cleaning query
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Author:  amanda huang [ Tue Jan 11, 2005 4:14 am ]
Post subject:  cleaning query

Hello. My name is Amanda and I have just returned from a trip to Lijiang and Dali in China. I am a complete novice when it comes to textiles of the area but I found them so beautiful that I couldn't resist buying some pleated skirts, a jacket and some babies' hats. The hats are from the Miao, Yi and Bai nationalities but I'm not sure about the skirts and jacket.

I would like to clean the hats and display them, and I would like to be able to wear the skirts and jacket. The hats are simply a bit grubby from use, but the skirts and jacket are full of indigo dye powder which comes off on everything - I had blue fingers for most of our trip!

Is it possible to set the dye or remove the excess? The garments are a combination of indigo dyed fabric and brightly coloured embroidered silk which I do not want to damage. Is dry cleaning an option?

I apologise for my ignorance in this area. This site contains a wealth of information on a topic I am very keen to learn more about.

Thank you.

Amanda Huang

Author:  Pamela [ Tue Jan 11, 2005 7:09 pm ]
Post subject: 


Welcome to the forum!

The question of cleaning is always one which troubles collectors - new or experienced.

The advice is always to clean the textiles as little as possible if you want to preserve them as avoid colours running in the embroidery or weaving.

Hats - I would try and clean these as little as possible. Brush gently; and perhaps spot clean any particular marks but other than that leave as they are.

Indigo. It is the nature of the dye to rub off. The blue tinge is unfortunately part of their 'charm'! If you wash the skirts and they are pleated then you will have difficulty re-pleating them. I suggest that you read ... .php?t=101 thread with dealt with this question. Even if you were going to dry clean you should tack down the pleats before having them cleaned to keep the pleats in place. This would, of course, stop the treatment getting under the pleats and removing indigo.

The indigo dye is already 'set'. It does not run and is 'set' by oxidising after dipping (several times) in the indigo dye vat. The surface of the textile (and dye) will rub off. This is a feature of indigo.

You might want to hang up your indigo clothes in an airy, shady place and then gently brush them to remove any excess of dye.

It is possible that your textile may have had an additional treatment on top to give it a shine and also a more gold or red tinge to the indigo. This is on top of the indigo.

The bright embroidery silks are likely to fade or run or both in water. If you do use water it should be cold to luke warm and only a natural soap if any.

Under the jacket you could wear a t-shirt or blouse so that the indigo does not rub off on your skin.

Another thread on our old, archived forum, has some discussion of cleaning ... _smell.htm

Author:  amanda huang [ Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:24 am ]
Post subject:  cleaning textiles

Thank you very much for your detailed reply, Pamela; it was most helpful. I will try airing and gently brushing the garments first.

After reading some of the relevent threads on this excellent site, I am now beginning to think that the skirts and jacket are Miao. I don't think that they are old as they don't show any signs of having been worn before and there were quite a few skirts and jackets of similar design on sale.

The baby hats seem old and have definitely been worn. They have some elements made from modern materials which could possibly have been added to older hats to make them look newer. The Miao hat has some gold plastic beads, and the Bai hat has synthetic fluoro pom poms attached with little wire springs - very cute! ( Is anyone interested in photos of them?)

This site has certainly opened my eyes to the beauty and diversity of these textiles. I can't wait to return to China and go searching for more beautiful examples, but not until I've done some thorough research on the topic.

Thank you again for your help.


Author:  Pamela [ Wed Jan 12, 2005 9:06 pm ]
Post subject: 


Yes, we would love to see photos!

Sounds as if yet another person has been attacked by the dreaded textile virus!

Now, if you are going to start researching you may also succomb to the secondary disease of book buyer's mania!

However, take it from one who is badly affected - it's fun as well!!

All the best,

Author:  nurit simpson [ Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:45 pm ]
Post subject:  cleaning textile

hi Amanda,
You can try and clean your hats very gently with a damp cloth or a velt brush above steam.

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