Clothing Care, Style Secrets

Christmas Stocking Fillers

With the arrival of Advent, The Lady’s Maid’s mind has turned to the small matter of Christmas shopping. This post looks at her favourite ideas for Christmas stocking fillers with a Lady’s Maid’s leaning.

Liberty Print Sewing Roll Kit, John Lewis, £15.95

 

 

No Lady’s Maid would be without a sewing kit. This useful sewing kit from Liberty has everything you’ll need to make basic sewing alterations on the go. Features a classic ‘The Strawberry Thief’ Liberty print.

Katie Loxton Travel Jewellery Case, “Sparkle Everyday”, John Lewis, £19.99

 

 

This pretty gold leather heart jewellery case, lined with grey suede, is the perfect travel accessory to keep your jewels safe on the go so you can sparkle every day everywhere!

Cashmere Pilling Comb, M&S, £5

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If Father Christmas has brought you a luxury cashmere jumper this year, you will need to give it plenty of TLC to keep it in top condition. Knitwear is prone to pilling (little bobbles) after wear, so a pilling comb is essential for all those who covet cashmere. (See Caring for Cashmere for more tips on the care of woollen knitwear).

Golden Lily Lavender Eye Mask, Morris & Co., £16  

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If the festive season gets a little too much, you can relax in style with this Golden Lily Lavender Eye Mask from Morris & Co., featuring a classic William Morris print.

Vintage & Co. Fabrics & Flowers Scented Drawer Liners, Heathcote & Ivory, £7

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Scented drawer liners will help keep your clothing fresh as well as repelling bugs such as moths. These vintage fabric and flowers patterned liners from Heathcote & Ivory will also add a touch of colour to your drawers and shelves. (Fragrance Notes: Orange Blossom, Sweet Birch, Gardenia, Jasmine, Rose, Lilac, Coconut, Peach, Amber and Vanilla). See The Scourge of the Moth for more tips on how to repel this pesky pest.

Mini Initial Lavender Pillow, Museum Selection, £9

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Delicate, hand-embroidered cotton pillows filled with lavender inspired by Victorian embroidery. Lavender is particularly hated by moths, so place these in your knitwear drawers to help keep moths at bay.

“Star of Wonder” Myrrh & Opium Flower Scented Candle, M&S, £7.50

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Christmas candles create a cosy ambience on winter nights at home – this Myrrh and Opium candle from M&S is subtle and exotic without being overpowering.

L’Occitane Refreshing Verbena Bauble, M&S, £12

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The Lady’s Maid’s dainty hands suffer in wintertime, especially when she is hand-washing delicates! This festive bauble will add a little luxury to your hand-care. Inside the gold bauble there are three L’Occitane verbena surprises: verbena soap gently cleanses, and the hand cream and body lotion protect and moisturise hands and skin, leaving behind an invigorating scent.

Twelve Poems for Christmas, Seren, £5

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A sparkling anthology of Christmas-themed poems to peruse over the festive season.

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Chocolate Handbag & Heels, John Lewis, £7

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Stylish and tasty – the perfect gift for every shoe-loving lady!

How to Dress for Success, V&A Shop, £9.99

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Edith Head, Hollywood designer to the stars, offers no-nonsense fashion advice straight from the 1960s. There is still much to learn today from Head’s witty style tips and delightful drawings. Bound in real cloth with ribbon page marker and foil embossing.

Happy Advent!

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Clothing Care, Style Secrets

White Wear

Inspired by the ‘all white wear’ rule that tennis players are obliged to adhere to at Wimbledon this week, The Lady’s Maid has picked out her favourite white pieces for summer. White is a very versatile colour to have in your wardrobe in summer and winter – from crisp white collared shirts to broderie anglaise summer tops. Like black, it’s a colour that never goes out of fashion and can be paired with almost any other colour. The only downside being that white shows up marks and stains more easily so The Lady’s Maid also recommends some products to care for your precious whites.

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Scalloped dress, £1,950, Valentino; White cotton cami, £29, Warehouse; white jade Cabochon Drop Hook Earrings, £99, Dyrberg/Kern at John Lewis; slingback loafers, £475, Tabitha Simmons; lace bomber jacket, £107, Ted Baker; lace dress, £140, Reiss; sunglasses, £16, Top Shop; cropped trousers, £145, Reiss; across body bag, £250, Coach; cutwork broiderie shorts, £26, Top Shop; white lace espadrille flats, £115, L K Bennett.

