• Northeast Ohio's Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide for Over 20 Years!

  • Welcome to Today’s Bride

  • Categories

  • Blog Archive

  • Top Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 13 other followers

  • Tweets from Today’s Bride

Get the Facts – Wedding Dress Preservation

By: Katherine Wright

Why Preserve Your Bridal Gown?

You spent a great deal of time and thought selecting your wedding dress. You may hope that a younger sister or perhaps even a daughter will someday wear your gown. Or you may want to hold onto your beautiful gown for sentimental reasons. Either way, your wedding gown is a treasured keepsake that if properly cleaned and preserved, can last for years to come.

After the wedding, many bridal gowns are left in the plastic garment bag with good intentions of cleaning and preservation sometime soon. That soon often turns into weeks, and then years. This procrastination poses some serious risks to the gown:

  • Oxidation of stains, seen and unseen. Your dress may have noticeable stains from food or make-up, or the hemline may be soiled. Or your dress may look clean to you, but don’t be fooled, spills from alcoholic beverages or clear soda may dry clear, but oxidize with time, turn brown and become more difficult to remove later. Body perspiration may cause the dress lining to turn brittle over time. Your dress needs to be cleaned in order to keep it in the best condition possible.
  • Plastic fumes: Gowns kept in plastic gown bags are exposed to the most harmful environment possible: plastic fumes. Most plastic gives off chemical fumes that cause the yellowing of bridal gowns. Some brides take the initiative to get their dress cleaned, but still leave their gown in the dry-cleaner’s plastic wrap or garment bag.

Cleaning and preserving your bridal gown as soon as possible ensures that your gown remains in the best condition possible. Ideally, your dress should be cleaned and preserved within days or weeks of your wedding.

Determining the Best Gown Preservation

A good way to determine the best bridal gown preservation technique would be to check with museum textile conservators to see how they preserve heirloom garments.

Museum Garment Preservation

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a wonderful collection of gowns that are hundreds of years old. The dresses in storage are hung on padded hangers and covered with cotton sheeting to protect them.

Garment preservation at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. is similar. Heirloom garments that are not currently on display are cleaned and carefully stored in climate controlled conditions. Many dresses are hung on padded hangers, while some garments are laid in drawers or acid free boxes with acid free tissue. Sharp creases are avoided, as they can damage fabric. To keep the folds from becoming permanent creases, the garments stored in boxes or drawers are refolded into a different position every few years.

Neither of these museums seals any of their heirloom garments. Museum conservators discourage sealing any garment in any container for three reasons:

  1. Fabric weakens where it is folded. Fabric weakens in the same way that paper weakens where it is folded, so that creases from the folds may become permanent. (You may have experienced this if you have ever let down the hem on a garment.) Or worse, the fabric may tear at the weakened creases. This is why the Smithsonian refolds the garments stored in drawers and boxes periodically.
  2. Inspection is critical. Periodic inspection ensures that the garment does not develop permanent damage from oxidizing stains or any other problems. The sooner problems are discovered, the more likely they can be remedied.
  3. Sealing promotes mold and mildew. If the textile can breathe, then the humidity remains constant around the garment. If any moisture were to condense inside a storage container, it would likely develop mildew.

Museum conservators recommend keeping heirloom garments: clean, cool, dry and wrinkle-free.

Bridal Gown Preservation

The first step to wedding gown preservation is to have it cleaned thoroughly.  Keeping your gown in the best possible condition is your next goal. You will need to protect it from:

  • Yellowing
  • Permanent creasing
  • Mildew and mold
  • Oxidation spots
  • Light
  • Dust

Yellowing
It’s important to note that one of the leading causes of bridal gown yellowing is the plastic bags that many brides keep their gowns in. Most plastics give off damaging fumes that actually promote yellowing. But, even with proper care, some fabrics will yellow more than others and it may be impossible to prevent all yellowing.

Generally, silk fabric yellows more than synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, rayon and acetate. However, nylon, which is a synthetic, has a tendency to yellow more than other synthetic fabrics. Gowns that can be wet cleaned have an advantage, in that if they do yellow, they may be able to be whitened for future use with a fabric whitener.

Preserving your gown in an acid-free environment is your best protection against yellowing. Padding your gown with acid-free tissue will help to prevent acid migration. Buffered tissue should be used for gowns made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and acetate. The buffering agents in the buffered tissue gives added protection against acid migration. But buffering agents may damage gowns made of animal proteins such as silk or wool, therefore un-buffered, acid-free tissue is recommended for silk fabrics.

What about warranties against yellowing?
Some preservation companies advertise that their preservation method will prevent yellowing and they may even offer a warranty. Look carefully at any warranty offered by these companies. One warranty offered by a leading on-line preservation company stated that they will cover discoloration and damages caused by their company’s cleaning and preservation processes. Another simply states that the gown may be returned to a participating dealer for inspection and pressing. None of them state that they will replace an aged, yellowed gown with a new gown.

Keeping your gown in the best overall condition should be the primary concern in preserving your bridal gown. So, protect your gown! Get it out of the plastic bag and have it cleaned and preserved in an acid-free environment.

