Every now and again costumes need some tender loving care to be performance ready. As costume companies continue to innovate their costumes, sometimes combining special and unique fabrics, these fabrications can not always withstand the basic wear and tear we expect on a regular basis. These delicate styles are placed in harm's way every time a child puts it on, increasing the odds of spills, stains and other unforeseen issues that may jeopardize the look of the costume.
At Costume Gallery we have two patternmakers, Eros Le Roi and Marian Mayberry, who are seasoned veterans in the costume industry. We asked them to provide a list of tricks of the trade to help eliminate those difficult stains and other issues that can occur on a dance costume. Many of these solutions are outlined below.
When receiving the costume, hang it up to release wrinkles. Never use an iron. Costumes should be steamed only. An easy way to accomplish this is to hang it in the bathroom when taking a shower.
Another trick is to place the garment in the dryer and set on a no heat setting, or air fluff, for 60 seconds. This can help to fluff the fibers, eliminating wrinkles.
STAINS IN GENERAL:
Try spot cleaning first with a gentle cleaner. Believe it or not, Resolve Carpet Cleaner can often work well for spot cleaning. Just be sure to test an unnoticeable area first in case the fabric is incompatible with the cleaner. If full cleaning is necessary, it is best to hand wash, inside out, using a gentle cleaner and lay flat to dry. Also, unless your stain is oil or grease related, NEVER use hot water, or anything hot for that matter, on a stain. Stains set with heat.
There is no stain as distasteful as the sweat stain. And it is very common in costumes that need to get re-worn. The best way to remove this is to use vodka. Don't drink it! Just mix 1 part vodka to 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Then mist it on the stain and pat with a towel.
This may seem a bit unpleasant, but saliva is actually an excellent remedy for blood stains. Put the saliva on a makeup pad and dab onto the stain. Then go back and feather on some cold, clear water until the stain is gone.
Either hairspray or rubbing alcohol can be a good solution for ink stains. Just make sure to place a cloth under the fabric because the alcohol will cause the ink to spread out initially. You can then apply clear, cold water
OIL BASED STAINS:
Talcum powder works well to eliminate oily stains from fabrics. Sprinkle the powder on the stain and pat it lightly. Let it sit overnight and then brush it off with a towel in the morning.
Grease can be eliminated with Dawn dishwashing soap. Just be careful with whites because the soap often has dyes which can discolor white fabrics. If using on whites, dilute the soap first.
If you have a costume with faux fur that has gotten matted down, bring it back to its' original fluffiness using a hairdryer and a fork. Comb the fur with the fork while blowing it with the hair dryer and your fur will regain new life.
Overall, always be cautious when applying any of these solutions as most costumes use fabrics that are fragile. Hopefully these methods will prove useful to allow your troupe of dancers to sparkle on stage.