Know Your Fabrics!!

Cotton: Drapeable, durability and absorbent natural fiber made from the cotton plant. (Genus Gossypium). Cotton is comfortable and soft. The best property is, it absorbs and releases perspiration quickly.

Cotton does not need much maintenance it is a durable fabric that can be washed in a washing machine using warm water and soap, but be careful when putting dark-coloured cottons in the dryer as this will cause the color to fade over time. Use a hot iron to remove wrinkles, but remember not to iron over the stains as this will end up ‘setting’ the stains permanently.

Cotton will shrink the first time it is washed. Check the care instructions on the inside tag for any special exceptions.

Wool: Wool is obtained from a variety of animals. Wool is generally a weak fiber, though clothing is sometimes made stronger by the addition of recycled wool fibers. Wool is a resilient fabric and is pretty resistant to dirt.

Don’t wash wool too often! Washing wool too frequently can wear out the fabric, and shorten its life. If a wool garment gets damp, hang it out of direct sunlight. Never put wool clothing in the dryer as that is likely to result in shrinking. If a label says “Dry Clean Only” take the garment to a professional dry cleaner for the best results.

Silk: Silk is made from the fibers of the cocoon of the silkworm. It is spun into a smooth, shiny and sleek fabric. Silk absorbs moisture, which makes it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s biodegradable.

Most silks are better dry cleaned, but some are washable. Wash with cold water and a mild soap. Handmade eco-friendly soap is best. Never use bleach products with your silk. Use a low setting on an iron to remove any persistent wrinkles. Never iron silk when fully dry. Instead, iron your silk when it’s just a bit damp.

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Your style and fashion for the rains!

Monsoon is here!!!  The cloudy weather should not cloud your sense of style. Your monsoon should be more colourful than the crowd at Lady Gaga’s concert. Go ahead and enjoy the showers, but don’t forget to complement the weather with your hip sense of fashion.

Follow some interesting tips on how to dress well even when it’s pouring cats and dogs. Don’t let the rain catch you off-hand, when it rains you will be ready for it.

Fabrics: Fabrics play an integral role in the monsoon clothing. You need fabric that dries easily. Monsoon is the time for fabrics like cotton blends, crepes in shades of emerald greens and sky blues, poly-cottons, georgettes and chiffons are best. These fabrics do not get spoiled in the rain and also need not be ironed and they do not look all wrinkled and worn out at the end of the day on a rainy day.

Colours: Colour is the mantra for the season. Infuse your wardrobe with bright colors like pink, aqua, blue, lime, magenta, bright green, red and yellow. These are the colours that will inject your life with the much wanted flamboyance. A lot of mix and match of colors for clothing add fun to monsoon fashion.

Dress up monsoon: Shorts and mini dresses are very cool options for monsoon clothing it can be a show-stopper. Stick to short sleeved jackets. Jeans too can be given a fold at the ankles to make a style statement. Avoid thick material.

Footwear: Footwear should be kept in mind. Go for matching rain-proof shoes, flat rubber chappals, loafers or strappy sandals. Do not wear leather or suede.

Suede it is!

A suede blazer is a welcome addition to anyone’s wardrobe. Rich and luxurious, suede always makes a statement and it goes with almost anything. Suede requires a bit of attention, however, and if you want to make your suede last for a long time, you’ll have to take the time to clean and care for it properly.

Suede is created from the underside of the leather hide. The fibers are treated and raised to create its trademark soft and velvety feel. Suede is a lovely material – warm, soft and cuddly. Too bad it’s such a terrible beast to clean. In general, have suede garments professionally cleaned. This can be costly but the most effective way to ensure the safety of your fabric. If you must clean your own, follow these guidelines.

  • The best way to deal with suede is to care for it well. Always clean suede before storing it. Suede can be brushed with a soft rubber or bristle brush, or a wire suede brush. Do not rub too hard and do it in a gentle circular motion.
  • Never use chemical fluid or spot remover on suede as the color of the garment will run and you will actually get light rings around the stain.
  • Most marks on suede can be brushed off with a stiff brush, a damp cloth or sponge. However grease and oil can be a real struggle to remove from suede.
  • Suede is very prone to getting water marks. Once the suede is dry you can remove water marks from suede by brushing with a suede brush or stiff upholstery brush. You can also use a damp cloth or sponge. If ordinary brushing does not do the trick then try rubbing the area lightly with emery board, then steam over a boiling kettle.(Be careful with the steam)
  • Remember that stains on leather and suede should be professionally treated. This is always the best option. You never know how the leather was treated during the making of your fabric and what will happen if you try to clean it yourself.

