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

The cleaning and restoration of antique, vintage and heirloom garments and other textiles

Cleaning an antique, vintage or heirloom garment or other textile is a skillful process that involves great thought and care at every stage of the process.

Gold Dress 1 Gold dress 2

At RAVE FabriCARE, we clean a wide range of antique, vintage and heirloom garments and household textiles, ranging from bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, christening gowns, military uniforms and vintage garments to quilts, lace tablecloths, doll's clothing and soft toys.

Our strength is our personalized advisory service. When you bring in, send in or ship an antique, vintage or heirloom piece to us, a knowledgeable Fabricare Consultant will:

* Examine the piece carefully

* Identify the challenges presented by the piece

* Discuss the areas of risk

* Explain our recommended restoration, cleaning and hand finishing process

* Identify the results that we believe you can expect from our work.

* Assist in identifying the optimum storage methods and conditions.

That having been said, you should know that there are many visible and not so visible problems and/or conditions of manufacture, use and/or storage that may limit whether such items can be safely cleaned and yield satisfactory results.

 At the very least, the following potential problems and/or conditions require careful examination:


May peal, separate, dissolve, lose color, fall off due to loose or broken threads. If glued on, glue may dissolve.


May be broken, missing or mismatched.


May be discolored, stained, or deteriorated due to age. If glued on, color may change. 


May be badly soiled, scuffed, frayed, torn or glued. Soil removal may be limited.


Gold dress 7


May be musty or dank or smell of moth balls, cedar, cigarette/cigar smoke, vomit or urine. 


May be soiled from dust, grass, sand, asphalt, urine, feces, blood or other bodily fluids.


May be discolored, worn, frayed, torn, or stained.


May be stained from food, beverage, perspiration, deodorants, antiperspirants, exposure to water/high humidity, dye bleeding, dye transfer or rust from metal components (buttons, hooks, zippers, etc.).

Gold dress 3 Gold dress 4




Gold dress 6


Gold dress 5



Bows, pleating, flowers, appliques, beads, sequins, rhinestones and other ornamental attachments may separate or discolor. If trim is glued on, glue may dissolve.

Overall Condition

Scuffing; color loss areas; yarn slippage; yellowing due to age, exposure to light and/or heat or poor storage conditions; worn collars and cuffs; open or loose seams and hems; moth and/or other insect damage (may be visible or invisible to the naked eye); dry rot; tears. Weak or fragile areas (particularly at the underarms) may tear. Unstable dyes may bleed.

As a general rule, these visible and not so visible problems and/or conditions may be exposed during the cleaning and finishing process. Which is one reason we always advise our clients to ensure that their vintage pieces have been professionally cleaned and hand finished by a restoration specialist prior to purchase.

Despite these potential problems and/or conditions, it is possible to achieve excellent results when you entrust your antique, vintage and heirloom garments and other textiles to a restoration specialist.

Over the next few weeks this blog will introduce a new series of posts entitled "Anatomy Of  A Garment Restoration." Each post will include before and after photos of restorations completed by RAVE FabriCARE for our museum, historical society, collector and other clients.

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