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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Purchasing High-Quality Dress Shirts

There is such a big difference between the way a custom-made dress shirt looks and holds up when compared to mainstream brands.  Obviously, you pay a premium for custom-made dress shirts, but because they are custom-made for you, they fit properly.  Plus, no corners are cut.  For instance, many mass-manufactured dress shirts use adhesive around the seams of the pockets, collar, and cuffs, and because the adhesive weakens over time, the shirt simply won’t last as long or look as crisp as a custom-made dress shirt. 

So, you are in the market for some custom-made dress shirts, but what do you look for?  Below are the areas to focus on as you shop for your perfect shirt…and shirt maker.   

Collar – A quality collar will be properly proportioned, with straight and clean stitching along the edges, and include removable collar stays. 

Buttons and Button Holes – There are several things to check here.  First, buttons come in a variety of sizes and styles; however, if “Mother of Pearl” buttons are on the shirt, that indicates quality.  Whatever button is used, make sure buttons are firmly attached to the shirt, using the X method of sewing.  In addition, buttons that are shanked also indicate a certain level of detail.  Shanking is when another thread is wrapped around the threads that hold the button to the shirt, causing the buttons to stand out a bit.  But more than the button itself, high-quality dress shirts have cleanly finished button holes with no signs of fraying.  Check for a small button at the sleeve placket, the area of the sleeve that opens when the cuff is unbuttoned.  This button is import because it prevents the sleeve from hanging open.  Finally, a high-quality dress shirt will come with spare buttons attached to the shirt.

Stitching – Overall, the stitching should be straight or smoothly follow the curves of the shirt with at least 18 stitches per inch.  Single needle side seam stitching along the sides of the shirt and the bottom of the sleeves give the shirt a tight seam and a tapered look.  Check for reinforcement along the bottom of the side seams to keep the shirt from ripping or tearing.  Finally, check the stitching at the cuffs, ensuring they have pointed corners and straight stitches. 

Split Yoke – The yoke is the panel of fabric that runs across the shoulders, just behind the collar. A split yoke is where the yoke is made of two different pieces of fabric, and a true split will have two pieces of fabric cut at an angle.  When fabric is cut on an angle, it stretches more giving a greater range of motion.

Fabric – While 100% heavy weight premium cotton shirts finish the best, we find that fabric is very much a personal preference.  Choose what you like, but know that the quality of the fabric impacts the overall quality of the shirt.  If you want a shirt with some sort of pattern, be sure that the pattern matches at the center back of the split yoke, along the front of the shirt, and at the pocket.  If the pattern doesn’t match properly, the shirt will look sloppy. 

We realize that’s a whole lot of information to take into consideration for one dress shirt, but believe us when we say, you really can see the difference in quality.  If you’d like to get started, we are happy to share that many of our customers like these brands – Tom James, Richard Bennett, Charles Trywitt, and Brooks Brothers.  Once you purchase a high-quality shirt, keep it in great shape by laundering it regularly.  If you’d like to stop by one of our locations to examine a custom-made shirt or to just ask questions, please do.  We are happy to help.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Restoring Two Vintage Wedding Gowns

We always tell brides to have their gowns cleaned and preserved as soon as possible after the ceremony because the longer you let spills and stains sit on your garments, the less likely it is that a professional dry cleaner will be able to remove them.  Sadly, we didn’t know as much back in 1974 or 1946 as we do today, but luckily for Margaret Rehder, we are as good as we say we are.
Mrs. Rehder's Dress before and after
In 1974, Margaret wore this gown she purchased from Montaldo’s in Winston-Salem to marry her husband.  “It worked,” she said, “because I’m still happily married 42 years later.”  After her wedding, she placed the gown back in the Montaldo’s bag and stored it away.  The gown has moved around with them as they’ve changed homes, and most recently, it has been living in the same bag in their attic.

Margaret dropped her bridal gown, along with one that her mother had worn in 1946, off at our Shores location in Winston-Salem.  Brian, the General Manager of Shores, said that Margaret’s gown was no problem to clean and restore, but her mother’s gown was a completely different story.

Her mother’s gown, after being worn in 1946, was placed in an old electric blanket box without being cleaned or preserved.  The gown was made of Chantilly lace and the fibers were completely dried out.  Placing it in a machine or subjecting it to the smallest amount of agitation would cause it to completely fall apart.  So, David, Manager of the Shores in High Point, spent three days cleaning it by hand.  While the dress could not be returned to its original condition, it has been reconditioned and restored to its former beauty.

Mrs. Rehder's mother's dress before and after cleaning and preservation

Even though the dress looks beautiful, it cannot be worn again, and this very reason is why we are so adamant about providing the proper care for wedding gowns as soon as the ceremony is over.  If you have a wedding gown that’s been sitting in your closet untouched for far too long, drop it by one of our locations so that our gown experts can restore it to its former beauty.  Also, feel free to contact us with questions about our preservation process.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Starch and Dress Shirts

Three pressed, starched and laundered dress shirts
When you drop off your dress shirts to be laundered, we always ask if you’d like them to be starched.  If you do, we separate them from those that aren’t going to receive starch, both batches are laundered according to specifications with the shirts receiving starch getting it through a separate cycle, then all shirts meet back up at the finishing department.  But what exactly is starch and what purpose does it serve?

Laundry starch is a vegetable byproduct that’s dried and then mixed with water to create a sticky liquid.  Shirts that are starched, if they are 100% cotton, keep their form longer and are less likely to develop wrinkles.  We specify 100% cotton because they are the only shirts that can be heavily starched; polyester, a man-made synthetic fiber, will not absorb or hold starch the way 100% cotton will.  Starch cannot bind with polyester fibers so you will never get a stiff shirt.

Of course, with everything there are both pros and cons and adding starch to shirts is no exception.

Pro - Starch adds a layer of protection to dress shirts, allowing them to better tolerate rubbing from other flat surfaces.

Con - Starch stiffens fibers, making shirts less flexible, so it lowers the shirt’s ability to withstand bending, twisting, and flexing.

Pro - Tensile strength is the measure of how well fabrics and fibers resist breaking under tension.  The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute conducted a study and found that shirts with medium starch and no starch had similar tensile strength.

Con - However, after being laundered 10 times, the tensile strength on no starch shirts was 29% higher than the shirts with heavy starch.  Heavy starch can decrease the tensile strength of fabrics by increasing its rigidity.

Pro - Starched shirts tend to stay whiter and brighter, maintain a crisper look, and resist staining.

Con – The main purpose of adding starch is to create a stiffness to the fabric; this in turn creates a problem with fiber flexibility, and this lack of flexibility causes the fabric to snap rather than give when strained.

When it comes to starch or no starch, we find that it comes down to personal preference; there’s no right or wrong answer here.  At Shores, we are proud of our Platinum Shirt Laundry and Silver Shirt Services Laundry services, and we know whatever you choose, you’ll be happy with the shirt results from Shores Fine Dry Cleaning.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Magnolias of Madison

Allison Drake opened Magnolias of Madison in March as sort of an homage to her late mother.  “My mom had a bridal boutique in Eden for 30 years,” Allison explained.  “She loved her dresses, so I opened Magnolias in her honor.”
Sadly, on May 31, flood waters ravaged her business.  “I had just moved the prom dress collection out of our space and moved in 30 new bridal gowns,” said Allison.  “When I arrived at the store after the rain, I was in shock and absolutely devastated.  My inventory was ruined, and I had no flood insurance.  Given our location, I never thought I’d need it.”  But because of storm drain issues, many businesses in Madison had to deal with the same sort of issues.

Instead of giving up, Allison did some research and decided to call Shores.  “I’d heard of Shores, especially the Winston-Salem location, and their great reputation,” Allison shared.  “Then I did some research, discovered their certification, and learned that they really do know what they are doing.”

Allison began working with David King, the manager of our High Point location and our gown expert extraordinaire, and today she has a completely different outlook on things.  To date, David and his staff have restored and returned almost all the gowns, and Allison is looking forward to a grand re-opening at her new location, 101 West Academy Street in Madison, Labor Day weekend.  Their new location is a home, built in 1890, that is on the National Registry.  It boasts much more space than her prior location, has great visibility, and will allow Allison to showcase the gowns.  “I’m so grateful that I called Shores, and that they were willing to help,” shared Allison.  “Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that we have a better location, and we got to work with some terrific people.”

Shores is equally as pleased with the results.  “It was a slow process,” said David, “but in the end, I’m so excited we were able to help her.”  To clean the gowns, David and his team, working on a couple dresses at a time, soaked the bottom two feet of each gown in a gentle cleansing solution, then one-by-one, they hand cleaned the bottom of each dress using the greatest of care.  “The results were amazing,” exclaimed Allison, “I think they look even better than they did before.”  Below are a few before and after photos so that you can see what a remarkable job David and his team did.

The first dresses hem before cleaning

A lacier dresses hem before cleaning

Soiled Wedding Dress Hem number three


The first wedding dress. stainless after cleaning
A second wedding dress after Shore's professional gown cleaning
The third dress, cleaned by shore's and now stainless
There’s a reason why folks like Allison call on Shores; since 1948, Shores has had reputation of providing quality and caring service to all their clientele.  To learn more about Shores, visit our website or check us out on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Under Arm Stains

An unfortunate image of an under-arm stained dress shirt
You feel like you haven’t had the shirt very long or at least you haven’t worn it that many times before you notice that slight discoloration, sort of a yellowish hue, underneath the arms.  What is it?  Perspiration.  Actually, it is likely a combination of perspiration and anti-perspirant, and while that discoloring can form on other areas of your garments, it seems the most vulnerable area is under the arms.
Perspiration is made mostly of water, but it does contain trace amounts of minerals, lactic acid, and urea.  The content makeup varies from person to person, but it, along with the materials found in anti-perspirants, in conjunction with a concentrated area (like the underarm area of shirts) leads to build up over time and with age and the heat of finishing after cleaning, causes these materials to oxidize and turn the stain yellow.

