Monday, January 21, 2013

Grandma's Wedding Dress

Let me first say, I was very lucky in that my mom and my grandma both still have their wedding dresses.  But let me also say, mom and grandma were very very petite women.  I am small, but not that small  :)  hah  I had hoped to wear one of their dresses, but after all the alterations that would need to be done, it didn't seem quite worth it.

I had known that my mom still had her wedding dress, but I did not know grandma still had hers.  Over Christmas break, Josh and I stopped in to say hello and started talking about the wedding, and then my wedding dress.  Grandma asked if I liked hers and that she still had it.  She took me down into her basement and pulled out this teeny tiny suitcase.  I said "is your dress really in here??".  It was!  We opened up the suitcase, and not only was her dress and all the accessories in there, but also the dress she wore for her sisters wedding and her cake topper.  The dress was in quite good shape for being stored in the same suitcase for 55 years.  So, with that, grandma and I played dress up.
 I put on everything, even the hat that was too small!
 Then grandma held the dress on me (since it wouldn't zip up) and hid "out of view".
It was a very cute dress, but in need of a bath as it smelled like basement.  So, I brought it downstate with me to see what I could do with it.  Grandma put it all back in a tiny box for me to take.


 

 

 The dress came with a hat, clutch, bolero, "arm warmers" and a crinoline (or a "hooped slip" if you are like me and had never heard of this word until google-ing it).



 What a cute trendy dress!  Grandma had style  :)  The biggest issue with the dress (as shown in a photo above) is a big rip in the outer layer of lace in the dress - about 6" long.  Other than that, and a bit of yellowing in places, the dress was in perfect shape.

I first took it to a dry cleaning place that specialized in cleaning old gowns.  They gave me a price of $325 and could not guarantee that the dress would make it out alive.  After reading a TON of articles on the internet, I decided I would just clean it myself.  I bought a container of OxiClean and went to work.

I first washed some of the smaller items, starting with the "arm warmers" to make sure the fabric would hold up ok.  There would have been nothing worse that grandma's dress disintegrating in the bathtub.  I first tried washing the accessories with plain laundry soap, but it was hard to get out all the yellow and basement smell with just that.  The OxiClean was great for whitening things up and removing the smell.  I soaked most of the items in OxiClean over night.

The clutch was in the worst shape, stain-wise, with a big stain on the front, but by allowing an OxiClean paste to sit on it for a few hours, I was able to get it off.

 As far as damage, the hoop skirt was not in the best shape.  It was showing its age with holes all over it.  Luckily, this goes under the dress and no one sees it  ;)
 After convincing myself that the dress would be ok in water, I filled up a nice soapy bath for it.  I didn't use OxiClean because it said not to use on silks and I did not want to chance it.
 In went the dress!  Look at how yellow it turned the water.  The smell was horrendous; smelling of old damp moldy basement.  I let it soak in the laundry soap water all day and then rinsed the dress with the pull down shower head.  Lastly, I filled up the tub with warm clean water and let it soak overnight.  In the morning, I drained the water and let the dress lay and dry out for a couple hours.  Then, when the dress had shed most of the water, I hung it up in the bathroom on a hanger to finish drying.
 And here she is!  Beautiful, white and clean!  A few stains were still present on all 3 layers of the dress.  Looked like something got spilled on it.
 I cleaned these up with a mixture of OxiClean and water and let it set on the stains.  It helps to remoisturize the stains every hour to keep the OxiClean working.
 When I had finished the spot cleaning on the inside layer, I re-washed that layer only in the bathtub.  I had noticed that if I didn't do this with other things (mostly the clutch), that a yellow ring would appear where the stain had lifted but then moved to the outside of the wet area.

After the dress was all clean, my model came over to give the dress a go.  By model, I mean my cousin Lisa :)

She wasn't able to breath while it was on, but we got er zipped up!  The hat fit too  :)
 I, of course, made her put everything on too.  The dress looks so so SO amazing when it actually zips :)  And doesn't smell like moldy basement..haha

I won't be wearing the dress for my wedding, but I may use the bolero and clutch.  And who knows, maybe Lisa will wear it for her wedding, when she gets engaged  ;)






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