Monday’s With Mel
After the first couple weeks w/ Mel you've probably stepped out from your normal routine and tried a few things I've suggested and no doubt you like what you've seen. You've taken your existing wardrobe and made it dance in new ways. This brings us to this week's question and the ongoing dilemma …
35 years ago, I studied textiles. I was so fortunate to learn from the best instructors here in the states and in Paris France. Back then, fabrics and yarns were just starting to develop into blends and synthetics. The wools and cottons of yesteryear, (the 1900’s), were simple and stiff! In today's world they're still using the same plants and fur they used back then but unlike the 1900's technology and science have transformed the heavy, scratchy cottons and wool into lightweight sometimes silky fabrics you find in the stores.
Remember those leisure suits made of the first polyester yarns? Stiff, scratchy and stuffy only begin to describe the discomfort experienced in the 70's and 80's. This weeks, Monday’s with Mel, I am going to answer some well thought out and appropriate questions about what we wear and how to wash them.
The fabric of our lives … "How do I take care of my garments?”
As I look around the boutique, I see a theme to the fabrics which the name brands and designers are using. The Danish brands, Rosemunde & Ilse Jacobsen, have a variety of yarns they use, such as Silk and Viscose, (a type of Rayon).
The Silk fiber is strong, fine, it feels soft and lustrous to the touch and is made by silkworms for their cocoons. Considered an animal fiber, silk has been used in apparel for centuries. The durable and lustrous fiber is made into yarns that, made well, can last for years. When designers blend this fabulous yarn with another fiber, like cotton, the strength of the yarn is multiplied. Rosemunde blends silk and cotton for their luxurious Tanks & Tee’s.
Cleaning a garment made with silk is a task that isn’t easy. Something with 100% Silk content should always be dry cleaned since water breaks down the fibers of the thread if you're not careful. Rosemunde uses the strength of silk and blends it with the subtle & soft yarn of cotton to make these garments hold up better to the rigors of washing while still maintaining the luxurious feel of silk. Simply, machine wash these garments on cold with like colors, tumble dry on a LOW temp or lay flat to dry. Most garment instructions will state to use a mild detergent. Tide works just fine! I've been washing my Rosemunde Tanks & Tee’s for years and they still look GREAT!
Viscose is a type of rayon derived from wood pulp that is regenerated as a cellulose fiber. Typical sources of this wood pulp are from fast-growing trees such as eucalyptus, beech, or pine. French scientist and industrialist Hilaire de Chardonnet (1839-1924) is credited with inventing the first commercial viscose fiber, as a cheaper alternative to silk. But the fabric was so flammable it was taken off the market until a safer process was developed by the German Bemberg Company. In 1892, British scientists Charles Frederick Cross, Edward John Bevan, and Clayton Beadle discovered and patented the production process, and by 1905 the first commercial viscose rayon was on the market.
We still use this fabulous fabric in so many garments. So, make sure you read the fabric content on your garment and check the washing instructions. Some rayons/viscose fabrics are delicate and should be dry cleaned. In some cases, when they are blended with cotton or poly, you can wash them on the handwash cycle and hang or lay them flat to dry.
Cotton… Next on my list of widely used fabrics. Cotton is a staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants. The fiber is almost pure cellulose and people have been using this fiber, like silk, for centuries. It is one of the most popular and versatile fabrics in the fashion industry. When used with any other fiber or yarn your garment will feel soft, breathable, lightweight and becomes more durable, less prone to shrinkage. A couple useful tips are a) use cold water to further limit shrinkage and b) when you're washing a dark color turn the item inside out before washing to better preserve the color of the garment.
Polyester is a synthetic fiber primarily derived from petroleum when used in the fashion industry. It was developed in the 50's as an inexpensive and durable alternative to silk and cotton. This is a very popular fabric in today’s world because technology has continually updated the process to better and longer lasting garments. The hand, (or feel), on some polyester yarns are similar to silk or a fine linen depending on the process used to make the polyester yarn. All garments made from polyester are washable and easy to care for.
Next up is wool. I love what technology has done for the wool yarns. No longer just scratchy and rough, now they've been able to produce the wool yarns that are soft and strong. Wool is the textile fiber we get from sheep and other animals. In addition to sheep it generally includes cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, hair & fur from bison, angora from rabbits, and other types of camel hair. Wool consists of protein together with a small percentage of lipids. As most of you know, wool is another fiber that should always be dry cleaned. When blended with other yarns such as cotton or poly, most times you can then wash it in a cold, gentle cycle. Even then you should always lay these garments flat to dry. If a 100% wool item, (of any kind), gets put in a machine the garment will shrink. Accidently my cashmere topper was placed in the machine a few years ago and when I took it out of the machine, I confirmed it. Although the yarn was still very soft, the garment had shrunk roughly 50% of what it was before the water GRABBED it.
I hope these examples have answered some of your questions regarding yarns, fabrics and how to properly take care of them.
In today’s busy world we are washing our clothes more often due to covid-19. These tips will keep your garments looking like new longer.
Have a look at our Three Blooms boutique website to see all the blended yarns in our Spring dresses, viscose rayon wide leg pants and cotton Bermuda shorts and they're ALL very easy to take care of.
I wish you all good health and happiness.