Permanent creasing
Flat storage is recommended for textiles and garments when possible. However, because of the size and dimensions of wedding gowns, it is impractical. Some compromise must be made, either by folding or hanging the gown. To help prevent permanent creasing, boxed gowns should be refolded into a different position every 2 – 3 years. (Cotton gloves should always be worn when handling preserved gowns.) Bagged gowns that are hung in a closet are not at risk for permanent creasing, and will not need to be handled periodically.

Mildew and mold
Keeping your gown in a breathable environment will protect it best from mildew and mold growth. When fabrics can breathe, the humidity level remains constant around the garment as excess moisture dissipates into the air. But, if moisture can condense inside a box or any container, then the gown is at risk for mildew and mold growth.

Oxidation spots
An oxidation spot can occur when a substance that was not properly cleaned on the dress oxidizes and turns brown. This can happen even if your dress has been cleaned as dry-cleaning solvents do not remove all substances. Spills from clear soda or wine may go unnoticed at the time of the initial cleaning. Unless these spills are pretreated, it is likely they will oxidize over time. Inspecting preserved gowns periodically ensures the gown remains in the best condition. The sooner an oxidized stain is caught, the more likely it will be able to be removed.

Light and dust
Keeping your gown covered will protect it from the damage caused by light and dust.

Preservation Options

There are several different types of gown preservation offered today. While there are slight variations offered, each will usually fall into one of these three categories:

  • Sealing
  • Boxing
  • Bagging

Sealing, Boxing or Bagging your Bridal Gown

Sealing
Most bridal gown preservation companies preserve bridal gowns in an acid-free box. Many have a window in which to see the gown. Acid-free tissue is usually used to buffer the folds and a cardboard shape is often used to fill the bodice area of the gown. However, some companies actually seal the gown inside the box.

The assumption with sealing the bridal gown is that the dress needs to be protected from oxygen. However, sealing a bridal gown puts it at greater risk for mildew and permanent creasing damage. Inspection is also impossible if the gown is sealed.

Boxing
Boxed preservation is similar to the sealing method but has some important differences. Like the sealing method, your dress is first cleaned and pressed, and then folded into an acid-free box. Sharp creases are avoided, and acid free tissue is used to buffer the folds. However, unlike the sealing method, the box is not sealed, and you are encouraged to open and inspect your gown.

Because the box is not sealed, the fabric can still breathe. And you will be able to refold your gown periodically. This will help protect your gown from getting permanent creases.

The appeal for a boxed or sealed gown is often greatest for brides with large dresses hoping to get their gowns out of their closet. However, this method may work best for smaller gowns that require minimal folding.

Acid-free box or just acid-free coated?
The quality of the acid-free boxes can vary significantly. Many preservation boxes are simply regular cardboard boxes with an acid free coating. These coatings will not hold up as well as authentic archival boxes made from actual acid-free board.

Bagging your bridal gown
This newer preservation method is not really so new. It is similar to what museums have used for preserving heirloom costumes and gowns for years. Often referred to as Museum Method,TM this preservation method is an excellent option, as it keeps the dress protected from dust and light. The gown remains un-folded, so permanent creasing risks are reduced. The bag allows the gown to breathe, which is essential in protecting the gown from mold and mildew. A bagged gown is the easiest to inspect periodically and requires no re-folding as the boxed method does.

Strapless and spaghetti strapped gowns, as well as heavy gowns should be reinforced with twill tape to add support, and eliminate any damage from long-term hanging. A padded hanger is also essential for long-term storage.

It is important to remember that a clean dress should not be left in the dry-cleaner’s plastic wrap or put back into a plastic garment bag. Remember, most plastics are an enemy to textiles. And the bagged gown should always be kept in climate controlled conditions. This is easily done is most closets.

Gown Preservation Options Overview

Sealing Benefits

Boxing Benefits

Bagging Benefits

  • Acid-free environment

  • Acid-free environment

  • Acid-free environment

  • Easily stored

  • Easily stored

  • Easily stored

  • Protected from dust and light

  • Protected from dust and light

  • Protected from dust and light

  • Can be inspected and admired

  • Most easily inspected and admired

  • Dress can breathe

  • Dress can breathe

  • Can be refolded periodically

  • Does not need refolding

  • No permanent creasing

  • Best air circulation

  • Needs no maintenance

No matter what type of preservation you choose, you should keep your preserved gown in a climate-controlled area. Do not be tempted to put your preserved gown in an attic or damp basement where temperatures and humidity levels will fluctuate dramatically. Fluctuating temperatures increase the deterioration rate of textiles.
 Leaving your wedding gown in a vinyl bridal gown bag will promote rapid yellowing. This article discusses this and other risks of not preserving wedding gowns. Also discussed are museum recommended garment preservation techniques, and the benefits of the varying wedding gown preservation options of sealing, boxing or Museum Method (hanging) preservation.
 

About the Author

Katherine Wright is a wedding gown preservation specialist and general partner of Heritage Garment Preservation located in Benicia, California providing Museum Method wedding gown preservation to the United States, Canada, and Europe.

(ArticlesBase SC #636831)

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/Get the Facts – Wedding Dress Preservation

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: