The first task was removing the undies from the doll. This was a simple task with the exception of the pantaloons. Apparently when the legs were mended at some point it was with the pantaloons ON the doll. Her little calves were not so little as they had once been, it seems, because they were a hair larger than the pantaloon legs. With time, a lot of patience, and the aid of a small tool, I pressed the stuffing and nudged the pantaloons off.
Next it was time for a bath - well, several actually.
I use a really neat product called 'Retro Clean'. You can find it at http://retroclean.com/retroclean/ When I first encountered it, it was known as 'Restore'. To quote the website:
Retro Clean is a gentle soaking agent designed to safely remove yellow age stains (including mildew, wood oil, tea, coffee, blood, water damage, baby formula and perspiration stains) from vintage quilts and all washable fabrics.
What it is, is a miracle! I have taken the most dirty, yellowed, hideous looking undies and made them old-fashioned bright white again with this product. It also brightens aged colors. It's great for 1950s and 60s' doll clothing. I always test a brightly colored garment by itself before tossing it in with anything else as I have had some reds and blues bleach into the water. Even so, if I soaked them carefully by themselves, the product still worked well.
Following are photos with a brief description of the standard process I go through to clean antique and collectible doll clothing - the results so you can see for yourself!
The undies as removed from the doll.
The rust stained shift or chemise.
I use a tsp. to a tbsp. of RetroClean (it's a powder) in 2 - 4 cups of hot water. I use it sparingly. A little goes a LONG way. I always mix it into the hot water in my pan or tray and then, when it is dissolved, add the clothes. You then place the container with the clothes in direct sunlight, or expose to a natural light light-bulb, and it begins to work. As you can see it immediately begins to work - look at the yellow in the water and this occurred only a few seconds after placing the items in the solution! I repeated this process two times with these pieces, dumping the dirty yellow water and then soaking them again in a fresh batch.
When the clothing came out the second time, I was still not completely pleased with the outcome, so I added a tiny bit of bleach and soaked them a third time. The Retro Clean had worked, I just wanted them a little whiter.
Here's the completed project. The items are not perfectly white, but then they are app. 175 years old! I could have taken out more of the stains, but opted to leave them 'as is' so they show their age and will reflect the new-old nature of the doll. I am a firm believer in NOT making old things look brand spankin' new. I just don't think it works!
And in comparison...
That's it for this time. It may be the dress next time, or perhaps the doll - whichever fascinated me the most and moves me to work on it.