Bridal Gown Preservation FAQs
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You should have your gown professionally cleaned as soon as possible after your wedding. The longer stains remain on the gown, the more difficult they are to remove and the harder it is on the garment to remove them. Margaret’s offers complimentary pickup of your gown from your wedding venue in San Diego, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills and West LA.

We also offer gown preservation with free shipping in both directions to and from any U.S. city through our CleanByMai™l service (insurance on the shipping is paid by the bride). Shipping on international orders is available, but not free of charge. Margaret’s offers a discount program to brides who book their preservation in advance of their wedding date, as well as packages that include pre-wedding and post-wedding services for a full-service experience, from initial purchase of your gown through final preservation.

Over the years, and with the experience of cleaning thousands of gowns, we have developed proprietary gentle soaking procedures to safely remove stains even from silk satin gowns. Few preservationists are capable of matching our stain removal successes. Here is an overview of our cleaning and preservation procedure.

    • Inspect thoroughly for stains, wear, age and oxidation. We use a proprietary multi-spectrum system to help identify currently invisible stains. We then test the beads and trim for serviceability.
    1. Tighten or replace beading and repair as needed.
    • Hand clean using gentle proprietary soaking procedures.
    • Rinse in a virgin solvent for a brief period to remove all cleaning agents.
    • Anti-sugar treatment prevents latent caramelized stains. (see next FAQ on Anti-Sugar Treatment)
    • Inspect thoroughly for stains and latent sugars after cleaning.
    • Post cleaning stain removal if still needed.
    • Tighten beading and seams as required. Replace any missing ornamentation.
    • Hand finish the gown with extreme care to respect the designer's lines and drape.
    • Customer Inspection of the gown prior to boxing, if desired.
    • Package in a clean room in an archival-quality acid-free box with acid-free tissue and an unbleached cotton muslin liner.
    • Video link (private) is provided following the preservation of your gown so that you can actually watch your gown being boxed.
    • Bridal report of before and after photos of your gown provided at pick-up.

There is much more to preserving a gown than removing all the visible stains and placing it in an acid-free box. Many preserved gowns look fine just after cleaning. However, invisible stains may still persist. Sugar stains are initially invisible, but with time they will darken and seriously stain the gown. This process is called caramelization. Such stains are the product of soda, champagne, and other sugars that the cleaning process does not entirely remove.

For this reason, Margaret’s puts each gown through a proprietary Anti-Sugar Treatment. Once treated, the gowns are thoroughly inspected with a proprietary multi-spectrum lighting system to identify any latent sugar stains, and then each stain is individually removed and then re-inspected once cleaned. The necessity of performing this anti-sugar treatment cannot be emphasized enough, especially on silk gowns.

Completely archival, our storage box and tissue are acid-free, sulfur and lignin-free, and buffered to remain acid-free. Just because a product (like cardboard) is described as acid-free that doesn’t mean it will remain acid-free. Only true archival-quality products are guaranteed to remain acid free.

The desized, unbleached, and washed cotton muslin liner bag we use fits over the box to keep the box clean. It serves as a fabric filter and blotter which helps keep any moisture away from the gown. It can be easily washed, and still allows maximum breathability for the gown.

Typically, many dry cleaners completely seal the gown boxes in plastic following preservation. The sealed box method uses a seal to stabilize the cardboard box that is typically not of archival quality. Even though most boxes these days are acid-free, they are not archival quality and do contain sulfur and lignin that will eventually turn acidic once exposed to moisture and air. In addition, you’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of brides around the globe who opened up the box years later only to find that: a) it wasn’t their dress in the box, b) there wasn’t even a dress in the box, or c) the dress was badly stained after many years.

The materials Margaret's utilizes are truly archival and not sealed. Museum conservators recommend the unsealed Museum Box Storage method over the sealed box method. All materials Margaret's uses are truly archival in nature.

Museum Conservators on vacuum sealing: Norman Oehlke, Director of Member Services at the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute (DLI), states, "You cannot vacuum seal a cardboard box. It requires a steel or glass container that cannot breathe."

Even if there were such a thing as vacuum sealing a cardboard box, Dr. Nancy Kerr, Professor of Textile Science at the University of Alberta states, "Vacuum sealing is not a good idea, because any moisture trapped inside leads to mildew."

Jane Batchelder, Technologist at the Textile Analysis Service in Edmonton, Alberta states, "Vacuum sealing is supposed to remove gasses like oxygen which cause fabric degradation such as yellowing. But, it's important to avoid gas buildup by letting air circulate."

In the same vein, Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, Textile Conservator at the Stiftung in Bern, Switzerland states, "Let us suppose that a 100% dust-free, air-free storage unit and showcase exists. Even with clean textiles, such an environment would not be ideal because textiles need to breathe."

Anne Lambert of the University of Alberta states, "Textiles themselves are among the most useful materials in textile storage. If atmospheric conditions change, textiles act as a buffer for storage systems. An advantage of using textiles is that they may be periodically rewashed." Justin E. Leene states in her book, "The muslin liner serves as a fabric filter which can remove 99.99% of the incoming suspended dirt."

Katherine Dirks of the Museum of Natural History states, "Don't let plastic touch fabrics. Plastic can decompose, some give off fumes."

Justin E. Leene writes in her book, Textile Conservation, "Excess humidity causes the greatest damage in a storeroom. For this reason textiles should not be stored in sealed polyethylene bags."

In the NCA's bulletin on Wedding Gowns, Dan Eisen states, "Do not cover or seal with plastic since this type of storage builds up an acid condition that hastens deterioration."

In the DLI's bulletin TOI-618, James Kirby and Mary Scalco state, "The use of plastic windows is not recommended due to moisture and possible mildew damage."

We typically have excellent success restoring lace that has yellowed with age. Posted on our website is a photo of a vintage dress that we restored half and sewed it back together. The lace had severely yellowed on this gown. This should give you an idea of what is possible. This all assumes the lace has not become overly brittle and can withstand the processing necessary. Please call our Bridal Co-ordinator at (866) 454-2375 to discuss pricing and further details.

 


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