How to Care for Suede

As much as I love the look of suede, from someone who comes from a snowy climate, I know just as well as anyone suede boots aren’t the most practical items of a woman’s (or man’s) closet. Over the years, I’ve learned how to best care for suede, and I thought I would share some of that have worked for me in preserving the look and feel of newly purchased suede!

My best tip? Protect and avoid. I just purchased this spray by Scotchguard, and I have to say, that it works pretty well (note, however, that this spray could darken the suede if you are not careful). Although this protectant is to make suede water resistant, I still would not voluntarily submerse my boots in ankle deep slush and water to be on the safe side.

Although difficult when the ground is always wet throughout the winter like it is in Toronto, but I try and avoid wearing suede boots if there is any moisture on the ground or threat of precipitation. And even if there is not any moisture on the ground, if you are a driver, beware! Those car mats are still wet! I learned the hard way with my little suede booties:
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Notice the fading on the heel of my right boot (the “driving foot”). It made me very sad when I discovered the fading, and at first, couldn’t figure out what had happened. On the bright side, I found this powder dye  by Fiebing that works wonderfully to re-dye faded suede. I was surprised that the dye was in fact liquid, but it works without napping the suede. It probably has a lot to do with this cute little wool applicator, or dauber, it comes with:

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To use this, clean the suede to remove dirt and debris. I use a brush similar to this one.  I also have an gum/eraser type (which I cannot find) but it also works fairly well to remove dirt.  Comparing the brush to the gummy, the four-sided brush is more functional as the curved edge can reach into grooves and crevices of footwear that are difficult to reach.

After cleaning the suede, dip the applicator into the dye and remove the excess. I did so by patting it into the paper I used to protect my surface.  I then dabbed the dauber on to the suede. I was somewhat light-handed, but went over the areas again later, where I felt like it could use more color. I let dry for an hour or so and repeated the steps.

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After drying, use the brush to “restore” the nap of the leather. I like to brush in one direction, and made sure not to rub too hard to actually remove the nap.

After:

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Much better! I then spray my boots with Scotchguard to repel moisture and prevent salt stains. Because these boots are black, I sprayed pretty liberally, but still gave it quite a bit of distance between the bottle and the boot as the liquid came out in quite a strong  burst rather than a light mist.

For lighter colors that you don’t want to darken, I would give it a very good distance and spray very lightly, repeating several times, while allowing to dry in between treatments. And when I say distance, I mean like a foot and a half. The suede may darken temporarily, but as long as the suede is just slightly damp, it will likely return to its original color. Clean and protect suede regularly.

And there we go! Your suede is ready to take on the world!

Do you have tips for caring for suede?

Shop the items I used in this post and similar booties:


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Review: Uniquely You Dress Form

I took a bit of a hiatus from sewing for one good reason. I really wanted a dress form. I was finding that sewing clothes for myself was much too cumbersome when I constantly had to try on the clothes and take it off, so I decided that I was finally going to invest in a dress form.

I did tons and tons of research, and eventually decided on a Uniquely You Dress Form (I apologize for the poor quality photos, I have no excuse other than I am lazy and I just used my smart phone in poor lighting):

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I know, the bust is ridiculous, but bear with me as I give this long-winded run-down.

I chose this particular form for two main reasons:

(1) It’s entirely made of foam, so I can pin right through it. This was important to me because I eventually want to learn to drape and this requires that the form I use is pinnable. Most other forms are solid, and doesn’t allow for a good pinning.

(2) I really loved the idea of compressing the form to my shape and therefore making it exactly me. With the typical dress form, you buy one that is smaller than your size and you pad it with batting so that it approximates your shape. A UY dress form comes with a cover that you customize. You pull over the form and theoretically it should compress to your exact shape.

It also didn’t hurt that this form isn’t any more expensive than other traditional dress forms such as Dritz  ($179).

