Whether you’re looking to breathe new life into existing garments or make sure your next project is a statement piece, trims are the way to go. But trims, like fabrics, come in different materials that require lots of different care to keep them looking their best for a long time, so how should a garment with trims be cared for?
In general, a piece should always be cared for in reference to the most delicate material included. A cotton shirt with a silk ribbon should be treated like silk, while a rayon dress with a cotton lace trim would be cared for as if the entire thing was rayon. But some trims (and fabrics) have a lot more going on than a simple change in fiber content, so knowing how to care for things like feathers, sequins, beads, or fur is key to keeping your wardrobe looking its best for years to come.
If you’re ever in doubt about cleaning a particular combination of fabric and trim, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional cleaner—just do your research first to be sure they know about the kind of materials included.
Caring for Feather Trims
Feathers are probably the most finicky of materials to care for—they’re delicate and often colored with dyes that aren’t colorfast. The best solution is to avoid needing to clean them, but we all know that whether your garment is for a party or everyday wear, avoiding dirt completely isn’t an option.
When you do need to clean your feather trims, start by brushing out dirt. Use a clean, soft, dry brush—such as a paintbrush—and brush gently in the direction of the feathers.
If brushing isn’t enough, such as if smells or more difficult stains persist, you can hand wash your be-feathered items. Remember to wash like colors together, as the dyes may bleed.
Fill a sink or tub—depending on the size of the garment to be washed—with cool to lukewarm water and add a small amount of gentle detergent.
Add the garment to the tub and gently swish it around. Don’t agitate it too much, just enough to get the water through the trim and knock the dirt out.
Drain the tub, refill it with water and no detergent, and rinse in the same way until the water is suds-free.
Air dry. Some thinner, more delicate feathers like ostrich feathers, may look a bit scraggly after washing in this manner. They can be fluffed up with a good shake, or a hair dryer on the cool setting.
Steaming feathers to perk them up is also possible, but keep the steamer at least 6 inches away and be aware of any glues holding the feathers in place, which may react negatively to heat.
Caring for Beaded or Sequined Trims
Beaded or sequined materials add sparkle to costumes or everyday looks—and they certainly make laundry day more interesting, too.
Garments with beads and sequins should be turned inside out to wash to protect the additions from damage. Handling them delicately when washing is of utmost importance.
Hand-wash beaded and sequined garments in cool to lukewarm water with gentle detergent. Add the detergent before the garment, and swirl the garment gently in the water for 10-15 minutes.
Always air-dry the garment, but do not hang it. Due to the weight added by beads and sequins (and water, when washed), hanging it could pull the garment out of shape.
Caring for Faux Fur Trim
We all know the pain of having the cutest fur-trimmed coat and discovering that after washing it the first time, the trim has become a matted mess. While some faux fur trims do okay in the washing machine, hand washing is highly recommended, especially for those with longer piles. Either way, washing fur as little as possible is the best way to go.
When washing is unavoidable, use a gentle detergent in cool to lukewarm water and gently swirl the garment, avoiding agitation, as too much movement will cause the fur to mat and tangle.
Hang or lay flat to dry. Avoid heat sources such as tumble dryers, radiators, and heat vents, as the heat may cause the fur to warp.
When the fur is dry, use a soft-bristled brush to gently detangle any matted fibers. A wide-toothed comb may also be used to loosen up stubborn tangles.