December 30, 2009

to be cleaned

I can not blame the cat. It's my own fault for not storing the summer corset properly. After the last wearing I aired it out and laid it in a box. I did not put the cover on the box and nothing makes a better bed for a cat than a low sided box. As I was pulling out the 1925 corselet mock-up (which was in a see through plastic container with a lid) I stumbled across this.

In the picture it looks like just a loose layer of dust that can be brushed off, but there is ground in grime across the entire front of the corset. So, cleaning. The section about cleaning in my 1921 copy of Corsets and Close Fitting Patterns published by the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences says to lay the corset on a clean table or in a wash tub and scrub with a brush and hot soap suds. After scrubbing it should be rinsed several times then pulled and stretched lengthwise to remove wrinkles. It should then be hung in the sun and when almost dry it should be worn for a few minutes to to stretch it to the correct shape. Then rehung to dry completely. 

I like the technique of putting the corset on when damp to give it the correct shape. But scrubbing? I'm nervous about scrubbing the corset. Maybe sponging would be better. I'd given this corset a light wash before, but now it needs a real cleaning. If anyone has any tips that can help I would love to hear them, otherwise I'll just wait until there is a sunny day and get to work. 


  1. Why not just dry cleaning?

  2. I don't have a good reason why not. I guess because I figured I'd learn something if I figured out how to care for it myself.

  3. I figure a gentle scrubbing with a soft scrub brush (even an old toothbrush for the seriously soiled areas?)probably wouldn't be too hard on it. Just watch that you follow the grain of the fabric and be gentle enough to keep from stretching/damaging the fibers, esp. in a corset with material like this one.
    You might also consider starch somewhere in the latter part of the project to give it some of the crispness back -- that has always been my biggest post-washing complaint.

  4. Using a toothbrush and starch. Genius. Thank you Jenny!