HOW TO PRESERVE YOUR WEDDING DRESS
Many people believe that Vacuum packing of gowns and dresses is the absolute best way to preserve a garment over the years. This process was quite the rage in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but it is now believed that the problems associated with vacuum packing far outweigh the benefits. The primary problem with vacuum packing is:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Garments need to breathe. Contrary to popular belief , Oxidation and the resulting discoloration is caused by many things, including using tissue or cardboard which is not acid free. Oxygen is NOT dangerous to your garments
- The plastic bag contains chemicals. To achieve a vacuum, plastic bags must be used. These bags themselves can introduce chemicals into the garment.
- It’s expensive. In reality, many supposed “storage experts” make a good income from vacuum sealing.
For guidance on the way experts preserve garments please consider how the conservators at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London preserve their museum 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. Most 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.
Jeeves Recommends that the absolute best way to preserve a garment over the years is to:
- Be sure the garment is thoroughly and professionally cleaned prior to storage to prevent any existing stains and impurities from oxidizing the material over time.
- Either hang the garment on a padded hanger and enclose the garment in a pure white cotton cover or place it in a acid free box (avaliable from Jeeves) and place plenty of special acid free tissue paper inside and around the garment.
- Keep the garment away from sunlight and in a clean, cool and dry environment. An air-conditioned room (given our tropical climate) is the best option.
- Inspect the garment thoroughly once a year to ensure sure that no mold or mildew has formed on the garment.
Sadly, everything does age with time, and there is no way to prevent all aging and yellowing over very long periods of time. Nevertheless, the above advice should give you the best possible results.
We hope that this information has been useful and informative. Please let us know should you require any additional advice.