Friday, January 28, 2011

Laundry never ends...continued

Friday, January 28, 2011
Loretta reports:

A reader asked about bleaching yards in urban areas.  Not a good idea.  Beau Brummell used to send his laundry out to the country (bear in mind that "country" could mean Kensington in his day).  I did find another approach, although I'm still puzzled about where, exactly, the linens were hung to dry.
In large towns, where linen cannot be exposed to the air and sun upon the grass, let it be steeped, for some time before it is washed, in a solution of oxymuriate of lime Let it then be boiled in an alkaline ley.* Linen or cotton thus treated will not become yellow by age.
--From The complete servant, by Samuel and Sarah Adams, 1825

As to the fine fabrics another reader asked about. . .
When the pile of velvet requires to be raised, it is only necessary to warm a smoothing iron, cover it with a wet cloth, and hold it under the velvet; the vapour arising from the wet cloth will raise the pile of the velvet, with the assistance of a whisk gently passed over it.  For spots and stains in velvet, bruise some of the plant called soap-wort, strain out the juice, and add to it a small quantity of black soap.  Wash the stain with this liquor, and repeat it several times after it has been allowed to dry.  To take wax out of velvet, rub it frequently with hot toasted bread.
--from The New Female Instructor
You 'll find a whole chapter on “The Art of Laundering and Scouring” in Frances Grimble's The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery, & Etiquette. It covers every kind of material and specific solutions for cleaning various colors and “reviving” colors.

For more, check out Susan’s blog about an old-time dry cleaning method.

*Ley could mean lye or it could be used more generally to refer to a cleansing agent.  I saw some examples of ash-ley in receipts for cleaning.

Illustration: Mulberry velvet Evening Dress & Plaid Swiss Gingham morning dress from The Court magazine & monthly critic and lady's magazine, Volume 8, 1836 (fashions for January).


Tonya said...

This is so very interesting reading about how they did things way been then and the different agents that they used. Everytime I come to your blog I learn something new:)

Student of Fashion History said...

Adore the day gown! From the description, is there any way to tell if the skirt is a coordinating striped fabric that matches the plaid used in the collar/bodice sleeves, or perhaps patchwork or maybe appliqued ribbons to achieve the effect? Fabulous use of pattern, whatever the technique.

Jane O said...

I think I am going to have to acquire a velvet garment and drip some candlewax on it just so I can rub it with hot toast!

LorettaChase said...

Student of Fashion, here's the description from the Court Journal:
"OF plaid Swiss gingham, fastened down the side with bows of green riband. Collar of French lawn, trimmed with a Mechlin edging. A simple cap of worked lawn, with full double border of Mechlin lace, under which the hair is arranged in bands and tied with pink riband."
I'm not sure whether it's just this periodical in this particular year, but I have noticed that earlier ladies' magazines gave much longer, more detailed descriptions.

LorettaChase said...

Tonya, thank you! We learn something new all the time as we do our nerdy searching. Jane O, I've got to say, this method had me scratching my head. I wonder if it works equally for silk and cotton velvets and if it would work with today's synthetics...

Cheryl ~ Casual Cottage Chic said...

Just discovered your blog and love it! So interesting...I was searching for information about bourdaloue chamber pots. I'm going to spend hours and hours reading your blog. Thanks for sharing all this historical information.

nightsmusic said...

I want you to know, I finally broke down and bought The Lady's Stratagem. I had a gift card ;o)

I can see the iron/steam technique to do the velvet but for some reason, the hot toast escapes me. One would think it would turn to crumbs before it got anything out.

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