Cleaning Vintage Treasures

Scarlette SaintclairComment


You found it!! Thrift store gold that incredible vintage dress you always have wanted and for a steal. Unfortunately it smells a bit and has some weird film on it you noticed once you got in the car and admired it properly! Well don't worry almost any fabric item with care and perseverance can be brought back to its wearable glory. The first step is a gentle wash bath. 

Generously fill either a large sink or a bathtub with lukewarm water.  The item must be able to be completely submerged. and ONLY ONE ITEM AT A TIME! You don't want any accidental color bleeds. Always start your by using the most gentle of products i.e. Woolite, Dreft, Dawn dish soap(works great to spot treat oil and grease stains) or even baking soda. You can work up to harsher products as you feel the item needs more severe treatment. Dissolve one of these products in a pot of hot water then add the completely dissolved solution to the bathtub. 

Lay the garment in the tub and pat it flat with your hands letting the solution run through the garment as it floats in the water.   NEVER AGITATE THE GARMENT.    Let it soak for about 15 to 30 minutes.  Let water out of the tub leaving the soapy garment in the tub.  Whatever the fibre, any wet garment will be much heavier, but wool will be much weaker wet than when dry, so handle it carefully when you lift it. 

The secret is a good rinsing.  Use the shower head attachment if your bath has one and spray rinse the garment moving the fabric folds gently if needed. Do make sure you do this stage thoroughly as you do not want to leave any residue in the garment. If the water running out of the rinse is discolored repeat the wash. I have on occasion had to wash an item multiple times.

 If the garment is wool use a plastic tray to slip under the sweater and support the now very heavy weight of it without causing it to stretch.  If it's cotton or linen move it into your clean bowl and let residual water drain away.  Wrap it carefully in a big bath towel and get rid of that excess water.  Use another bath towel if it helps get rid of more water.  

Once you have gotten most of the water blotted out of the garment use weight strong plastic hanger and let it drip dry over the bath. Be careful not to use a fancy padded hanger or a wooden hanger at this stage, which might transfer wood or dye stains to the item.   If the garment is unusually heavy, use a drying rack.

Okay so you washed it and it still smells a bit, usually the smell is either nicotine or mildew. Don't worry both issues can be tackled with white distilled vinegar. With Cotton or linen fabrics i will just soak in a vinegar and water solution. Other fabrics I spray the vinegar and water mixture 50/50 on with a spray bottle and let hang in the sun. This trick also works on handbags and suitcases. If you get a handbag or suitcase that has a strong odor inside, baking soda usually will do the trick. I coat the inside with baking soda and leave over night, after it has sat, vacuum out the baking soda.

Scarlette Storage Tips

I also keep a laundry dyer sheet in each of my handbags when not in use to keep them fresh smelling:)

Bringing new life to vintage underthings!! by Scarlette Saintclair ~ Florida

Vintage WardrobeScarlette SaintclairComment

As a pin up model we are always in need of  vintage or retro inspired under garments. There are some great companies making reproduction but it can be very pricey. So we search any where and everywhere for that perfect piece at a steal! For me garage sales and thrift stores are my favorite sometimes you can find something for under $5 other times I search ebay and etsy hoping to find something great and in my size. If you thrift at all your familiar with finding that vintage bullet shaped bra or a pretty slip that has seen better days, its yellowed with age or stained. Most people would just put it back or maybe take it home and try to clean it but you really can't bleach these old items with out the risk of destroying them. 

My trick

Idye poly, it is a fabric dye made specifically for dying nylon and polyester. Now there are a few things with vintage items you should know, the rubber on garters and the plastic hooks can only stand so much heat. So boiling your dye bath as directed on the package is not recommend! Instead I fill my dye bucket with as hot as the sink will get tap water, the less water you use the brighter the color. Make sure to really stir your dye bath prior to immersing items otherwise you get streaks and blotchy spots and if you are looking to have matching set you need to put them in the dye bath at the same time. Keep in mind different fabrics will take the dye differently so they may not match perfectly but they will be close. Sometimes the lace will dye a bit darker since it usually has a bit of cotton blended into the fabric. This can make the pieces more interesting and they photograph beautifully. I will put the items in the dye bath and stir, making sure that they are saturated evenly with dye. I will leave them soak them 30 minutes then remove, rinse really well with cold water, then hang to dry. The results are amazing and its so simple to achieve pretty colored vintage lingerie to shoot in!!

