How can you protect an heirloom family wedding dress and make sure it can be passed on to future generations?
Wedding dresses are among the most memorable pieces of clothing that a woman will own in her lifetime. These magnificent dresses represent what is commonly considered the happiest day of a Bride’s life and a giant step to her future. Because a wedding gown represents such a significant occasion, many women choose to save their wedding memories through their wedding dress so they can pass it on to the next generation.
But what about the Bride who did not preserve her wedding gown years ago?
We have been asked many times about whether we can restore a wedding dress worn 40 or 50 years earlier by a family member. The answer I always give is that we can certainly try…and we won’t be sure until we do. But we can very likely improve the overall appearance of the wedding dress and help it survive several more generations. However, we cannot reverse permanent fabric damage that resulted from deep staining, mold, mildew, insects or neglect.
While passing on a gown is a wonderful idea, the problem with wedding dresses is that they are very delicate, and can become damaged quite easily. Wedding dresses that have been stored for a long period of time without proper preservation procedures will require fabric restoration procedures to bring them back closer toward their original glory.
Wedding dress restoration procedures may also be required for a wedding dress that was preserved years ago using the techniques of their time. But wedding dress preservation has dramatically improved over the last 20 years, including the development of the 100% acid-free preservation chests used by Certified Wedding Gown SpecialistsTM throughout the United States. Read more here about our recent wedding gown restoration of a 1968 wedding gown.
Fabric restoration is the process of refurbishing fabric that has been affected by disasters like fire or flooding as well those affected by heat, moisture or neglect for many years. When we are asked about wedding gwon restoration, fabric problems most often resulted from exposure to the elements over a long period of time with little , if any, attention to the wedding dress.
The typical long-term problems facing a family heirloom garment like a wedding dress are yellowing and fabric damage from mold, mildew, insects and neglect.
Here’s how to avoid the garment preservation problems with a heirloom garment at home:
- Clean your wedding dress as soon as possible after the wedding. This removes any food particles that might invite insects that can damage your dress.
- Avoid storing your dress in the high humidity of a basement. Humidity can cause mold and mildew.
- Avoid storing your dress in the heat of an attic. Heat can cause yellowing and fabric weakness.
- Preserve your wedding dress and seal the container. This will reduce the risk of yellowing and will help prevent insect damage.
- Periodically inspect your wedding dress for any signs of yellowing or other damage. Re-seal it when finished. A cycle of at least every five years is the longest the dress should go between inspections.
- When you inspect your cleaned and preserved wedding dress, be sure to handle it with cotton gloves to keep the dress free of body oils that can cause discoloration over time.
It is certainly possible to restore and preserve 50 year old wedding gowns. The best advice to follow if you want your wedding gown to last to the next generation or beyond is to get it preserved and inspect it periodically.
Using a family wedding dress followed by preserving the dress for future generations is a great way to to adopt a green wedding strategy. The same applies to restoring a vintage wedding dress and using it for your wedding. Read more about green wedding trends from the Green Bride Guide here.
At Champion Wedding Gown Specialist we include a pair of cotton gloves with every wedding gown preservation.
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