If Aunt Maggie got a little tipsy at your holiday dinner and spilled a drink on that fine linen tablecloth handed down from Grandma, help is at hand.
First, do not use an over-the-counter chemical solution, which may eat through vintage linen or damask. Second, call either of the following two laundries that specialize in cleaning and restoring fine napery.
This will not be inexpensive, but there is a definite economy in restoring a priceless piece of linen instead of trashing it.
At Lace House, all the work is done by hand. The basic process consists of prespotting and washing, sizing the piece, then blocking it and finally ironing it while very damp. "It comes out crisper that way," says owner Esther Prey.
When finished, it is either folded, put on a hanger or on a roller ($5 charge for the first time), according to your wishes. Lace House charges $13 to $15 per yard, depending on the fabric; napkins run $3 each.
If a piece needs mending or tinting or sometimes even painting, they will do whatever it takes to restore a piece to its original beauty. "All this handwork takes a lot of time, and there aren't many people who want to do it anymore," says Prey, who counts designers, museums and fine-linen shops as regular customers.
And if you didn't get a new cashmere sweater for Christmas or found that your tux has acquired some moth holes, they also do reweaving on woolen fabrics.
The French Hand Laundry in Pasadena, founded by Marie and Rene Cottave, has been at the same location for 85 years and is now under the ownership of Virginia and Susan McManigal.
The price here goes by the square foot. A standard-size lace or cutwork tablecloth--usually about three yards in length and about two yards wide--runs about $50. That would come down to $30 for the same size standard, plain damask piece.
When you present your stained or damaged cloth, they will tell you what to expect--but cannot guarantee the outcome.
"On a vintage piece," says Susan McManigal, "we don't know what chemicals have been used on it in the past."
The French Hand Laundry also restores vintage clothing, and works with museums across the country. It is a full dry-cleaning establishment and does restoration work on textiles.
So don't toss those fine pieces that you think are stained beyond removal or have a little hole. With professional help, they may last another holiday season.
* Lace House, 6080 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 653-4052. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
* French Hand Laundry, 606 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. (626) 792-3881. Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Weekend Super Sale: With all the post-Christmas sales going on, it's hard to pick just one. But I do like the quality of the goods at Alandale's, and it's in the quality stuff that a good sale really counts.
Here men's all-wool, high-twist (to travel well) suits that regularly sell for $795 are $300-$400. Sport coats that retail for $695 are on sale for $200. All the woolens here are from the Biella region of Italy, which produces only the finest wool fabrics.
This is elegant but very friendly shopping. There's a hair salon on the premises, and they'll even wash your car while you're being put together. Sale goes for two more weeks.
* Alandale's, 8775 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 360-7600. Free parking in rear.