True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

Caring for bespoke garments (part two)

In yesterday's post, I discussed why you'd want a specialist to care for your bespoke garments.

Specifically, I mentioned that RAVE FabriCARE offers two services for bespoke garments:

  • A sponge and press during the season.
     
  • A clean and press at the end of the season or as needed.

Here are the process steps associated with each of these two processes:

Bespoke table
And here's a brief summary of each of these process steps:

Examining the garment

Every bespoke garment is carefully examined and photographed, paying particular attention to the

  • shape and drape, including the curvature of the shoulders, chest, sleeves and collar, and the roll of the lapels (true three button; three button that rolls to two, often called a three-roll-two; two button, etc.)
     
  • presence of water-based stains, such as perspiration, soda, juice, wine, beer, etc.
     
  • presence of oil-based stains, such as butter, salad dressing, steak sauce, body oil, creams, lotions, etc.
     
  • visible defects, including shine; seam, flap and button impressions, moire-like press pad impressions; double creases; puckered seams (often called burst seams); wrinkled linings; and other "crimes of fashion."

Removing the dust and soil

Many bespoke garments have accumulated some dust and soil. Even if they've been gently brushed after each wearing. This step is designed to remove that dust and soil.

At RAVE FabriCARE, we lightly vacuum each bespoke garment with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter vacuum equipped with a variable speed adaptor set on the lowest setting.

This vacuum is the very same model favored by museum textile curators to remove dust and soil from garments and textiles in their collection that cannot be drycleaned or wetcleaned due to their construction, age, condition or fragility.

Removing the water-based stains

90% of all visible stains a drycleaner encounters are water-based stains: perspiration, soda, juice, wine, beer, etc.

To remove water-based stains, we gently "flush" the affected area with a light jet of steam and immediately dry the area with a light jet of compressed air.

Even if you were to take your regular "dryclean only" garments to a cleaner, all water-based stains need to be removed in this manner. Before they ever see the inside of that cleaner's drycleaning machine.

Why? Because drycleaning solvents and fluids only emulsify oil-based stains. They don't remove water-based stains. Fact is, you can dryclean a garment with water-based stains as many times as you wish. More often than not, the stain won't "move" with drycleaning alone. Unless, of course, the drycleaner injects moisture into their drycleaning solvent, a common practice amongst ordinary cleaners. And, in my opinion, an absolutely reckless undertaking, approaching drycleaning malpractice. Why reckless? Because excessive moisture shrinks wools and bleeds water soluble dyes.

Removing the oil-based stains

Oil-based stains - such as butter, salad dressing, steak sauce, body oils, creams and lotions - need to be emulsified by a drycleaning solvent or fluid in order to be removed. One of the most important functions of drycleaning fluid is to emulsify oils and fats.

An ordinary cleaner will typically load your garments into a drycleaning machine, add a drycleaning solvent or fluid (such as perchloroethylene aka perc, synthetic petroleum or siloxane), add moisture, fragrance and sizing, tumble the garments for 10 to 20 minutes, extract and dry.

That's "drycleaning" at it's most basic.

At RAVE FabriCARE, your bespoke garments never see the inside of our drycleaning machines. We hand-clean all oil based stains using siloxane, our fabric gentle, non-dye stripping drycleaning fluid.

Why siloxane? Because siloxane is. So gentle it's been used for decades as a base product in shampoos, antiperspirants, deodorants and moisturizing creams. This means you probably drip siloxane into your eyes every time you shampoo your hair and you spray or roll it onto the most sensitive parts of your skin every time you apply an antiperspirant or deodorant. You even digest siloxane when you eat McDonalds french fries (but that's a story for another day).

Hand pressing the garment

Ordinary cleaners love their presses.

Why? Because pressing is where cleaners can achieve the greatest productivity. At ordinary cleaners, your garments are banged out on a press at a furious rate. Typically, 30 to 40 pants per hour per presser; 20 to 30 non-pant garments per hour per presser.

Here's the problem: poor pressing can damage a garment by subjecting that garment to way too much pressure, with way too much steam, for way too long, at way too high a temperature. Especially when it comes to fine wools, silks and other non-cotton and non-linen fabrics.

And the results? Shine; seam, flap and button impressions; moire-like press pad impressions; double creases; puckered seams (often called burst or blown seams), wrinkled linings; and other "crimes of fashion".

At RAVE FabriCARE, we delicately finish all your bespoke garments. The old fashioned way. By hand. Using a hand iron. Both inside and out. No matter how long it might take. Paying particular attention to the curvature of the shoulders, chest, sleeves and collar, and to the roll of the lapels.

Pressing, as practiced by ordinary cleaners, is such a poor descriptor of the art of finishing. Of course, a skilled finisher must know how to apply pressure to achieve a smooth finish on a linen or cotton. But a smooth, soft, hand-finish, that minimizes the possibility of shine, seam, flap or button impressions, and puckered seams, best defines the finest professional finishing.

If you're looking for validation of this point of view, just broach the subject of "pressing" with any custom tailor and watch their blood pressure rise.

Inspecting the garment

Ever get the feeling that your cleaner doesn't inspect your garments carefully?

I've got news for you. You're probably right. Very few cleaners thoroughly inspect every garment. Inside and out.

You see, careful, thorough inspection takes a full-time commitment. And, if the cleaner has any quality standards, an uncompromising position on every aspect of the process. Including stain removal, cleaning, finishing and repairs (buttons, clasps, seams, hems, zippers, etc.).

The problem is that many ordinary cleaners claim that they inspect each and every garment. They even use the term "hand inspect", implying that their inspections are careful and thorough. Yet, these same cleaners typically assign the inspection task to the first available customer service representative with some free time on their hands.

A bigger problem is that the "inspector" is very often also the garment bagger. Whose primary focus is on getting your garments into a bag and onto the conveyor or into the delivery truck, and who simply doesn't have the time to carefully and thoroughly inspect each and every garment. From top to bottom. From inside to outside.

Packaging the garment

Quality craftsmanship can be quickly destroyed by poor packaging.

You can take it as a given that if your cleaner isn't focusing on quality packaging, they're not focusing on quality cleaning, quality finishing and quality inspecting either. After all, why would they invest in extraordinary cleaning, finishing and inspecting if they knew that all that investment will be quickly destroyed by poor packaging?

And what should you look for? Packaging materials that's technically aligned with and supportive of your fine garments:

Coat, sport coat, jacket and blazer hangers

Hangers that are molded plastic, contoured (supports the overall drape of the coat, sport coat, jacket or blazer and the contour of the neck), and broad in the shoulders (supports the drape of the shoulder and the sleeve).

Clip hangers

Hangers that are molded plastic, straight, with one inch wide rubber backed plastic clips (half inch metal clips leave lasting impressions).

Tissue

Tissue that is white, soft (provides gentler cushioning), acid free (won't yellow your white and cream garments), and non-printed (no possibility of the ink rubbing off or bleeding onto your garment).

Poly

Poly that is crystal clear, at least 0.85 mil thick (improved protection for the garment) and extra wide (no possibility of crushing the sides of your garment).

Coat, sport coat, jacket, blazer, dress and gown storage bags

Storage bags that are made from non-woven fibers (allows the garment to breathe) and chemically inert plastic (your garment won't yellow from off-gassing acids in the plastic).

How can I help you?


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