Five yards of pure joy:
After those wonderful blog posts where you needed to go back to physiology and pathology of the skin here is some light-hearted fun stuff for those of us who love to dress up.
Have you wept over a torn saree?
Did you cringe when you spilled that wine or coffee or coke on that favorite piece of silk?
Does your saree have a musky smell?
Worry no more here are some tips and tricks to enjoy the beauty of these woven threads for generations to come.
These yards of fabric that brings us not only pure joy for the moment but make us feel like an elegant bride or in some instances a princess but mostly always beautiful.
Sarees: can be spelled as Sari too, is an iconic garment that has survived western clothing and is still worn as a daily wear.
There are several saree types and materials. I will cover the commonest material we tend to cherish and use.
Queen of sarees: The Silk Saree
Silk is obtained from the silkworm. The outer covering of the cocoon makes raw silk and the inner thread of the cocoon is the fine silk.
Silk is a protein as it comes from the live pupa. The way it is obtained is by the premature killing of the larvae before they can break open through the cocoon they have spun. The quality of the silk is based on the leaves the larvae feed on. The mulberry leaves are commonly used. However, the type of leaves eaten creates and differentiates the types of silk.
Silk is usually woven by hand and hence makes it a precious garment to be handed over through generations.
India has several types of silk from Assam silk, Banaras, Kanchipuram, crepe silk etc. the type of silk is named according to its origin, type of larvae the leaves they ate and weave.
In general, the silk is a protein can easily degrade with time.
Keeping it safe and fresh is a challenge.
Care of your Silky Solace:
Silk can have Zari work which can be with the silver thread if it were made in the 1950’s and 1960’s. ( now you need to be a billionaire to have this made for you). This thread work can easily fray. Keeping the thread work intact requires constant care and use.
When not in use keep it covered well with muslin.
If it is silver thread then it does change color over the years.
Using pins can change the direction of the threads and make it more susceptible to fraying.
So to summarize:
- Silk is protein.
- It can be washed with cold water if it is pre-washed silk only, otherwise dry clean
- It needs to be folded and refolded so the fold does not fray
- The thread work needs to be protected from being oxidized.
- When putting it out to dry stretch and keep it away from sunlight.
- Do not machine
- When ironing put another thin layer of cloth between the silk and the iron.
Care of the Charming Cotton: Our next awesome fabric:
Cotton is a plant protein and can be dyed and starched.
When washing it care should be used to avoid mixing colors and warm or hot water.
Pure cotton can be heated and will not damage the fabric. People rarely wear pure cotton and this is usually mixed with silk or polyester.
Chlorine bleach can be used safely on cotton whites. Use color safe bleach on dyed cotton.
Since cotton, fibers are inelastic cotton fabrics may wrinkle easily. In addition, the fabric may need frequent pressing.
There is nothing to match the crisp cotton saree starched and pleated and easy to maintain though not easy to get ready.
To make the care and wear easy it has been blended with silk or polyester or another material to make it more pliable and less maintenance.
It is prone to wrinkling unless it is treated with a wrinkle-resistant finish.
A higher heat setting is needed in the dryer to dry cotton. Cotton will take much longer to dry than less absorbent fibers.
Always look at the label.
Today cotton is mostly blended with other threads for different finishes.
As it is easy to wash the care of cotton blend is usually easy.
Linen is also a plant-based fabric from flax seeds. Again there are several blends and the labels will let you know the kind of care it needs.
Linen is a garment that can become soft as you wear and wash (therefore the aging look of an expensive fabric).
A lot of the finer linen sarees need to be dry cleaned.
White linens should be dried in the sun if to help them to keep their whiteness.
Some Miscellaneous fabric sarees:
- Machine washables:: Nylon and polyester.
- Never wash ones are: Satin.
- Wool needs to have 24 hours before wearing again. Can be pressed but use caution and read labels.
- Net sarees and Tissue all need to be dry cleaned.
Removal of stains:
The washable sarees you can always remove the stains.
However, the ones that cannot come in contact with water,( like satin) always give it for dry cleaning sooner the better.
A Unique garment very difficult to get are the handlooms:
Always soak in salt water for a few minutes before wash to prevent bleeding of color.
The best way to show you how to remove stains is through this infographic.
So Some simple rules:
These yards of joy and beauty can be an asset that can be handed down generations. If you have chosen wisely and invested wisely then make sure you follow through with care:
- Fold and refold.
- If you choose to wash, dry with rolling it in a towel and not wringing it
- Remove stains immediately.
- Pre-washed materials can be washed.
- Cold water is better, warm water fixes stains
- Dry by spreading it and away from sunlight.
- Chlorine bleach is only for whites particularly cotton.
- With linen, the whites are best dried under sunlight
- If washing at home start with one corner and make sure the color does not run.
- Use cider block to keep fresh, no direct contact with naphthalene balls.
- Neem leaves keep away insects if in a warm climate.
- Fold and refold.
Above all be proud to have been born in this country that has so many artisans who made so many designs and so many garments and so many ways to keep us beautiful and elegant and colorful.
Enjoy this to the fullest and teach the next generation the beauty of this iconic garment.
Here is an infographic summarizing your care: print and post in your closet