If you’re going to be storing your blazer, remove the plastic dry cleaning bag first since suede needs to breathe. Instead, store it in a pillowcase or cloth garment bag. Whatever you do, don’t store it uncovered where it can sit in the sunlight for prolonged periods of time because the sun will cause it to fade. Don’t store it in the basement or any other damp area either as suede is prone to mold and mildew.

Now that you know how to care for suede, there’s no reason for you not to own suede clothing. As long as you keep it well protected and take it to the dry cleaner periodically, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t last a long time.

Just Threads!

For a minute stop doing whatever you are doing and imagine life without threads! Sewing threads are truly the “ties that bind” our garments together. Without them, we would still be draping skins, furs or material across our bodies to keep out the wind, weather and unwanted attention. Like an artist’s palette, sewing threads come in a rainbow of colours, and are available in various materials and sizes.

Thread has been essential to humans since the first garments were made for warmth and protection. Early sewing thread consisted of thin strips of animal hide that were used to stitch together larger pieces of hide and fur. The advance of civilizations brought many refinements in clothing and adornments, including the spinning and dyeing of thread.

Cotton Thread: Cotton or cotton-polyester threads are probably the most common thread choices of seamstresses because of the thread’s strength, durability and ease of use. They create a well-defined line of machine stitches. Cotton thread is readily available in wide range of colours and is suitable for light to medium weight cotton, rayon and linen fabrics.

Silk:  Silk embroidery thread hardly breaks and has its own unique, and probably the best sheen.

Rayon Thread: It is silk like in appearance for decorative stitching, and appliqué monograms. 100% Rayon is strong but fine, making it suitable for machine embroidery.

Polyester:  Polyester thread is more durable than Rayon but it is not as attractive. However, this type of embroidery thread hardly shrinks or fades, and if combined with Rayon, the effect they provide is nearly indistinguishable. It is also cheaper than Rayon thread.

Nylon Thread: It is a fine, soft, stretchy but strong thread for sewing light to medium weight synthetics. Most important is its ability to stretch and recover its sheen and filled in appearance

Metallic Threads: These are speciality threads that can add sparkle to apparel sewing but are quite fragile. Not recommended for garments that will receive rough or heave use

Special-effect: Like the name suggests, this type of thread can be used to create different design effects, such as crewel-like effect. Some of the special effect threads change colours under sunlight, or may glow in the dark.

Several different types of sewing thread exist for today’s high speed sewing machines and for sewing by hand.  Choosing the correct sewing thread can make or break your sewing project.

“Dial Up” the Heat against Summer Stains

Its summer, which means more time spent lazing in the park, playing in the yard, working around the house, sweating by buckets, and generally eating and drinking with abandon. However, all those messy activities leave some unfortunate evidence behind in the form of stains on our clothes.

Summer clothes are subjected to sweat, grease, grass, and dozens of other indignities that our winter wear may never understand. Tough stains may be part of the summer territory, but they don’t have to linger year-round. With a little know-how, even the toughest summer stains can expire just as quickly as a captured lightning bug in a jar.

Sweat: The most common summer stains are caused by antiperspirant and perspiration. Sometimes yellow or tan stains, streaks, or rings appear after dry cleaning, laundering, or just after a period of time in use or storage. There may also be sudden local colour loss areas on or near the neck edge, wrists, and underarm areas of silk blouses.
If you are sweating profusely, dry your armpits with paper towels to prevent over-wetting of the fabric. Treat the clothing with a prewash stain remover and then launder the clothing in the hottest water recommended using an enzyme detergent and oxygen bleach.

Suntan lotion: Suntan lotion can get on clothes, bathing suits, canvas beach chairs and pool-side cushions. If the item can be laundered, treat it with a pre-wash stain remover and launder with the hottest water safe for the fabric. If it can’t be laundered, check the manufacturer’s care instructions for the fabric.

