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How to Clean A Vintage Lace and Silk Wedding Dress

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By yvonne

My Laundry Question

Hi, I have an antique wedding dress to alter and clean. It is made of hand made lace on the bodice and sleeves and silk slipper satin for the skirt and train. It was hand made in France and is insured for £3.500 for cleaning purposes. I am altering it for the owner's granddaughter and it is about 60 year sold. It has brown stains on some of the sleeve (made of lace) and part of the bodice which is lace line in the silk. What do you suggest that I attempt to clean with to restore to original please. The wedding is in 2 wks time. Your suggestions would be appreciated,

Look forward to hearing from you.


Share a Little Background Info

It is extremely old and has been stored in a wardrobe with a plastic cover on for nearly 60 years. HELP! Think its a combination of age plus being stored in a wooden wardrobe for all this time. It has brown tinged staining mostly down one side, which was against the wall of the wardrobe. A very elderly couple live in it (the grandparents) and I don't think the property gets aired much. Perhaps the stains are a mixture of age and dampness etc. The stains are on one side of the dress and are on the lace part are brown in colour.

Lessons Learned

  • I have to alter this garment this week, and also repair and reinstall stitching to boning. The thread supports have given way and require to be replaced. Have not tried to remove brown staining as would welcome any advices first.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

cotton hand made lace of 60 years. Also slipper satin silk for lining and base of garment.

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

The dress sounds just lovely. I don't know if you are a professional cleaner or a do-it-yourselfer. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, I would suggest taking the dress to a professional cleaner. The cleaner will know how to remove the stains and preserve the integrity of the lace and the silk.

If that isn't possible, your best try is to hand-wash in cool water with a detergent made for delicate items. NOTE: THIS MAY DAMAGE THE DRESS AND CAUSE THE FABRIC TO SHRINK. If you handwash, do it gently in a large tub or sink. Do not wring the dress and allow it to dry flat. For the stains, an oxygen-based bleach (NOT CHLORINE) may remove the stains.

Here are my tips on handwashing, cleaning silk, cleaning lace and removing stains caused by contact with wood.

Good luck!

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