Friday, August 31, 2018

Wedding Gown Care

 by: Carol Clarke of  

Most gowns are designed to be worn only one time. The designer uses fragile fabrics, delicate trims and beads to make the most elegant looking gown for each bride’s special day. Unlike our everyday clothes, these specialized garments cannot be cleaned in the same manner as your favorite silk blouse or your polyester slacks by the dry cleaner. Special processes, solutions, procedures need to be followed to make sure the soil and stains are properly removed without damage to the gown. They cannot withstand abrasive treatment and should not be totally saturated with solvent, solutions or liquid which will dramatically increase the weight of the gown. Any major movement or agitation could cause major damage to the gown. Invisible stains are important to identify. They are called invisible because they cannot be seen with the naked eye, but the aid of a “black” light will identify them, which shows the area affected and allows the technician to clean the spot or stain completely before the gown goes into the machine. Not cleaning these soil stains properly could result in brownish colored stains in the future, much like when you cut an apple and leave it sitting for a period of time in the air. It starts to turn brown; much like the garment stains will do over time. A bride will never hear a guest say ….” Oh you look so beautiful in this gown, and by the way, I just spilled some of my drink on the side of it”. And if the dry cleaner / technician does not properly “flush” the solvent from the stain area, in years to come, there will be a ring area around where the soil was which may also discolor and affect the fabric of the gown. If you are not able to clean your gown within 2-3 weeks after the wedding, do not store it in plastic. The garment needs to “breathe”. You can always wrap it in a sheet, or if you have a cotton/mesh type garment bag, it can be returned to hang there. Gowns should not hang for more than 6-9 months, as the weight of the gown can pull on the bodice fibers and the risk of a “torque” to the bodice may require major alterations if someone else wants to wear the gown. You have made a major investment in your gown and cleaning it should be done by a professional who is experienced in gown cleaning. Many cleaners will clean gowns, or even send them out to be cleaned, but the person who is actually doing the work should be trained in the proper techniques and procedures. You are entitled to know how and who will be doing the actual cleaning and a reputable cleaner will provide you with all the information to give you a comfort level that your gown is in good hands. Mailing your gown to an out of state cleaning facility has risk and should be evaluated carefully. Here are some tips for keeping your prized wedding gown clean and ready for your perfect day starts the moment you bring it home from the Bridal Salon. First take your gown out of the plastic garment bag and hang it somewhere it will be safe from little children and pets. Breathing is important to your gown. It cannot properly breathe while covered in plastic. Inspect your gown – inside and out. Check for loose seams and beads. Avoid storing your wedding gown in a plastic bag or container. Plastic emits fumes which can yellow or trap moisture which will be harmful to your gown. Protect your gown from exposure to light, dust, and air by loosely wrapping it in a clean sheet or freshly laundered unbleached muslin. Hang your gown using the loops inside the gown which are attached to the side seams, never by the fragile shoulder seams which can stretch or sag. A Final Fitting should be completed 2 to 4 weeks prior to your wedding in order to complete any last minute alterations and tailoring. Pre Wedding Touch up – Have your gown steamed and pressed by a cleaner or salon that is trained in gown care and has specialized equipment for this purpose. Pick up your gown 1 – 2 days prior to your wedding date. Transport your gown to the wedding site in a gown carrying and preservation bag (or protected by a clean sheet pinned around the gown). Consider using a gown specialist who can deliver your gown directly to your wedding site. Emergency items are important. Attach a few safety pins to a hidden inside seam of your gown prior to the wedding. Most problems occur when a seam opens or the gown gets stepped on during the reception. Safety pins provide a quick fix.

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