This is a guide covering the usual pieces of garments and accessories you may order or buy from Handcrafted History. I always aim to create garments for actual reenactors who will be playing, working and eating in their outfits, living life and going to parties! With this said- garments that can take the wear of everyday life and get washed afterwards!
- Remember, garments from other vendors might have other caring instructions, as well as bespoke items ordered from me. Always follow the personal care instructions received with your items if more than one caring option is available.
- I wash almost all my clothing in my washing machine, including wool clothes. Because I am lazy. The garments will get a little more wear from the machine washing, and it would be kinder to the wool fabrics to wash them by hand, and because of that, I recommend hand washing to my customers, so they will get the most use out of every single garment!
- Wet garments are more sensitive than dry ones, so always handle your clothes with care when wet. Bring them out from the machine gently, and don’t put a strain on sensitive parts like a smocked collar or sleeve details by pulling or hanging the garments from these.
- Oh, no! Blood or red wine on your party outfit? Rinse immediately with bubble water if you can find any. For small blood stains; your saliva might be used to remove these. Silk fabric, however, might get stained by these too, so you will have to decide if a water stain or a red stain would be more visible…
- Sunlight will bleach even modern dyes if you hang the garments out to air or dry. Don’t leave garments out in the sun for too long, or hang them inside out. But a white shirt with stains might be bleached in the sun intentionally; leave it out for a couple of days to let the sun take care of stubborn stains that didn’t disappear in the wash.
- Soak or rinse stains at once to avoid permanent marks on garments. Avoid bleach and heavy detergents, as well as chemicals, flame… Well, you get it.
- Air your clothing after every use to reduce how often you need to wash them. Steaming will let wrinkles out easy. Mend holes or broken seams at once.
- Store your garments in a dry place, check them for vermin every season and fold or roll them gently in place. Never hang heavy garments while storing, they might stretch or get marks from the hanger.
- Have a care when getting dressed or undressed, look at your historical clothing more like a suit than a sweatshirt set. Your clothing will last much longer if you don’t jump into your hose or rip the shirt off in a hurry.
I always use prewashed linen when sewing clothing for customers, this means that the linen fabric has been pre-shrunk and is safe to water wash for years to come. Wash your linen fabric in 40 degrees C, and pre-soak stains that have dried in or chunky pieces of mud. Use a regular mild detergent, no bleach.
Afterwards, gently take out your garments from the machine (or handwashing tub) and gently stretch the fabric lengthwise, especially the sleeves. Even prewashed garments may “shrink” (the fibres will pull together) which may cause, for example, the sleeves to appear shorter. After this, hang lighter garments or flat dry heavy pieces.
Ironing your underwear such as shirts and shifts make them look nice, feel smoother and resist sweat and dirt stains for longer. Use the recommended settings on your iron (normally 3 dots) and steam.
I always prewash all wool fabrics before sewing, which many others don’t bother with. Instead, they tell their customers to never wash their historical clothing. I guess they have never come home from an event covered in sweat, dirt, food stains and wine? I have. And I want to be able to wash my clothing. So I make this a standard for all my customers too!
Start with airing out your garment, brush of dirt with a brush and close lacings, buttonholes etc.
Handwash your wool garments in cold to lukewarm water, with a wool detergent. Handle with care; do not knead, twist or pull violently on the garment. Rinse several times to get all the detergent out of the fabric. Lift carefully, press out excess water (with a clean towel) and arrange on a flat surface to dry. Smooth out the fabric so it looks neat and has the form it had before washing.
Iron on 2 dots with steam, and a pressing cloth (a kitchen towel or cotton sheet will do)
Silk, silk brocade, silk velvet etc
Silk is a fabric that doesn’t like water washing. But if you need to remove food stains, mud and such you don’t have much choice. If you soak your silk fabric, soak all of it to avoid water stains or lines. Follow the wool washing instructions and use a natural fibres/silk detergent (I use the same on both wool and silk) and always use a pressing cloth when ironing. Airing and steaming your fabric will make it look nice longer.
Silk fabrics are the only fabrics I do not wash before sewing, I only steam them to loosen up any weaving tension to avoid shrinking later.
If your garment has tin/pewter or bronze buttons, removing these will make them stay shiny for longer. Fur does not like water washing, so removing this and then stitching it back might be good. Otherwise, the fur will be dry and a bit brittle with a papery feel after a couple of washes. Or maybe you can wash the garment leaving the fur hanging outside the tub?
Jewelry, Viking age wire posaments, brocaded silks, straw and real pearls don’t do good with washing, try to avoid that for as long as possible, remove these pieces if you can before wetting the garment.
Leather doesn’t like being water washed either, but can usually take a wash or two. Just remember to grease it up afterwards.
Wool hats: try not to crush, but if they have gotten a fold or dent you can steam them with an iron or boiling water, reshape and put the hat to dry in the shape you want. Might be handwashed the same way as wool fabrics in cold water, handle gently and always shape and store standing on a flat surface. Brush of loose dirt and dust.
Wool hats treated with shellack: do not crush, wet or wash with water. Carefully brush surfaces, leave them out to air and store standing on a flat surface. Stains might be carefully removed with a damp cloth.
Straw: Clean by airing or gently rub stains with a damp cloth. If folded/crushed and the fibres are intact; soak in lukewarm water, reshape when soft and put to dry in the exact shape as before. Use weights and support to make the hat dry in the wanted shape. Crushed fibres are damaged but might be supported by a hatband, or reinforced with a decorative fabric border being stitch on, so you may get more use out of the hat.
There you go! With the right care, you will be able to enjoy your historical garments for many years to come. And if you are uncertain about a specific piece of clothing you’ve got from me, always feel free to ask for caring advice!
I also do mending and size adjustments on garments I have made myself, just seek me out and we’ll see what we can do to make your garments more useful, and last longer!