will shift or break during cleaning, which will leave a pilled or snagged surface. 
  • One fabric to be mindful of is anything made with a soft, plush chenille yarn.  These garments are easily snagged when they come in contact with any sort of rough surface. 
  • Loosely-woven wool also tends to pill easily when it comes in contact with a rough surface.
  • Areas that are especially vulnerable include necklines where a necklace is worn or sleeve cuffs where a watch or bracelet is worn.  Be sure to check prongs on rings to make sure they are all secure and do not protrude as they can easily cause a snag or blemish on a delicate piece of fabric.
  • Finally, many times these items will simply rub or abrade the fabric and damage may not be noticeable until after the garment is washed or dry cleaned. 
Most jewelry comes in the form of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and they don’t pierce the fabric.  But what about pinning on name tags, tie tacks, and brooches?  With these items, you need to use even greater caution.  Here’s why:
  • Thin shear fabrics like silk and polyester can get permanent holes, picks, or yarn slippage. Yarn slippage comes from the weight of the pin pulling on a cross woven light fabric.
  • With tightly woven fabrics like taffeta or silk ties, holes created by pins don't always close.
  • Fabrics that contain spandex have elastic fibers that will break similar to panty hose.
  • Many of the pins on these items are inexpensive and dull, causing broken fibers as it passes in and out of the fabric.
The best options, when wearing items that you may pin on garments, are thick wool coats and blazers, thick cotton blouses or shirts, or try to pin through an area like the placket where the fabric is double and contains inner face.

A Cleaner World likes helping you look your best, so please keep all these things in mind as you put your ensembles together.  As always, please feel free to stop by or call one of our locations if you have questions or concerns.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cleaning Military Uniforms

For a Grandparent’s Day program a few weeks ago, Gray’s fourth grade class memorized and recited the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields”.  I’d never heard it before and had no idea of the origin, so of course I ‘Googled’ it.  This led to all kinds of articles on the author, WWI, Moina Michael’s reply poem, red poppies, and ultimately Memorial Day.  I thought the whole thing was a bit timely, given that Memorial Day was just around the corner.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States.  In my opinion, we simply don’t do enough for those folks, both Veterans that return home and families of fallen soldiers, who served our country so bravely and so honorably.  The ultimate sacrifice, their life, was given so that we could enjoy the freedom to worship, the freedom to speak freely, the freedom of the press, the right to assemble peacefully, the ability to request that our complaints be heard, and most importantly, be safe.

I am so proud to work for a company that likes hiring Veterans, all of whom show such dedication to the company, leadership in their positions, and pride in their work.  Sadly, we have only so many positions to fill, so we have to find other ways to show our appreciation – like cleaning American Flags for free and honoring special events, like Armed Forces Day.  This Saturday, May 20th, is Armed Forces Day and to celebrate, we’re cleaning one military uniform per family for free.  All you have to do is drop off your military uniform this Saturday during business hours and mention then that you saw this on social media.

In comparison, it’s not much, but my mom always told me that “It’s the thought that counts.”  Believe me, there’s a whole lot of thought, reflection, care, and thankfulness that goes along with this small gesture.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tips to Help Your Kids Keep Their Rooms Clean

I’ve mentioned numerous times that I’m a clean freak – that my house is immaculate…..that is, except for Gray’s room.  I learned some time ago to simply stop trying in his room.  My son loves Legos, little green Army men, and Matchbox cars.  More importantly, he creates these worlds in his room where all these things collide into what he sees as a masterpiece and what I see as a huge mess. 

About two years ago, I’d had enough and decided that I needed to create storage solutions that worked for an 8 year old.  Here’s how we went about organizing the chaos.
  • We had a clean out day.  We got rid of toys he was no longer interested in and donated them to our church.  He tried on lots of clothes, and those that he’d outgrown went to friends that have a son two years younger than Gray.  Then we started organizing what was left……which was still a lot.
  • I had to realize that he’s not as tall as I am, so I got on my knees and looked at everything from his point of view.  We reorganized his clothes so that his everyday clothing is hanging on the bottom rack in his closet, and his school and church clothes are hanging on the top.  We also placed books that he doesn’t read often on higher shelves along with things he’s only allowed to play with adults like messy science kits and his bow and arrow.  This way he can now reach and put away the things he often wants.
  • I got him involved.  Together we picked out some cool storage containers that fit under his Lego table.  Now spare Lego parts and pieces are organized by color or set.  We bought an accordion file and organized all of his Lego instructions by category.  I also purchased baskets and see through plastic containers that just slide onto the shelves in his closet.
  • We found a home for everything.  All items are grouped by category and have a designated spot in a variety of locations.  For instance, all Cub Scout items go in the middle drawer of his bunk bed.  Green Army men and related stuff all live in a couple plastic containers on a particular shelf in his closet.  And odd little spare pieces have their own storage basket.
  • I had to loosen up a bit.  I’m not nearly has strict about the condition of his room, though I do still insist that no more than two play extravaganzas are going on at the same time.  When he tries to pull out a third (and believe me he does), I remind him that it’s time to put up the first two.
The biggest thing I learned was that I had to make it easy for him.  Now, most everything can be dumped and shoved (that’s how it works because he is a 10 year old boy) into a designated basket, drawer, or tub and placed on a shelf in his closet or under the Lego table.  

If you have creative storage solutions that help keep your children’s rooms clean, please feel free to share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or G+.
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