How to clean old metallic braids?

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frances
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How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by frances »

Well, I have not succeeded in finding a partner to carry all the haberdashery to events now that I cannot lift things myself. And on-line sales are pretty non-existent too. So I have decided to use up some of the historic haberdashery by doing up my own outfits. This is going to take me rather a long time to empty the braids boxes as I have about 150 different gold braids, let alone all the other colours !!

To start with I am planning to use some old, gold metallic lace on one of my Regency ball gowns. But it is tarnished and dirty.

Anyone know how to brighten it up and get rid of the musty metallic smell?

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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by Tuppence »

do you know what the material content is?

does it contain actual gold or silver, is it really old, or the really good stuff, or or is it more modern metallised polyester stuff?
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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by frances »

Hi 2d,

This one is really old, contains metal of some sort as it is quite heavy. At a guess at least 100 years old, if not more.

But surely if it was gold it would not tarnish. I expect my silver braids with silver content to go black where exposed to the air, but not gold.

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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by Neibelungen »

Pretty much nothing you can do with braids to prevent or restore tarnishing to them.

The classic solution is to brush them with dried breadcrumbs. It acts like a very fine abrasive, lifting a minute top layer of dirt and tarnish, and hopefully exposing a brighter surface underneath.

The gold itself doesn't tarnish. What happens is that the molecules from the base layer (usually copper or white metal,silver if silver-gilt lace) migrate into the gold, and then tarnish themselves. This also reduces the carat of the gold as the surface coating becomes intermixed and effectively no longer is a pure gold.

It takes longer with older laces because up to 1930 the army standard was 3.5% gold, now it's only 2% for top quality, and 1/2% for gilt laces. You can get tarnish resisting laces these dase, that use chemical processing to prevent surface oxidation and barrier layers in the coatings, but these only buy a couple of years time.
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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by frances »

Dried breadcrumbs? You mean buy some bread and toast it and crumble it. Then apply with a brush? Or buy dried breadcrumbs from the supermarket.

I am sensitive to gluten, so know nothing about breadcrumbs!

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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by Neibelungen »

Either method works for breadcrumbs. You need it drier as the moisture content will make it too soft and will promote tarnishing.
I'd recomend low baking of the breadcrumbs to remove any moisture. To fine a size and your likely to leave a flour stain embeded into background fabric.

To be honest, I've never found it particularly effective, rather more for removing dirt accumulation than any tarnish, but it's worth a try.

The only other way I've seen is total removal of braid and then deionized water rinses, but it's convoluted and requires carefull drying or you can end up making it much worse. In situ, it's extremely impractical.

Reversal of the lace is often a practical solution as the rear is protected more from sulpher oxidation, though sometimes the fabric dyes can be worse.
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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by frances »

The braid is not sewn onto anything at the moment.

How do you do deionising? What are the pitfalls? It is less tarnished on the back, but still tarnished a bit, so I think it must have been already turned by previous users.

This particular braid is so nice that it is worth spending a little time and effort to get it looking better, if that is possible.

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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by Neibelungen »

Deionized water is the type you get for refilling irons and car batteries. Deionized means that they have taken out most of the trace minerals and metalic elements, so your left with pure clean water. (ie, no salts, calcium, chloride etc).

When it dries out it doesn't leave water marks or minerals in the material. Should be able to get it in places like Halfords in 1l and 5L bottles.
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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by frances »

So what do I do? Put it in a large bowl and put the braid in. Move it a round a little and change the water until it is clean. Then dry on a towel or something?

Have you ever done it? I do not want to go wrong and lose the braid. It has managed to survive for this long, after all.

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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by Neibelungen »

It's exactly the same kind of process you would use to clean original pieces and embroidery to remove dirt.

Wash very gently in deionised water and a very soft detergent. Then several rinses in more deionised water untill your certain all traces are rinced out.

Afterwards you need a slow heated drying to make sure that all water traces are removed, around 22-25C if I remember.

Older braids are often silk cored, but some can be cotton.

It may or may not improve the finish, it really depends whether on the degree of oxidation tarnish or accumulated dirt.

Afterwards store in acid free tissue.
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Re: How to clean old metallic braids?

Post by frances »

Thanks for that.

"afterwards sew onto ball-gown and let everyone admire all your hard work!!" :)

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