Grass: Detergent does a pretty good job removing grass stains, but to get the maximum effect, apply Spray n’ Wash before laundering the affected clothes.

Mud: Before trying to remove mud from fabric, leave it to dry thoroughly. Then brush off what you can. Follow the instructions for grass, using maximum agitation, as the pigment gets caught within the fibers. For light stains, cut a raw potato in half and rub the stain before washing as usual.

Food Stains: Our love of spicy food can spell danger! Whether it’s a wedding, a picnic, a family reunion or a party on the patio, some foods are recurrent visitors on the summer menu. Speed and pre-treatment is essential in treating these stains, so jump to it.
Fruit juices Soak washable garments immediately in cold water for 30 minutes. Pre treat with liquid laundry detergent, and then launder in warm water

Ice cream: Soak clothing in cold water until stain is gone, and then hand launders in warm, soapy water. If the stain was from chocolate ice cream, or if there’s still some grease left, sponge with dry-cleaning fluid. When the stain is gone, launder as usual.

Who doesn’t love catching the ongoing IPL, a concert or a splash in the water park during the warm summer months? But there is a common element of all these exciting events that no one loves — concession stand food stains! Frets not just hand over your garments to Fabric Spa and, you can enjoy the warm weather without letting summer stains ruin your fun.

Lounging around in Linen

The word linen conjures in our minds, images of bed, bath and kitchen fabrics and occasionally of clothes and articles of attire. This is because traditionally linen was used as a household textile because of its high absorbency and softness. It is still the most popular choice for household fabrics and home furnishing items, and has become synonymous with it. Linen is a favourite in the kitchen because of its insulating and cooling properties and therefore makes it the perfect material for oven mitts and napkins. Its texture and durability also make it the ideal fabric for bed linens and towels.

This workhorse of a fabric has slowly gained popularity even in the apparel section, and is now edging its way into what used to be exclusively the territory of cotton. With the sweltering sun blazing on us nowadays, the perfect material for us to lounge around in is linen. Linen is a breezy, light weight and a comfortable material, which is also highly absorbent. It is perfect for scorching Indian summers. It is considered an ideal choice as it is soft and supple to touch, and yet appears crisp and even when worn.

Linen is made from the ‘flax’ plant and its name is derived from ‘linum’ which is the Latin word for flax. It is the only raw material used in the manufacture of pure linen. The quality of this fabric depends on the growing conditions and harvesting techniques of the flax and also on the yarning, weaving and knitting methods of the fibre subsequently.

Linen may not as smooth as cotton to touch but it is more durable in nature, with resistance to high temperature and negligible shrinkage. It does not have the tendency to pill or form balls of fabric on the cloth. Some lower quality linen might have on them small knots along its length which are known as ‘slurbs’.

It is an easy fabric to look after with it being relatively less prone to dirt and lint than other fabrics. It has also proven resistant to moths and carpet beetles and has very few and simple rules of care:

  • As mentioned in an earlier post dry clean is recommended for linen to retain its original crisp finish.
  • Hand washing is also advised if you want to soften the fabric. It continues to become softer with each use and wash.
  • Linen can be machine-washed, dry cleaned or hand washed and requires much less care than silk or cotton.
  • It does have a tendency to wrinkle.  Ironing of linen should be done while damp to remove wrinkles but never to dry the fabric
  • Linen should be laid flat to dry preferably on a non coloured towel.
  • It should be dried thoroughly after washing and before storage as it can also attract mildew

Beat the Indian Summer!!

Scorching heat and constant sweating is part ‘n parcel of Indian summers. It’s difficult to keep up with fashion during this time of the year, as our bodies, minds and clothing tend to wander to the outdoor mode. With changing times everyone is very particular about the apparel and the choice for clothes change season wise. While choosing the best ones, the feel-good and look-good factor cannot be compromised at any cost. With changing fashion trends, everyone have become more conscious about the summer dressing and here is one handy article focusing on the ways to enjoy the sun and feel relaxed with best summer clothes.

And a quick tip: It’s best to go easy on the colors of your outfit. While exotic,  decorative and colourful outfits suit best during parties, casual caparison work well during picnics and informal meetings. Stick to light shades on the clothes and this  summer will definitely be a cool experience. So now let’s take a look at the kinds of fabric you should choose for summers.

