Train on the loop

Problem: After a wedding dress had been drycleaned in perc the train failed to fall correctly at the back and there was unsightly wrinkling and puckering from a central point.

Cause: The structure of this garment involved stitching a hanging loop attachment for the train through both the lining and the outer fabric. During drycleaning the outer fabric has relaxed considerably producing some relaxation shrinkage and the cleaner could not have foreseen the amount of this, nor could he have avoided it. In contrast, the lining, which was standard polyester, has not moved at all. As a consequence the loop attachment point is now creating a point of stress and preventing the outer silk fabric from falling naturally and correctly, leading to the unsightly result now seen.

Responsibility: The responsibility here lies fairly and squarely with the garment maker who should never have secured a loop attachment through two dissimilar fabrics as it is only to be expected that they would relax by different amounts in drycleaning.

Rectification: The only way to rectify this garment is to remove the loop and attachment carefully so as not to damage the silk or leave any unnecessary holes and then to repress this part of the dress from damp using short strokes of a cool dry iron. The prospects for perfect rectification are very good indeed.

Releasing a blue dye

Problem: After a brown, viscose wool-jacket had been cleaned a red patch appeared at the collar fold. The owner is certain this patch was not visible prior to cleaning.

Cause: The owner is probably quite correct. The mark seen here has been caused by accidental contact with a water-based fluid containing an alcohol or something similar. It is possible to cause this type of mark with perfume and also with gin or vodka. The alcohol/water mixture tends to release the blue dye component from the viscose fibres leaving behind the red and the yellow which is why this mark now looks red. It has nothing to do with the colour of the contamination. Standard examination under light of different wavelengths indicates that no stain removal reagents or pre-treatment detergents have been applied to this fabric.

Responsibility: The responsibility here lies with the wearer but the cleaner needs to give a careful explanation so that the wearer understands why the mark was not visible prior to cleaning. Drycleaning has simply revealed the fault by flushing away the damaged dyes. The mark has not been caused by negligence or incompetence on the part of the cleaner.

Rectification: This mark needs skilled air-brush re-colouring from a suitably qualified expert, a procedure beyond the scope of the unit drycleaner.

Rubbing up against a problem

Problem: A man’s suit jacket in wool polyester had fibrous white marking towards the bottom of the right front.

Cause: The fabric in this area has been rubbed against a harsh surface that has removed surface fibres and revealed the white yarns from the interlining glued onto the reverse of the outer cloth to stiffen the fronts. The fibrous white appearance is actually broken fibres from the interlining yarns poking through the damaged surface.

Responsibility: There was no evidence on this garment of incorrect use of spatula or tamping brush that might have caused localised abrasion during processing by the cleaner. Bearing in mind the location of the marking, it is far more likely that in this instance it resulted from abrasion in wear (possibly a single, heavy rub against brickwork) rather than from anything the cleaner has done.

Rectification: This is not a fabric which lends itself to reweaving so there is little prospect for further improvement.

White marks on red velvet

Problem: White marks appeared on an acetate velvet evening gown following drycleaning and the owner does not believe the marks were there before the gown was cleaned.

Cause: The marks here look exactly the same under ultraviolet light as they do in natural daylight and this, together with the shape and edge characteristics, means they could only have been caused by staining in use. They have not resulted from negligence or incompetence in drycleaning or stain pre- treatment.

Responsibility: When an acetate velvet or a silk velvet is handed in for cleaning with stains on it, the cleaner has a responsibility to point out the staining and explain that those marks which do not come out in the drycleaning machine process cannot be improved by pre-treatment or post-treatment because the risk of damaging the velvet pile is far greater than any prospect of improvement. The cleaner is responsible for giving this warning. However, the responsibility for the marks themselves is far more likely to lie with the wearer than with anyone else.

Rectification: Unfortunately, none is possible.

A brush with misfortune

Problem: A lined blue-curtain with watermark effect was contaminated by wood stain during redecoration.

Rectification: The stain proved resistant to all proprietary stain removal reagents from UK and German suppliers. The only one that would soften it was Pyratex from Streets. It is unusual to find a stain which is so specific to one particular reagent but that was the only one which appeared to affect the marking seen here. Fortunately it did not appear to damage the blue dyes in the outer.