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 a garment: vintage beaded silk shantung dress

About three weeks ago, I received a vintage, hand beaded, silk shantung dress from a San Francisco-based dealer in fine vintage garments.

According to the dealer, she acquired a number of garments, including this dress, from a lady who only wore clothing that was custom made from the very finest fabrics.

She added another interesting detail that I found to be quite fascinating and a commentary on how the internet has shrunken our world.

Apparently, she had offered another dress online that had been acquired from this same individual. A few days after offering the dress, she received an email. According to the dealer, "someone wrote and said did you know X? I said no, why? She said my mother made those dresses for a shop in Beverly Hills."

From a restoration point of view, this dress presented numerous challenges:

  • It had a funky, musty smell
  • It was water stained on the front
  • It was heavily stained on the lining (blood, urine, perspiration, cosmetics, etc.)
  • It was delicately beaded by hand.

Clearly, the key to this restoration was to remove the smell, remove the staining, while simultaneously protecting the delicate bead work.

The restoration results - after 3 weeks of intermittent work - were spectacular: zero odor; all stains removed (with the exception of some light blood stain residue on the silk lining near the vent); beautiful drape, buttery soft hand (or texture) and all beading secure.

The before and after photos below reflect the transformation (please note that any variation in color is the result of my amateur photography):

BEFORE -- DRESS FRONT & BACK

Vintage Before1378 Vintage Before1393
Vintage Before1379 Vintage Before1396
Vintage Before1380 Vintage Before1397
Vintage Before1381 Vintage Before1398

 

BEFORE -- DRESS BEADING DETAIL 

Vintage Before1389 Vintage Before1392
Vintage Before1382

 

BEFORE -- DRESS STAINING

Vintage Before1384
Vintage Before1387 Vintage Before1388
Vintage Before 1417

 

BEFORE -- LINING FRONT & BACK

Vintage Before 1410 Vintage Before1399
Vintage Before 1412 Vintage Before 1401
Vintage Before 1414 Vintage Before 1402
Vintage Before 1415 Vintage Before 1403

 

BEFORE -- LINING STAINING

Vintage Before 1409
Vintage Before 1408 Vintage Before 1407
Vintage Before 1405
Vintage Before 1423 Vintage Before 1424

 

AFTER -- DRESS & LINING FRONT & BACK

Vintage after 2190 Vintage after 2197
Vintage after 2187 Vintage after 2198
Vintage after 2195 Vintage after 2199
Vintage after 2196 Vintage after 2200
Vintage after 2201
Vintage after 2204 Vintage after 2202

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