In December, my cousin arrived at my house bearing a priceless treasure–my grandmother’s wedding dress. The dress is an ivory lace with a gathered satin band around the waist. Originally it would have had an undergarment of some kind, but I’m not sure what fabric it would have been. For being 90 years old, the dress is in remarkably good condition–no tears of any kind, and only one small stain.
The dress is beautiful, with an intricate design. However, it is tiny and short–two features I don’t remember associating with my grandmother–but of course she probably looked a lot different in 1913 than I remember her in 1959.
My main concern is how to remove the stain (or should I?), and how to make sure the dress is properly preserved for future generations.
I searched the Web and found several excellent sites on preservation. I discovered that light is a primary culprit in discoloring or yellowing textiles and that the rate of deterioration is determined by the length and strength of exposure.
Other damaging factors are high temperature and airborne contaminants. And, several storage containers emit harmful chemicals–so an acid-free archival storage box seems to be my best bet. I would like to display the dress, but need to do further research. I suspect a phone call to a textile expert is in the offing.
I would love to hear about your special family treasure–write and tell me about it – and send a digital photo if you have one. I’d love to see what your family is preserving.
I’m just beginning my search, but to date I’ve found these sites on preserving family treasures:
- American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
- Storing Antique Textiles
- Northern States Conservation Center
- War Letters