Flower Girl and Communion Dress Preservation

Flower Girl and Communion Dress Preservation | Pegeen

Tips on Christening Gowns, Flower Girl and Communion Dress Preservation by Sally Lorensen Conant, Ph.D. Your child was adorable in that special little dress or suit. Now you want to be sure it is perfect for the next occasion. Make sure your children’s charming little suits and dresses are perfect for the next occasion! Given proper care, the clothing your child wore for the ceremony, whether it was a baptism, wedding, communion or some other family observance, can become an heirloom for the next generations of your family.

Below are the following rules to follow for Preserving your Heirloom:

For temporary storage:

Always look for any stains before storing the garment.

Cotton, silk, and linen are hollow fibers. If something is spilled, the spill penetrates the fiber and acts like a dye. The longer the stain is left untreated, the more difficult it will be to remove it. If you see nothing, check again in six months. There are some stains such as ginger ale that dry clear, but the sugar in the stain will caramelize over time, and these latent stains first turn yellow and then dark brown. When the stains are still pale yellow, they can often be removed with dry cleaning. Once they have turned brown, the fabric very probably will have to go through a special process called restoration to remove them.

Always dry clean silk clothing.

Water dissolves the sizing that gives the silk its special sheen, and wet cleaning can leave silk looking limp and wrinkled. Ask the drycleaner what solvent is in the drycleaning machine. Some solvents give a better result than others, and petroleum solvent is often the best choice for silk. Also, ask what precautions are taken to protect any trim or decorations. Flowers may have to be removed, and beads may have to be covered with muslin during the cleaning process.

Always remove clothing of any fabric from plastic bags.

Plastic can emit fumes that yellow your clothing. You should always remove the plastic bags that come from the cleaners. Plastic garment bags are also bad for your clothing, especially if they have metal zippers that can make the damage from fumes even worse. For temporary storage, anything made of fabric will do—an old sheet, an old pillow case or freshly washed muslin will protect your clothing from light, dust and dirt. You can also buy cloth garment bags. The best ones do not have zippers, but if they do, the zippers should be nylon.

Always avoid storing clothing of any fabric in the attic or basement.

Extreme changes in heat and humidity can damage fabric. Attics are too hot, and basements are damp. And if a pipe breaks, it is a law that the water will find your clothing.

For long-term storage:

Fabrics are safest when they are kept in something with a structure that protects your clothing from being crushed or pierced with sharp objects. They also take up less space than when hanging in your closet. Many drycleaners specialize in cleaning and preserving fine fabrics. {For a Specialist near you click here

Most fabric conservators suggest using paperboard boxes that allow the fabric to “breathe,” that is, expand and contract with changes in heat and humidity. Both the paperboard and the tissue must be completely acid-free because the acid in ordinary boxes and paper will scorch your gown. pH-neutral paperboard and tissue are not reliable because humidity can cause them to re-acidify.

When packing clothing for long-term storage:

1. Fold clothing as few times as possible to prevent creases.

2. Use acid-free tissue to buffer each fold.

3. Stuff sleeves and bows with tissue to keep them shaped properly.

4. Separate garments with tissue to prevent any possible color transfer from one to another.

Remember, fabric has a shelf life of 200 years if it is treated nicely—plenty of time for many, many children in your family to enjoy your precious little suits and dresses!

Flower Girl Dress

Sally Lorensen Conant, Ph.D.

Association of Wedding Gown Specialists

If you have questions or special concerns, please do e-mail me at info @ WeddingGownSpecialists.com

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