Caring for a vintage wedding dress takes time, care and knowledge of the techniques appropriate to the era in which the garment was created. Something made in 1933 isn't capable of dealing with modern detergents, harsh bleaches or super-powered washing machines.
Bridal gowns are, in general, very expensive and delicate garments. They tend to have fragile fabrics, tailored shapes and detailed decorations. Vintage bridal gowns are all the more expensive and delicate. Basic machine and hand sewing was likely used for the details on a vintage wedding dress, making it extremely fragile.
Proper care for vintage wedding dresses has two main goals, to prevent color and material damage. Colors can dull and turn yellow with time, not to mention gather stains. Material can mold and deteriorate into dust. The best, basic care for bridal gowns should keep the garments dry, cool, clean and crease-free to prevent these problems.
It's best to invest in professional care if you've invested in a vintage wedding dress. Although it can cost a pretty penny and is usually only used by collectors, professional care is worth investigating. Find a shop that offers museum garment preservation methods and see if their help is something you can afford.
Most museums recommend that brides do not have dresses sealed for preservation; museums actually warn against any companies that offer preservation, even if they offer a warranty. Storing a dress in plastic can cause severe yellowing as the plastic fumes react with the material. Acid-free covers, such as layers of cotton sheets, are suggested as better covering than plastics.
Stuffing your dress can help preserve its shape and prevent wrinkles during storage. It's best to use acid-free tissue paper for this. Use buffered paper for synthetic materials and un-buffered paper for natural materials. The tissue paper can also be used as a covering for the garment.
Where you store your vintage wedding gown can be as important to its preservation as how you store it. Vintage clothing must be kept in a cool, dry and climate-controlled area. Typical basements, garages and attics are not a good choice, as they tend to have conditions that vary wildly. If the room gets hot or humid, even slightly, the conditions and fluctuation can wreak havoc on your gown.
The best dress for a summer wedding is one that is lightweight to help keep you cool. Summer dresses mean breathable fabrics and less material.
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