5 tips for caring for stage wear on tour
Ah, the smell of bus fumes and new laminates in the morning.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to tour season. You’ve survived the land-of-no-catering (home), you’re already planning your day-off activities (hope it’s a good city!), and the last thing you want to think about is laundry.
I GET YOU, but let’s make those custom stage pieces last an entire tour, yea?
TIP 1: Vodka + Water
No, not for drinking. Vodka kills bacteria, which is what you’re actually smelling when that funk hits you as you walk by an open a wardrobe case. Jumping and dancing around onstage under hot lights is going to get your custom pieces dirty, even if you’re only wearing them for one song.
This is the go-to solution in between getting items washed or dry-cleaned before your next gig. Spray the worst wear spots heavily with a 1:4 solution of vodka & water and set it up over a box fan to air out.
TIP 2: Use the right kind of heat.
It doesn’t matter if it traveled in a road case or a suitcase, chances are, if its bus call was after midnight, it’s coming out wrinkled on the other end.
Irons are usually pretty harsh on custom clothing. Most of the time when we choose fabrics unique for the stage, we choose them because they light, photograph, and move well - which means, they aren’t your every day wash-and-wear fabrics. If you’re ever unsure of how to remove wrinkles, the safest bet is to always steam the inside of the garment. That way if anything does end up getting too hot, the outside of the clothing isn’t what you tested it on. Below is a quick cheat sheet for easy reference! If it isn’t listed here, steam it just to be sure.
You’ll noticed we nope’d out of using any kind of heat with velvet and latex. You can steam velvet, but because most steamers get too hot, and most of you aren’t versed with a steamer, I’m gonna lovingly hold you back from getting down with a steamer on some velvet. Reason: There is no going back. If you apply too much heat, that velvet will discolor or singe to a lower pile. There is no undoing this. If you absolutely have to get wrinkles out of latex, you’re going to want to use pressure + heat together. You wouldn’t apply direct heat - instead you’ll take a press cloth and an iron on its lowest setting, and work your wrinkles out this way.
Got questions about a fabric that’s being finicky over heat? Comment below or email your question.
Tip 3: Pin, don’t cut. Snip, don’t pull.
Over time, certain pieces are going to ‘wear out’ differently than others. If something’s starting to hang not-quite-right, the tendency is to cut away what’s annoying us. Whether it’s extra seam allowance, or worn-out elastic, do your best to pin it out of your way rather than cutting. This will handle the issue for now until you can get the garment to a seamstress (read: us) to get it restored or tailored for you.
If you see a hanging thread, snip it off at the surface rather than pulling it (and risk pulling apart your garment).
Tip 4: Befriend Woolite.
Oh you haven’t Woolite yet? I can guarantee you it’s about to be your BFF. Woolite makes these home dry cleaning kits that are uh-may-zing to have with you on the road.
You’re on the run and one of your custom pieces is perfectly ready for the stage.. EXCEPT the makeup stain around the neckline. Or maybe there’s one odd spot that appeared on it after the dry cleaner and you’re all ‘wtf what am I gonna do with this?’
You can spot clean just about ANYTHING with one of these kits. They’re nine bucks, you spray the solution onto the spot or stain, and press white paper towels or white linens on top of the sprayed stain. By blotting the spot again and again, you’ll pick it up onto the towel you’re using to clean it. Repeat until the stain/spot/marks are gone and rock on. Here’s a link to the kit via Amazon Prime.
Tip 5: Consider your climate.
The hotter stage, the more you’ll sweat - meaning, the more work you’re giving yourself to keep custom pieces clean. If you’re performing at outdoor music festivals all summer, full-body and stage pants will last a little longer just by adding an underarmor layer underneath. By creating a buffer between your skin and the garment liner, you’re preventing a good amount of bacteria from absorbing into those fibers, and allowing them to absorb into a layer that’s quickly washable. Little decisions like this really do add up, and can extend the life of a costume well beyond tour season.