Cotton: Of course cotton would be one choice — it’s lightweight and comfortable. However, if it’s an extra-humid day and you’re going to be sweating a lot there’s better options. Cotton likes to absorb water so your sundress will become heavy and cling to your skin as the day wears on.

Linen: It’s also lightweight and has a porous weave that allows heat to escape away from your body. Plus, it’s highly absorbent so it removes moisture from your skin quickly. While it can be stiff, especially if pressed and starched, it won’t cling to your body.

Denim: Denim is also a popular fabric for summer times. It is made from tightly  woven cotton and is breathable, sweat-absorbent just like cotton. However, when compared to pure cotton, denim is heavier than it. Therefore, one must go for lightweight denim in order to keep cool in summers.

Lightweight wools: Not many people know that, with correct engineering, wool can be made to act as a very cool fabric for summer heat. The astonishing and interesting fact about summer suits is that they are made of light weight wool apart from cotton and linen.

With the hot scorching sun over the head, the first thing that comes to our mind while selecting an outfit is the type of material, quality and of course colours. Light and airy dresses are most comfortable during the heat. The extra large sized clothes available in the market are not only comfy enough, they are also great to look and stylish. By summer plus size clothes I mean those which allow free movement of body parts and are thinner and soft. These also help in reducing risk of skin infection due to friction. What’s more? Evaporation of the body sweat is easier and makes you feel fresh all the time!

Timeless Cashmere

It’s not possible to talk about wool and not think of cashmere. With its silky, luxurious texture and soft hue, cashmere ranks as one of the most popular types of wool all over the world.

From warm sweaters to bohemian scarves, cashmere garments are considered timeless, tasteful, and elegant. Wear them to occasions -whether casual or intimate -and you’ll find that you’ll stand out in sleek comfort. This is why the popularity of cashmere has only grown with the years.

Consider your cashmere garment as an heirloom, and treat it as you would any treasured keepsake. Getting jitters on how to appropriately maintain such a valuable treasure? Alright, here are some instructions on about how to clean and care for your cashmere collection.

Washing Instructions:

  • Many care labels recommend dry cleaning cashmere, but you can gently hand-wash most cashmere knits in cool water with a mild shampoo.
  • Keep the water temperature consistent between rinses.
  • Don’t wring your cashmere. Do not hold up a wet piece of cashmere by the shoulders, this will stretch your sweater. Keep your sweater in a lump
  • Instead, roll it up in a dry towel to get rid of the excess water, then rearrange it back into shape and let it dry flat on a fresh towel.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable removing stains yourself, take it to a dry cleaner.
  • Do not bleach.

Store it methodically:

  • It’s best to fold and store cashmere in breathable cotton clothing bags.
  • Never keep your sweaters on hangers because cashmere is delicate and hanging can cause snags or distort the shape of the shoulders.
  • Winter is gone. Make sure cashmere is clean before you put it away. Moths are attracted to natural fibres with body oils and stains.
  • Folding sweaters around tissue paper can help reduce wrinkles. If looked after properly, cashmere can be enjoyed for many many years to come.

A certain amount of pilling is normal on garments made of natural knit fibres like cashmere, even on high-quality products such. These can be safely picked off by hand.

Generally, we recommend dry cleaning for all cashmere and pashmina items.

An Insight into Coorg’s Traditional Attire!

What strikes a first-time visitor to Coorg is probably its stunning beauty – both, of nature and of the people. Not only is Coorg beautiful to look at but its people are equally good looking. They are a fun-loving race with a fascination for pork, coffee, and wine and above all good company.  It is said about the Coorgs (or Kodavas as they are locally known) “They are easier to love than to like.” One of the most hospitable people in India, the doors to their homes are always open to guests. Cosmopolitan in their outlook, they make friends easily.

The kodavas are a distinctive race of India known for their bravery since ages; they are the only race in India that has been permitted to acquire guns without a licence. Women folk, both beautiful and highly educated, occupy a predominant place in the family while the men folk, tall and handsome, look after the coffee estates.

The attractive kodava dress, unique from the rest of Indian traditional wear, has its own value in the kodava community. It is worn on special occasions like marriages, festivals or other community gatherings/ceremonies.

Kodava women drape the sari in a distinct fashion where the pallu doesn’t go over the shoulder but goes around the back, over the right shoulder and a beautifully crafted pin on the right collarbone holds it in place.

