Embellished and bejeweled clothing is all the rage--rhinestone-encrusted jeans, beaded sweater sets, sequined dresses and gemstone-jeweled gowns and scarves. Although beautiful to wear, many of us shy away from such garments because of the special care they require.
However, most clothing doesn't include special-care instructions for washing if the embellishments were added by an artist other than the original designer. So how can you find your way through the mystery of how to clean these special garments? Read on to discover the washing techniques that have been used for hundreds of years to protect and preserve the finest embellished garments.
Next, determine what the embellishment is and how it was applied. For instance, are they beads, sequins, glass gems, crystals or semiprecious gemstones? Embellishments can be applied in any combination of methods that include glue, sewing, rivets or pronged ring settings. Oftentimes just turning the garment inside out will allow you to see the stitching, settings or small glue dots that may not be visible on the outside of the garment. If the garment is lined, you can feel the reverse side through the lining with your fingers to determine what application method was used.
Typically, embellished clothing should be washed by hand or sent to a dry cleaner to safely clean them. You will have more control and save money if you wash the item yourself, by hand, inside out, in your kitchen sink using warm water and a small amount of mild liquid detergent. Avoid using hot water because this may shrink your fabric or soften adhesives and can ruin the finish on beads. Do not soak for more than a few minutes in order to protect the finish on your beads. Gently knead and swirl the saturated garment in the sudsy sink water to gently mimic the agitator in your washing machine to remove light soiling. For larger garments, you may want to use a bathtub to make rinsing easier.
Do not twist or wring the embellished garment, especially with sewn embellishments. In fact, special care must be taken not to stretch, twist or wring the fabric while washing, rinsing or drying because the tiny threads used to sew on the beads could break and you will lose portions of your beaded design.
When the garment is clean, drain the water and press your hands down onto the wadded garment to press most of the water out. There will still be a large amount of water in it, but a clever alternative to a lengthy drying time is to transfer a washed garment to an empty washing machine and use the gentle spin cycle to remove excess water. Do not do this with velvet, because it can cause permanent creases in the pile.
After your garment has dried completely, it might have a stiff feel from air-drying. If this happens, place it in a pillowcase or a zippered garment dryer bag and fluff it in the dryer on low heat for no more than five minutes.
Do not let the fabric or embellishments get too hot or glass and crystal beads could crack and, possibly, soften synthetic beads. If you are ironing embellishments that use adhesives, give the areas you iron a few minutes to cool and re-set before you move them to ensure the stones stay in place. Avoid ironing large embellishments, even with the press cloth. Instead, carefully iron around them with the iron to eliminate any fabric puckers on the reverse side.
When ironing on areas that are not flat, try ironing over the top of a round, ham-shaped pillow or a sleeve pillow made specifically for ironing round surfaces. You can find these ironing pillows at a local sewing or craft store like Hobby Lobby or Joann's Fabrics.
If you have a full-length garment such as an evening gown, place it on a secure, slip-free hanger and cover in a plastic bag to protect from dust and snagging. Another option for storing beautifully embellished articles, such as scarves or robes, is to leave them hanging or draped in the open to be enjoyed while you're not wearing them.
Now that you have the secrets for caring for embellished clothing, don't be afraid to invest in something special or better yet, create your own using your favorite Swarovski crystals, beads and gemstones from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®.
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