Men have been heard to say that women never brush their dresses. However untrue that sweeping assertion may be, it is certain that too little attention is paid to freeing dresses from the dust of the house and soil of the street. It is an excellent plan, upon taking off a dress, to brush it carefully all over with a small (not too stiff) wisp broom, giving particular care to all trimmings where plaits or gathers make lodgments for the dust. If there is much upon the dress, rub it off with a coarse towel or a wad of worsted goods. An excellent brush for cleaning woolen or silk dresses can be made by covering a square block of wood with furniture plush.
Ladies who are in mourning suffer much inconvenience from the injury caused by drops of water falling upon their crape, for each drop makes a conspicuous white mark. If, while wet, these are clapped between the hands until dry, no spots will appear. If the crape has dried without their removal, lay it upon a table and put under spots a piece of old black silk; dip a camel's hair pencil in black ink and paint the spots lightly; then wipe them off with old soft silk, and the color will be restored.
Partly worn fabrics may often be profitably renewed by calling in the dyer's art. Some people have excellent success in using family dyes, and for them it will be an object to color many useful things, for which it would not be worth while to pay a professional dyer's charge. Ribbons, neckties, trimmings and many small things which need patience and careful manipulation can be colored beautifully at home. Stockings, linings, and odds and ends that might not otherwise be used, can also be advantageously subjected to the amateur process, but for material that is to be remade into dresses it would be wisdom to employ the best professional skill. Some things, such as merinos and cashmere, are worth dyeing at almost any price, and will look like new when they are done. Silk dyes well for some purposes, but will never look like new after the process, even if the dyer promises that it will; hence it is a mistake to use it conspicuously after dyeing. It can be used as the basis of a costume, where the lines are broken by drapery, etc., or it will cut up admirably for trimmings, but large surfaces of it should be avoided, as giving opportunity for the eye to catch sundry symptoms, such as streaks and a general limpness, which at once reveal the secret.
Irish poplins dye well, but have the one objection of shrinking lamentably. This should be taken into consideration in purchasing one of light color, and an extra piece, sufficient for a new waist, should be included in the original quantity.
Velvets can be colored, but although the nap is beautifully raised when done by an expert, they lose much in appearance, and a velvet which cost ten dollars a yard will have the general expression of one which costs less than a quarter of that sum. The cost of dyeing velvet is very great, and with such a result to be expected as has just been explained, it would be much better to buy good new cotton-back, silk-faced velvet.
Nearly all wool materials, unless too loosely woven, color well, but mixtures of cotton and wool will not pay for the cost of dyeing. Japanese silks and silk-faced matelasses do not dye satis factorily.
White woolen goods will not, as people seem to think, take every color; on the contrary, there are but few shades that they will become. Light and Mexican-blue, nut-brown, slate, stone color, lavender, jacqueminot scarlet, rose and several of the very dark new shades are those which can be most certainly obtained. The reason for this limitation is because the sulphur with which the wool is whitened in the manufacture prevents most colors from taking hold evenly, to use a technical expression.
Alpaca is an exception to most fabrics composed of two materials. It dyes well and does not shrink very much,
Light blue will dye medium and navy-blue, purple, crimson, green, prune, claret and black.
Claret will dye brown, black, crimson and bottle green.
Brown will dye darker brown, claret, black and green.
Amber will dye green, scarlet, crimson, black and brown.
Crimson will dye black, brown, claret and dark green. A lighter shade of crimson will dye black, brown, claret, dark green, blue, and a darker self-shade.
Drab will dye scarlet, crimson, green - both light and dark - purple, dark blue, and claret.
Light green will dye claret, brown, black and crimson.
Dark green will dye brown, black and claret.
Lavender will dye brown, black, garnet, dark blue, green, plum and prune.
Mauve will dye dark blue, black, claret, crimson, green and purple.
Navy-blue will dye brown, green, claret and black.
Magenta will dye purple, scarlet, crimson, azuline and navy-blues, black, browns and claret.
Purple will dye black, dark crimson, claret and dark green.
Pink will dye blue in most shades, all the reddish tones of color, medium and dark blues, black and most of the dark colors, including greens.
Scarlet will dye dark green and blue, black, brown, garnet and crimson
Straw color will take almost any color except light blue, lavender and pink
Slate will dye green, purple, plum, navy-blue, several shades of brown and black.
Black and all the dark colors, if grown rusty or faded, can be dyed again the original color. They may turn out a little darker, but unless the material has ugly spots which require more dye to conceal, the color will be nearly the same as when new.
Plaid goods, if thick and unmixed with cotton, will often take a plain color, which should be at least as dark as the darkest shade in the pattern. Black and white checks prove an exception to this; as, if skillfully done, they can be dyed scarlet or light blue, the white blocks taking the color and the black remaining black.
It is damaging to dresses and other garments to lie by in a faded and dirty state; therefore, if coloring them is in anticipation, it is best to prepare and send them to the dyers. After they are redressed they can be laid away till required, and will take no harm.
Velveteen will dye and look very well at first, but being all cotton its renewed good looks fade very quickly. For furniture or house decoration it might pay to have it done, but otherwise it is hardly to be advocated.