Monday, October 7, 2013

Cleaning a Wedding Gown

What I've learned about cleaning a vintage, yellowed, and dirty wedding gown:

Having had three of our children marry in 8 months between December 2012 and August 2013, a son and two daughters, I have learned a LOT about weddings... planning, food, decor, money matters, dress altering, dress making, time and energy management,  and especially relationship management.  But for this episode, I will focus on cleaning an old dress.

First of all you should know the story of our daughter Kaloni's dream dress:



This is our beautiful daughter Kaloni in her dress after we had cleaned and altered it but before we steamed it.



Kaloni found her dress in a thrift shop at age 16 when she was browsing with her sister Whitney.  they both loved it argued over it in the store and for several years later, but the bottom line was that Kaloni paid the $13.00 asked for it and it became hers.

In the beginning it had shorter sleeves, the lace bodice was sheer much too low for our modest tastes and was yellow, dirty and much too large.  But... it sure made fun dress up and imagining for a few years.  Fast forward to Kaloni becoming engaged in the spring of 2013.

For anyone attending BYU-Idaho in Rexburg Idaho, you have a dream of a resource available to you.  We had previously discovered the blessing of the University Costume department to do some altering on a wedding dress I had made for daughter Whitney, who then lost weight before her wedding but AFTER the dress was completed!  They are talented, fast and CHEAP!
Kaloni took her dress in for a fitting, and voila!  For $120.00 they lined the bodice, took in the dress all over, moved the zipper and added faux buttons down the back!  Later, after she was home and away from the University, she decided the short sleeves were not as flattering or consistent with the high neck, so I changed the sleeves myself.  So for the total $140.00 Kaloni had her wedding dress.

It still needed cleaning however and in our small South East Washington Community I could not find a cleaners I felt confident turning over her dress to.  After a great deal of on-line research, analyzing her fabric, and a few prayers, and deep breaths, this is what I did.

 I ended up washing Kaloni's dress myself .   A number of the pearls that were glued on, came off in the process, but the dress turned out beautiful. Her dress was polyester lace and while quite fragile, was washable.

1.  I put a white sheet in a tub of cold water and woolite and a very dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide.  The sheet is used to lift and lower the dress in and out of the water to keep from tearing the fragile dress fabric when it is heavy with water.   ( You could also try oxiclean).

2.   Let it soak a long time, like 6-8 hours.

3.   I agitated it every so often by lifting the sheet so as not to stretch or pull on the lace or fragile fabric. 

4.  Then I gently squeezed it, rolled it in a white towel, and then laid it out on another sheet to dry. These two products will be safe on most fibers and should not bleach the gown. Be sure to test the color fastness of the dress in an area not immediately visible when wearing the dress. Good luck

Additionally  do NOT seal it in a box when you are done, or store it in plastic. The plastic fumes can cause yellowing. I made muslin bags with a drawstring on the bottom, to cover them give them air and keep them from light. Use the little hanging strings to prevent stress on lace or shoulders etc.  Occasionally get the dress out, look at it, and have someone try it on for fun now and then. This is actually good for the dress, and catches problems and prevents permanent wrinkles.. And it's fun!
Dancing with her sweetheart  (and husband)
Kyle Udall.

Dancing with her Daddy.  (She also wore
my beaded veil which matched perfectly.)


A beautiful dress for a beautiful day, setting, and memory.  We love you Kyle and Kaloni !



I Have the BEST Job in the World!

I have the BEST job in the world!  I am a Home Maker.


Today I went to the gym after cleaning the kitchen, and emptying the dishwasher.  I have mowed the lawn,  watered plants, filed papers, folded laundry, made Visiting Teaching appointments to check on a few ladies in my church I look after,  as well some e-mail assignments for my church assignment, (we call it a "calling" since we do not volunteer for them but accept assignments as called and asked by the Lord through our church leaders),  AND listened to these great free on-line Economics courses from Hillsdale College while I was doing much of that.

  I am on week 3.  Next,  I will continue listening while I pay the bills,  start dinner and as many other things on my list as possible.  I bet none of my "paid" associates accomplish more of value or enjoyed their work more!  I love my life.    Hope you do too!