 Scarlette  tip ~ always start with a light color, these items can get dyed again at a later date! I usually will do with a darker shade of the original color. Example an orange dye bath will usually give white pretties a pale shade of peachy orange, a second  bath will make for a brighter shade of orange, next time go with a red bath will give a gorgeous  copper red tone, then burgundy etc. 

Always remember that dyed items can bleed so washing them before wearing is usually a good idea. I will throw a freshly dyed item in the wash with an old towel or two to absorb some of the dye in the wash. I do not recommend wearing dyes lingerie under vintage dresses. If you sweat there could be some dye transfer and its just not worth the risk.

Try this, I know you will not be disappointed!

Pinup Facial Expressions by Vivian Vega ~ Houston President

Photo Shoot tipsVivian VegaComment

Today lets discuss pinup facial expressions. I am of course not the all time expert on pin up faces or anything but I have learned a few things and have seen a few things. It's really important to know your own face. For that I seriously suggest sitting in front of a mirror and trying different expressions. It will feel pretty silly but this is very important for you to see. I also recommend that for poses too! Let's say you want to try to pull off some Marilyn Monroe type expressions but after playing around in front of the mirror you find out it's not really working too well...Don't worry! Every face is different and you just need to find your individual strengths and your preferences. I also suggest before a shoot that you look for posing and facial expression inspiration. You really want to be able to get to your shoot and do your best. When I first started getting a good smile in my photo was so difficult and awkward for me but I eventually realized the more I felt awkward about smiling the better it actually looked. I think that was because I wasn't in a genuine setting where I would really smile like when having a conversation with someone. It was hard to make a genuine smile happen when I was just facing a camera. The A, E, I, O, U rule is also a big help too so keep that in mind while practicing and shooting.

When I say it's important to know your own face and your own preferences I say that because I have learned quite a few things about my own face for example....
- Since my eyes are pretty small in order for my eyes to be more visible in a photo I actually look at the top of the camera or at the top of the photographers head instead of directly at the lens
- My left side of my face is way more structured and photogenic than my right side. I don't like very many photos that come from the ride side of my face but every once in a while I shoot a little from that side anyways just in case but I don't focus on that side
- It's more flattering for my face if I slightly tilt my head back instead of forward

Eventually you will get to a point to where when you do an expression you know how it feels and you know you're doing it the way you want.

Vivian Vega

Posing tips by Vivian Vega ~ Houston President

Photo Shoot tipsKristin FreveleComment

Alright lets talk about posing your hands for a shoot...

If you have a hard time posing your hands, don't worry! It's legit one of the hardest things for most people to think about and control during a shoot. When posing try to keep them what I consider "light" you don't want to apply too much grip to something (like when holding a prop if your holding it too tightly your hands will show the stress). You also don't want to apply too much pressure. Keep this in mind, when you can, as some poses may require holding yourself up (or something) and then it cant really be avoided. I recommend keeping your hands as relaxed as you can with light control over them. For pinup you want your hands to be naturally flowing and delicate. I remember when Nita and I went to a workshop earlier this year. At the end I was waiting around and a model asked me to help her pose. She was attempting a pose in where she was sitting and trying to hold her dress slightly above her knees. She was holding the dress in the correct area but appeared to have a death grip on her dress. Please try to AVOID the death grip! I have also noticed that sometimes people will stick their pinky finger way out. That may feel proper but in the photos it's not flattering to your hand to have one finger extremely separated from the rest of your fingers. It can become an unintentional focal point. Another thing to avoid is when you are placing a hand on your face, arm, body, or leg...again, remember to not apply too much pressure as that will create a dent in your skin. Keep your hands light and softly flowing in and out of poses. And that is the advice I have for today. I will add more if I think of anything else and I hope this helps!

Vivian Vega