Top Tips for Washing Whites

  • Treat stained areas properly prior to washing – rinse stain in cold water first and then treat with an appropriate stain removal product eg. Vanish or Stain Devils.
  • Wash as hot as the garment label allows using a powder detergent rather than a gel or liquid (powder detergents contain brightening agents)
  • Keep your washing machine clean – run the machine on the hottest wash with a cup of white vinegar once a month.
  • White tops will suffer more than colours from perspiration stains – so wash more frequently than colours to prevent permanent yellowing.
  • Add a whitening powder to the wash for even brighter whites e.g. Vanish Gold Oxi-action for whites powder.

 

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Clothing Care, Top Tips

Caring for Cashmere

The Lady’s Maid embraces the colder weather that winter brings as it is an opportunity to luxuriate in cosy cashmere sweaters. But the delicate nature of cashmere wool requires extra special care and attention to keep it in tip top condition that will see you through the winter this season and many seasons to come.

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Cashmere is a very fine natural hair fibre obtained from goats; garments made of cashmere are much softer than lambswool and tend to be much more expensive. Its smoothness also makes it more wearable than lambswool which can feel slightly scratchy against the skin. The Lady’s Maid has offered guidance below on how best to wash, dry and store cashmere to prevent damaging the delicate fibres.

Washing

  • When washing cashmere turn the garment inside out and gently hand-wash in cool/lukewarm water and a gentle liquid detergent suitable for hand-washing such as Woolite or a specialist cashmere shampoo.
  • Make sure that the detergent is dissolved thoroughly in the water before adding the clothing (add hot water first to dissolve the detergent and then top up with cold water to achieve a cool temperature).
  • Use a squeezing movement, rather than rubbing which can cause felting and damage the fibres.
  • Rinse in cool water to remove all traces of the detergent.
  • Loss of dye can occur in coloured garments when hand-washing especially if the garment is new. It is therefore advisable to wash new garments on their own to minimise the risk of colour run to other garments.

Drying

  • Never tumble dry cashmere or any wool garment as this will shrink the garment.
  • Do not ring dry as this will cause structural damage to the fibres.
  • Gently squeeze after rinsing and then roll in a clean towel to remove excess moisture and leave to dry flat on a soft dry towel.
  • Reshape whilst damp to maintain the shape of the garment.
  • Do not hang on a hanger to dry as this will stretch the fibres.
  • Iron on the reverse with a medium hot iron using a damp pressing cloth to prevent shiny marks from forming.

Storing

  • Cashmere knitwear is best kept folded in your wardrobe or drawers to prevent the delicate fibres from stretching on clothes hangers. Some finer knitwear can be hung on hangers to prevent creasing but, make sure you use suitable hangers that protect the shoulder area as much as possible.
  • When storing cashmere garments long term always protect them from pests by packing in a special knitwear bag such as this one from Brora or in a similar breathable clothing bag, this is essential as moths adore cashmere. See Seasonal Storage for further tips on storing clothes.

Pilling

Bobbling or “Pilling” is common in knitwear and is caused by repeated wear of garments which causes fibres to loosen and form little balls. Pick off bobbles with a sweater comb or a bobble remover gadget/clothes shaver or individually with a disposable razor. Take care when using gadgets/combs on delicate wools as you risk damaging the rest of the garment.


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bobble remover

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knitwear comb


The Lady’s Maid Recommends:

These are The Lady’s Maid’s recommendations for quality cashmere garments:

  • Brora – quality cashmere specialist, beautifully made and timeless pieces. A large range of patterns and colours. All garments made in Scotland.
  • Marks & Spencer – reasonably priced classic cashmere jumpers and cardigans.
  • Johnstons of Elgin – scottish supplier of classic cashmere garments since 1797.
  • The White Company – elegant neutral shades of classic cashmere.

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Clothing Care, Top Tips

The Scourge of The Moth

“The old definition of moth was, ‘anything that gradually, silently eats, consumes, or wastes any other thing.’ It was a verb for destruction too. . . . ”

– Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

There is one creature that really tests the otherwise impeccable and unflappable demeanour of The Lady’s Maid, and that is the clothes moth. It indiscriminately wreaks havoc within the finest of wardrobes across the land, ravaging the most expensive and luxurious of clothing in its path. So what should one do if ones winter woollens fall victim to the scourge of the dreaded moth?  If your winter wardrobe is full of cosy cashmere and luxury knitwear, then I applaud you for your excellent taste, but unfortunately for you the moth has exquisite taste to match. In fact, the finer the yarn the more digestible it is, so angora, fur and cashmere are akin to banquet food for moths. Clothing made of animal protein fibres only, eg. silk, wool, fur and leather are the textiles most at risk from moth attack. The damage itself is not caused by the adult moth but by the larvae which the female moths produce, these larvae burrow across protein fibres within the textile eating it as they go and leaving behind holes in the fabric. It is worth mentioning here that the moths most likely to cause trouble in your wardrobe are the common clothes moth and the case-bearing clothes moth, which are generally smaller and paler in colour in comparison to the large brown house moths that you may find flying around kamikaze style into the light of your bedside lamp. These larger house moths prefer feeding on plant material, so they are not as keen on your clothing.

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Recognising a moth attack

Clothes moths live quite happily in warm and dark areas, so you may not even notice that you have a problem until you bring out your winter clothing after storing it for the summer months. If you notice large ragged holes in your knitwear, then this is probably a result of a moth attack. Other signs could be the presence of little eggs about the size of a pin-head; these then hatch into larvae, which look like creamy white caterpillars which then feed on the clothing fibres leaving behind trails that look similar to wispy cobwebs.

Treating a moth infestation

  • Remove all clothing from wardrobe units, even if it isn’t visibly damaged. Wash or dry-clean to kill any moth eggs or larvae that may be present on the clothing. Brushing clothing or ironing with a hot iron (between a damp pressing cloth if necessary) will also destroy moth eggs.
  • Thoroughly vacuum and clean the wardrobe and room, paying particular attention to the cracks and crevices of the wardrobe and the corners of the room in case any moths are hiding under carpets. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately as this will be a dream home for moths – if you have sucked up any larvae they will set up residence inside the bag.
  • To trap adult male moths and prevent them from breeding place a moth trap inside the wardrobe, available from www.mothprevention.com.The strip contains powder saturated with female pheromones which will attract and trap the male moths preventing them from reproducing and causing any further damage. Use a pesticide spray such as Moth Stop Spray, available from Lakeland Ltd. Spray on infested areas, paying particular attention to the cracks and crevices of the units. Remember never to spray pesticides directly on clothing – all clothing should be removed from the wardrobe before any pesticide is used.
  • For clothing that is damaged, isolate the garment by placing in a cellophane bag and then into a freezer for 2-3 days. This will kill the moth and any moth eggs or larvae present. On removal from the freezer leave the garment in the bag until it is brought back to room temperature. It may be possible to repair damaged woollen garments by darning if the holes are not too big. If the damage is very bad and the garment is valuable to you take it to a professional seamstress to repair. There is a process called “invisible mending” where threads are taken from the seam allowance of the garments and re-weaved over the hole by hand. www.invisible-mending.co.uk
  • If after returning your clothing to the wardrobe you notice further insect damage, then it may be necessary to seek help from a professional to treat the infestation. See www.rentokil.co.uk for further advice.

Preventing future moth attacks

The following steps should be taken to prevent future moth attacks:

  • Keep your house as clean and dust-free as possible – vacuum and dust regularly, especially the wardrobe space and clothing storage areas. The wardrobe should be cleaned out thoroughly a couple of times a year – perhaps when you are rotating the clothes with the seasons. Re-line drawers with lavender or cedar-scented lining paper eg. Cedar Rose Draw Liners from The White Company. The bedroom/dressing room, along with the rest of the house, should be deep cleaned once every month to prevent a build up of dust and dirt. Deep-cleaning is a thorough clean where furniture is moved and cleaned underneath, inside and out. Every surface, nook and cranny is thoroughly dusted, cleaned and vacuumed.
  • Utilise insect repellents to deter the pests. Lavender sachets or cedar wood blocks are the Lady’s Maid’s particular favourites as they are natural and will also make the clothes smell nice. John Lewis and  Lakeland Ltd sell good ranges; Cologne & Cotton also sells some pretty lavender sachets. Replace or re-fill every season as the moth-repelling properties will wear off over time.
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Cedar Wardrobe Fresheners: John Lewis

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Lavender Sachets: John Lewis

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Lavender Sachets: Cologne & Cotton

  • If you buy a vintage garment or any second-hand clothing made of animal fibres, always wash or dry-clean before putting in your wardrobe to minimise the risk of transporting any larvae that may be present on the clothing.
  • Always wash or dry-clean clothes before long-term storage and pack away properly (see post one on seasonal storage). Pay particular attention to clothing that is made of protein fibres: wool, fur, feather, leather.

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