What can you do to reduce the effects? Below are some suggestions.
  • Let your anti-perspiration or deodorant dry completely before dressing.
  • Wash or dry clean clothing as soon as possible after wearing; the quicker you address dirty garments, the more likely stains and spills can be removed.
  • Consider wearing underarm shields with your dress clothes.
  • Switch from anti-perspirant, which contains aluminum chlorohydrate that tends to clump in cotton and damage garments fibers, to deodorant. 
  • Try soaking clothing in cold water and dish soap, which contains de-greasers, immediately after wearing.
  • Finally, occasionally soak in a mild color-safe bleach.  Avoid using chlorine bleach as it will cause the optical brighteners to breakdown. 
Of course, Shores has been removing perspiration stains for years, and we’ll be happy to remove those nasty discolorations from your shirts.  Simply drop them by one of our three convenience locations.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Linen Fabric

A linen shirt with stained collar and scuffs
Linen fabric is some of the oldest in the world with its history going back thousands of years.  It was so valuable that it was sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt, and mummies were wrapped in it as a display of wealth.  Linen is made from the cellulose fibers that grow inside of the stalks of the flax plant, so one could really consider it a vegetable.  Flax can grow in various climates, but it does best in cool, damp environments, so planting depends on where it is being grown.  Once it’s planted, it lives for one growing season and is ready to be harvested in approximately 100 days.  After the stalks are harvested, they are allowed to dry out in the open air for several weeks before they go through various processes before finally making it to weaving.

Linen is a terrific fabric to wear during warmer weather because its porous texture allows air to move through the fabric, helping you feel cooler.  It can also absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture before feeling damp, unlike cotton that gets heavy from perspiration.  Finally, it keeps its shape much better than other fabrics.  On the down side, it wrinkles – badly.  With all these benefits and only one (but a big one) drawback, how can you incorporate linen into your wardrobe while still looking crisp and sharp?
  • Avoid folding linen garments and instead hang them.
  • Don’t jam linen garments into an overstuffed closet.  Instead hang them in a closet with plenty of room. 
  • Linen garments aren’t the best to pack for vacation, but if you are set on taking one we suggest folding it carefully, packing it last, pulling it out of your suitcase as soon as you arrive, and iron the garment using a buffer cloth to avoid shine either while damp or using plenty of heat and steam.
  • Try using a clothes steamer to relax deep wrinkles.
  • Either hand wash linen garments or use the gentle cycle on your washing machine.
  • Don’t dry linen garments in the dryer.  Instead, lay flat on a towel to dry and gently pull the seams to properly shape and smooth. 
  • Remember, the more linen is worn and washed, the softer and more flexible it will be. 
But of course, if all of this seems like too much, Shores will be happy to take care of your linen garments for you.  Simply drop by one of our three locations, and we’ll take it from there.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wedding Gown Alterations

There is no such thing as the “perfect” wedding gown; that makes us sound like such pessimists, but the truth is that even the most beautiful of gowns needs a tuck here or a hem there.  So you have “the one”, and now what?  Here are a few tips to turn "the one" into "the perfect one":
  1. If you purchased your gown at a bridal salon, they will most likely provide alterations.  If that isn’t an option, be sure to do your due diligence and select a tailor or seamstress that specializes in bridal gowns. 
  2. Set up fittings with at least 2 and preferably 3 seamstresses before committing to one.  First, it will help you get a feel for pricing.  Second, you may connect better with one particular seamstress.  Third, you will learn something from each seamstress because they all view and tackle a gown differently.  Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly during your meetings.
  3. Wedding gown alterations should be finalized four weeks prior to your wedding date, so that means, given that most gowns require 2 – 4 fittings, you’ll need to begin moderate alterations roughly three months from your wedding date.  If your gown requires substantial alterations, then we recommend adding an additional month.
  4. Bring all undergarments, shoes, and accessories to every fitting.  This will ensure a proper fit and will also allow you to see your ensemble in its entirety. 
  5. Avoid bringing too many people to your fittings.  Obviously you’ll want to bring your mom, but it’s also a good idea to bring a trusted friend – one that will be honest but kind with their opinions.  Any more than that could create a chaotic atmosphere and lead to too many opinions. 
Of course, Shores offers wedding gown alterations, and we would be happy to assist you with your gown.  But whomever you choose, we want you to be happy with that selection, so if we can help by answering questions or offering advice, then please stop by one of our locations and talk to the manager.