Scarf Day.

Scarf Day
Just as it was in our Grandmother’s day, Circa’s laundry routines are dictated by the weather.

As you know – all vintage clothing in Circa is either hand-washed or dry-cleaned. During winter, the hand-washing can fall a bit behind so when the sun shines I tend to get at it, and do what I can while the rain holds off. I really enjoy a good laundry day – first off is the sorting – over the preceding days or weeks, I’ll bring home all the things that I want in the shop. Some things are constantly in demand and others are more seasonal. At the moment my washing pile is mostly cotton print sundresses and Hawaiian shirts as we get ready for Spring.

I buy scarves all the time: usually there are around a hundred in the shop and they’re popular items so I like to keep a steady stream coming. Ironically, considering they’re the cheapest item in Circa, the scarves take the most laundry work and need an especially sunny day.

First off, I sort them into fabrics and colours – scarves can be delicate, and old fabrics are fragile when they’re wet so I try to anticipate problems by pulling out the ones to be careful of. Many old dyes aren’t colourfast and the reds can be particularly dangerous.

I fill the kitchen sink up with lukewarm water and a mild wool wash….one by one, each scarf is carefully hand-washed and then placed seperately on the draining board. This is to avoid possible problems with colour-run…as soon as I see that, the water is changed, and the offending item rinsed thoroughly and isolated from the others.

When I have a pile of them, it’s out to the Hills Hoist. Unlike other garments, scarves need to be all pegged individually, and spaced out so that they don’t touch each other, and so that the fabric doesn’t touch itself: again, to avoid colour run. I’ve ruined so many delicate printed silk scarves in the past by not being so pedantic! It’s best to dry clean silk scarves, but if I did that, I couldn’t sell them for $5-25 – and as there are so many lovely scarves in the world, it’s nice to be able to turn them over and send them out into the world again.

I love scarves: those little pieces of silk, rayon or acetate (or more recently, polyester) full of colour and interesting prints. Our fore-mothers used them to brighten up an outfit and they still work well today. This batch includes beauties from the ’40s to the ’80s, and are especially full of nice florals, stripes, spots and bright colours.

It’s a beautiful Melbourne day out there so soon they’ll be dry and I can fill the line up with the next batch. Look out for some bright colours and prints in Circa soon!


  1. It may be too harsh for delicate vintage fabrics but you might like to try the amusingly named ‘Run Away’ found near the dyes etc at the supermarket. I have rescued many red-dye run disasters and it’s good to have a wee pot of it under the sink to undo damage when it happens.

    Such a cheery photograph!

  2. Oh, I love Run Away: but you can only use it in the washing machine so I generally try to avoid using it in the first place – but you’re right. I buy in bulk and use often to rescue things. Thank you! Glad you like the pic: it’s such a gorgeous day out there.

  3. Silly me, of *course* you’d know about it!

    I cheat and use a teaspoon or two at a time to handwash the offending item in a bucket . Rules are made to be broken. Works very well and makes the rather expensive sachet go much much further.

  4. Hi, Nicole. What a lovely picture! Looks like a festival. Our friend, Hollis, mentioned adding salt and white vinegar to the cold water to reduce the dye run. Have you ever tried that?

    I don’t think we have Run-Away here.

  5. Thanks to you both for the great suggestions! Despite my best intentions, I still managed to get colour run on one of the silk scarves…next time I’ll know what to do.

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