Friday, January 17, 2014

To clean or not to clean. ..

That is the question. Quite frequently in my work with vintage materials -especially with vintage wedding dresses- I am challenged with taking the risk of cleaning an item. With this particular 1940's wedding dress there is a stain on the right side of the lace bodice. Upon first glance I decide yes I can get the stain out but it will require removing the buttons. Ah yes, all those beautiful buttons. I've learned the hard way (with one of my very first vintage bridal gowns)that if you are going to clean, especially hand wash, you must remove the buttons. The old buttons were made with a type of metal base that will rust and ruin not only the buttons but will leach out onto your whole dress. Yes, this did happen to me with my first bride. Unfortunately, the dress was in perfect condition but the bride's mother wanted it "freshened up". Needless to say it was a disaster. (On top of that the bride didn't like the lighter 'fresher' color! She loved the original antique hue. Who knew it would turn so white!) So, my original post was supposed to be about removing buttons before cleaning. And this is still valuable information. But upon closer inspection of the lace I see that it is too fragile to withstand an even gentle washing. I often remind people that it's not the dress that is 70 years or more old but the fabric is that old. So, in conclusion you always have to weigh the pros and cons. If you love the dress and accept it as is then by all means wear it in all it's vintage glory!