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Caring for your Vintage Silk Umbrella

So many people are afraid to buy vintage accessories like umbrellas because they think that caring for them is too difficult.  This isn’t so!  Things were built to last, and repair was a part of ownership.  Keeping your vintage accessories is quick and relatively simple!  Here’s an article from Beyers Modenblatt, issue 2 from 1933 on umbrella care.  Enjoy it!


“The good old umbrella that was the faithful companion of our mother and grandmother has changed over the past years.  From purely being useful, it’s changed into a fashion article, and is no longer just the old respected family umbrella.

Patterned with checks or stripes, it can match a dress, and is practical in sunny or rainy weather.  Because of this, there are no solid colors that protect against staining in the closet or umbrella stand, and they is more damageable than the old, sturdy black umbrellas.  It only keeps better when it can be packed in a chest, and so will not so quickly meet the fate of the forgotten.  But your umbrella only wants a little care, which can make it immediately healthier.

The complex fragile silk umbrella, for example, hates it when someone, when using it, jerks it open.  It likes to be lightly shaken before being stretched.  You can protect it in its dry state by slipping a silk band lightly over it, but please only lightly, as it should never be pressed into small wrinkles.   When the umbrella is wet, you should let it sit with the grip pointing down first, before you open it to dry.  If you put it point down right away, it collects water that can rot it.

It is distressing when a beautiful, bright umbrella already has light damage to the fabric.  Often the fabric itself is still in good condition, and has only through contact with other umbrellas or walking canes that it gets a little rip.  In these cases you should patch it with an iron.  You should use “Liftru”, [a glue] which you also use to patch your stockings.  Cut a little piece from the umbrella where the fabric is good and lightly round the corners [Trans: you can also keep an old umbrella around to cut patches from too, I suppose].  Then open the umbrella and lay the defective spot on the ironing board and put the patch with the glued side down on the tear, making sure that the edges of the tear are together.  Then with a warm (not hot) iron, iron it until the patch is securely on.

If your umbrella shows characteristic rows of little holes, you can save the umbrella for a while, as long as the fabric is still good.  You can do this by sewing a matching silk, finger-wide band over the area (on the outside).  A repair of the corners of patterned umbrellas is generally only possible in this way:  you must pull the fabric back over the tip and sew diagonally, connecting with and completing the original stitching, so it is newly secured.

For smooth black umbrellas, you can fix a hole in the roof of your umbrella like you do your clothes.  You can cut a patch from an old umbrella, and sew it underneath the trimmed hole edge.  Also, a torn corner doesn’t mean the end of your umbrella.  It can easily be fixed with a patch from matching fabric.  This is usually only possible with single-color umbrellas, as matching patterned fabrics can be hard to come by.”


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