As the legend goes, when the River Kaveri came flowing down and swerved to the right at Balamuri, the force of the water pushed the pleats of the saris of the Kodava women, who were waiting there for her, from the front to the rear. It is said that ever since then, in the traditional Kodava style of draping the sari, the pleats are tucked in at the waist at the back rather than in front, as is common in most parts of India like Maharashtra.

This unique style of draping the sari helps enhance the beauty of these stunning women from the beautiful hills of Coorg. In addition to the sari, the women also wear a piece of cloth on their head called the vastra. The vastra usually matches their sari and is well adorned by skilled craftsmen. The sari, vastra and some traditional jewellery, give a very ethereal look to these brave kodava women.

The tall and handsome men of Coorg, the descendants of the warrior tribe, stand out in their unique garments as well. Being warriors, their weapons form a part of their attire. They can always be spotted and recognized as Kodava men.

The Coorg attire is a tad different from that of other Indian states. Men wear a traditional ‘Kupya’ or long, black, button less, short sleeved, V-neck coat, reaching below the knees and a ‘chaley’, a beautifully tasselled silken sash, at the waist. The ‘peechekathi’ or dagger is tucked in the sash at the right side.

Until the early 1800s, both the kupya and the chaley were made of coarse cotton cloth of different hues but now silk is predominant. Completing the attire, a hat, called the mande thuni, made of cream and gold adorns the head.

Washing Machines – Can’t Live Without Them

As a society that depends on high tech gadgets and gizmos, we tend to overlook the origin of the devices that have been built to simplify our lives. One such device is the washing machine. We could live without it if we had to, but it would be so much difficult, considering the fact that everything is about speed and multi-tasking these days.

 

Washing clothes, in general, is every housekeeper’s hardest problem. Women from all classes tried to find ways to get relief from doing laundry. Some hired washerwomen and others used commercial laundries. Eventually mechanical aids lightened the load.

Not so long ago, soaking clothes, beating them on a rock and scrubbing them was a daily routine until washing machines quickly found its way into Indian households. Washing machines are no longer a luxury it’s a necessity!

The earliest washing “machine” was the scrub board invented in 1797. American, James King patented the first washing machine to use a drum in 1851, the drum made King’s machine resemble a modern machine, however it was still hand powered.

The US also brought their contribution to the development of the washing machine, since in 1797 the first patent, called “Clothes Washing”, was granted to Nathaniel Briggs. However, the patent office was destroyed in a great fire, which means that there is no description of the device out there. A device that combined a washing machine with a wringer mechanism did not appear until 1843, when John E. Turnbull patented a “Clothes Washer with Wringer Rolls.”

In the late 1800s, companies started producing hand operated machines that used paddles or dollies. Then came the revolving drum from James King in 1851, which was shortly followed by a revolving drum with reversing action, from Hamilton Smith, in 1858. In the early 1900s, with the advent of small electric motors, the washing machine entered the electric age. And even though Alva J. Fisher has been credited with the invention of the first electric washing machine, it would seem that, in fact, its real inventor was Louis Goldenberg, an engineer at the Ford Motor Company.

The first companies that got involved in the production of washing machines were Maytag, Upton Machine Company (which became the Whirlpool Corporation) and Schulthess. They contributed to the development of the washing machines and their mass production. Thus, in the 1930s, the first automatic washing machine appeared, introduced by Bendix(1937). Production of Europe’s first automatic washing machines began in 1951 and in 1978 production began for the first microchip controlled automatic machines..

Washing machines nowadays have advanced to such a level that they’re basically doing everything themselves. All the operator has to do is put the clothes in the washer, select the temperature and wash settings and go about their business. There is a washing machine for virtually every need from water economy to tackling tough stains. Contemporary washing machines are available in two main configurations, top loading and front loading.

Types of washing machine:

  • Fully automatic machines
  • Semi-automatic machines
  • Front loading washer
  • Top loading washer

And this is not all – new ideas stem every day. As a proof, some modern washing machines include USB or WiFi ports, to connect to a domestic network or to the Internet. And probably pretty soon these too will be old news. So, you just sit back and stay informed, because there will surely be an outrageous washing machine coming your way when you least expect.