I ended up purchasing this form from SewVacDirect.com. The form comes in five sizes (Petite, Small, Medium, Medium/Large), and each size comes with a cover. The cover you choose according to you bust size. Since I measure 32″ around the widest point of my bust, I went with a size 2. Here is the size chart for the Petite:

Form Size      Hip Meas.       Waist Meas.    Cover Size     Bust Measurement
Petite               29″ to 34″        22″ to 27″                 1                         29″ to 31″
                                                                                      2                         32″ to 33″
                                                                                      3                         34″ to 35″

Now, there are a few things that I did not consider when I purchased this form. No, the torpedo boobs I knew about. Most, if not all women I’ve read about hacked those things off, so I knew that it was going to be required. What I didn’t realize was that the cover was not made for petites despite the size I chose was labelled “Petite”. And if you are petite, you know what that means. All the seams are in the wrong place. This left me with two options, either create my own cover by making a sheath dress with zero ease or basically un-do all the seams of the cover it came with and sew it all back together. If I was more confident in my sewing skills I probably would have made my own cover, but I ended up trying to customize the cover it came with. It took me quite a while to get this cover to fit, working on it on and off for about four months. If I had to estimate how long it took me to get it to fit to my body, I would say approximately four days, and I believe that being a beginner sewist had a lot to do with it. If you have more experience with sewing, it likely won’t take you as long to fit this cover. The dress form does come with instructions to modify the it, and they’re pretty good. Some people decided to do away with the instructions, but I decided to follow them as closely as possible because otherwise I wouldn’t have known where to begin.

Here is the cover on me, when I thought it was done:

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Pretty good, right?

That is, until I put the cover on the dress form. At this point, I had mad no alterations to the torpedo boobs, so they were much too large. It took at least two people to get the cover on the form initially (Me+Mom or Me+Dad). But even after the form was on, the breasts on this form were still measuring out to be 34″+. This form definitely needed some breast reduction surgery. I read that some women took an electric knife to the form, but I found it ineffective and went with a pair of scissors instead and slowly hacked away. It took me quite a while to get it somewhat realistic:

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When I finally got the bust down to something reasonable, I slipped on the cover and realized there was another problem, but there was probably no way I could have known even after all my research since I had not read any review that had encountered this problem. Given the measurements of this form and my own measurements, this form had to be compressed down quite a bit. According to the form measurements, it should have been able to compress 3″ smaller than my own measurements. But in fact, when I slipped the cover on the form, it didn’t compress down at all!

I was baffled. How could the cover be tight on me, but when I put it on the form, it was still 2″ too big all around??

I had no idea what to do at this point. I started to brainstorm and suddenly came up with the idea of duct taping the form to help compress it. I had two concerns with this idea, however. One, was the form still going to be pinnable after I taped it? Two, I was pretty sure that after I taped up the form, that it would no longer have my unique shape, but instead take for form of the duct tape. So I had to be careful about how tight I was going to pull the tape in certain areas or I was going to get some weird looking lumps all over the form.

After making the cover smaller from the inside of the cover about 2″ and had no success in compressing the form at all, I finally gave in and decided to take the duct tape to it:

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And hey, it worked! It was so good, I almost decided to completely do away with the cover altogether, but then realized that  I wanted the form  to look presentable and I would be pretty annoyed after all that work in trying to make the cover fit and I didn’t use it at all!

Ultimately, I did kind of lose my “unique” shape, but the cover slipped on easily and surprisingly, the form is still completely pinnable! Of course, where I have multiple layers of tape, a pin requires a bit more pressure to push through, but its not terrible at all. So now, what I have is this:

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It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. Good enough that I’m happy to keep it this way…until I’m not. If there were adjustments that I had to make, one would be to raise the bust. Mine naturally sit higher on my body than this form does but the more I examine the form, this modification requires that I completely hack off the breasts and move them upwards which is a little too much effort for me right now. Also, I would try to make a better formation of the glutes. I did give it a try, but gave up after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. But overall, I’m very happy!  I admit, getting this form to work is extremely time-intensive especially for a beginner, but right now I’m feeling like it’s completely worth it. So a few things to consider if you are petite and are thinking about buying this particular dress form. The cover is not made for petites! So it requires either making your own cover or almost completely taking apart the cover it comes with. Secondly, if you are much smaller than the form is uncompressed, it will likely need some help, maybe a little duct tape. Buy yourself a big roll before starting!

If you are interested, you can get the form from Sewvacdirect here! UPDATE: 10% off at SewVacDirect with code: SEWSOCIAL. Good through November 29!P.S. I totally tried taking some EOTD photos over the weekend, but they turned out terribly. I will have to try again next weekend!