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Wedding Gown Preservation

Not just for your gown and veil! Archival materials included will allow you to safely store a variety of wedding memories, including your announcement and/ or invitation, cards and gift inserts, favors, dried flowers, photographs - whatever is most important to you.

A step-by-step guide to safely storing away wedding gowns, evening gowns, costumes and heirloom apparel:

1. Have the gown professionally cleaned. You really do not need, or want, the cardboard box with a viewing window that most drycleaners use. The window may give off acetic acid fumes over time and light is harmful to fibers and will cause yellowing. The cardboard is usually not archival grade. Do take the gown to a reputable drycleaner. Tell the drycleaner of any spills you know of and their composition and location so that they will be properly treated. Smaller items can be safely cleaned with the included packet of Eucalan Lavender Wash. It's wonderfully protective; follow brochure instructions.

2. For best and most economic storage, we recommend you purchase a white Rubbermaid® or Sterilite® box (underbed or otherwise) large enough to hold the garment(s). These storage boxes are made of polypropylene, which is an inert material used for archival application. Other brands may be safe as well; look for the #5 within the recycling code triangle or the letters "PP". We no longer offer archival board boxes, as their price and cost of shipping has become exorbitant. The MSRP is now $53.70 each and UPS Oversize shipping averages almost $20 per box. Polypropylene is, in fact, in some ways superior to archival board. The polypropylene boxes are not entirely airtight, which is good, and they offer an extra degree of protection against water damage (burst pipe?) and pests. Museum Specialists use them extensively.

3. Wash and dry your hands before handling the garment to remove naturally present acidic skin oils, lotions and creams or use the white cotton gloves included with your kit. Either will help prevent transfer oils from skin to garment. Remove any metal buttons or ornaments from the gown and store in an archival sleeve in the bottom of the box. If these are left on the gown, they may corrode and cause staining. Be sure and include a written reminder of where the buttons, etc. belong on the garment. If this is a bother, at least shield metal buttons with a bit of tissue crumpled around each.

4. Cover a large area with a clean white sheet or muslin and cover the sheet with a layer of acid and lignin free tissue. Use archival tissue - gift and drycleaner grade tissue are sometimes acid free, but they may not be lignin free. To be sure only use tissue produced for archival applications. Our tissue is produced for archival application. It passes several industry standard tests for archival use (the ANSI P.A.T. and the TAPPI T44 among them) and is pH neutral to slightly alkaline, safe for all materials.

5. Spread the gown out front down on the tissue and inspect carefully to be sure that it is clean and in good condition.

6. Lightly stuff the sleeves and the bodice with archival tissue. Your kit contains a separate package of smaller archival tissue sheets just for this use. Veil caps, purses and other three dimensional items may also be stuffed for support.

7. Beginning on one side and working around the gown, fold to the center while interleaving each fold with a sheet or 2 of lightly crumpled acid free tissue. The tissue will cushion the folds a bit to help prevent creasing and protect seams. Continue around the gown - folding and interleaving as you go, until you have the gown ready to fit into the storage box.

8. Line the box with a sheet or two of tissue, turn the gown over and place it in the box . Your kit contains a single wash packet of Eucalan Lavender Wash. You may use this wonderful wash to safely clean lingerie, hosiery or other items that you might wish to store with your gown or garment. Please be sure all items are thoroughly dry before adding.

9. Now add the sachet of french lavender. It will repel moths and other pests and will keep everything wonderfully fresh. Place the sachet in a corner behind some tissue so it will not actually touch the gown. Some storage boxes have a special compartment for sachets.

10. Place a copy of your wedding invitation (playbill, graduation announcement, prom invitation, baby announcement, etc.) in the box and with it a few lines telling a bit about the wedding - or prom - or christening. Don't be afraid to mention things that went "not according to plan" - you'll be so glad you did in years to come! Any photos and papers included should be in an archival sleeve or envelope so as not to come in direct content with the garment. Our kit contains both a parchment paper sheet to record provenance and archival sleeves. Use the resealable archival sleeve the instructions and the provenance sheet come in to store them in the box with the gown or garment. A copy of the provenance could be made and filed with other family papers. On it note the location of the garment.

11. Choose your storage spot carefully - the ideal spot is on a shelf in an interior closet. External walls can mean extreme temperature and humidity swings - which should be avoided due to the deteriorating effect of temperature swings on fiber (expansion and contraction) and the danger of mold and mildew growth caused by condensation. For this reason , and because of pests, the attic, the garage and the basement are all poor choices for storage. Be sure the storage area is not too near any plumbing pipes - the better to avoid the possibility of damage from a leak or a burst pipe. Remember above all that, just as average household temperature and humidity are best for you - so are they best for your stored garments.

12. Finally - inspect the gown, garments or textiles at least once a year. Four times a year is ideal - with each change of season. This will give early warning of any developing trouble while corrective measures are possible. When refolding the gown after inspection, do so along slightly different lines to minimize and equalize stress to fabric and seams. Check with your insurance agent be sure the gown or garment is covered.

Garment Preservation Pack™$34.90 Add to Cart!

Each Preservation Pack™ Includes:

  • 30 large sheets of Preservesmart™ acid and lignin free archival tissue paper 20X30"
  • 10 soft sheets of archival tissue for stuffing and support of sleeves, bodices, hats, purses, shoes, etc. 15X20"
  • single wash packet of Eucalan® Lavender Wash, a wonderful final conditioning wash before storage
  • muslin drawstring sachet of very fragrant french lavender to freshen garments and textiles and keep pests at bay
  • one pair white cotton conservator's gloves (keep them with the items for subsequent handling or keep for polishing or moisturizing - washable)
  • 5 large 15X4X8" PreserveSmart™ crystal clear archival bags for veil, shoes, lingerie and other memorabilia - quite large capacity
  • 5 double-faced satin or sheer ribbon ties in white, rich plum and moss to lightly tie the archival sleeves (or ask for single color at checkout)
  • complete directions with care and storage guidelines (no need to print this page)
  • elegant acid-free sheet for provenance with tips and suggestions for recording your memories
  • NEW! Preservesmart™ crystal clear archival envelope (8.5X11") for the provenance (the sheet comes in the sleeve for protection)
  • NEW! 3 Preservesmart™ crystal clear archive-safe sleeves (5.5X7.25") for cards, announcements, or photos
  • BONUS! Resealable packaging for every component is of clear archive grade film, giving you at least 6 additional archival sleeves in various sizes!
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