Wedding Tips

How do you fix a yellowed wedding dress?

Can a yellowed wedding dress be easily cleaned? No. Have you ever considered trying it? Yes! If you've been looking for the perfect tea-length dress since the 1950s but haven't found it yet, that's great news. How do you plan on making it look like a brand new dress again?

If you're like most brides, you probably bought your dress months before the wedding, so it's crucial that you take care of it both before and after the big day.

What Causes Fabric to Age and Turn Yellow?

The yellowing of fabrics is one of the oldest and most pervasive quality issues in the textile business. It's terrible news for weddings, but market whites and pastels are the colours of fabric most prone to fading. This age-old mystery is easily explained: the chemical breakdown of the original fabric fibres over time. It's a sign that the colourless chemicals within the fabric have begun the inevitable process of degradation and have changed to a light to moderate yellow. Older gowns often show signs of chemical decomposition after being stored for a long time, including the development of very dark brown (sometimes even black) stains that were not present when the garment was placed away.

Many brides preserve their dresses in plastic bags, which is a major cause of yellowing. As a general rule, plastics emit toxic vapours that speed up the process of yellowing. However, some textiles will yellow more than others, and it may be impossible to avoid all yellowing even with the best of care.

When Does a Wedding Gown Start to Turn Yellow?

If your wedding dress is not properly cleaned, cared for, and stored after the big day, the delicate textiles will start to yellow in as little as six months. Keep in mind that the stains you can't see are the main causes of future spot staining and general fabric yellowing, even if your wedding dress looks nearly beautiful once the big day is done.

After only six months, delicate materials like satin and chiffon will develop a faded yellow colour and gradually begin to turn darker shades of yellow throughout the years, eventually reaching hues of pale brown in just a few decades. Fabrics can yellow even when exposed to optimum conditions, such as the ones seen here. The fading of your wedding dress will accelerate if you keep it in a damp cellar, a hot attic or garage, or a location exposed to direct sunlight.

Spot "scorching" to your wedding dress is what the industry calls the gradual yellowing of the fabric brought on by undetectable stains. Invisible to the naked eye when you stored your wedding dress, perspiration, deodorant, white wine, and other impurities from your big day eventually turned into these unattractive brown blotches. These imperceptible spots were full of chemicals, and the sugar they hid would eventually caramelise into the fabric of your gown, ruining it.

Check our Top Wedding Dress Shops In Melbourne for your list of some of the most exclusive dress shops.

The Most Effective Way to Restore the Yellowed Dress

If you look at the garment's care label, you can learn about the fabric and the recommended cleaning method. If you follow these instructions, your garment should come out of the dry cleaner looking as good as new. Check the fabric composition if there is no care label.

Polyester, acetate, chiffon, voile, tulle, organza, and cotton dresses for the big day may be salvageable if stains and discoloration aren't too severe and can be treated at home. If the stain is severe, have it dry cleaned by a professional. To keep the embellishments on your dress and not have them fall off, we recommend having it dry cleaned or having it cleaned by hand. Professional dry cleaning is recommended for dresses made of delicate fabrics like silk, satin, taffeta, shantung, and rayon.

Washing Dresses at Home

Begin by applying the mixture of mild liquid laundry soap and lukewarm water to the dress with a clean cloth or just a toothbrush if the care label specifies hand or machine cleaning is appropriate. To remove the stains, you can also use baking soda and vinegar. The discoloration can be removed even further by applying a cloth stain remover to the affected areas and rubbing with a damp towel.

If the instructions for care state that hand washing is required after applying a spot treatment to the stained areas, then do so in the tub. To clean the clothes, simply soak them in a tub of warm water and use a gentle liquid detergent. Putting bleach to use is not something you should do. Submerge the garment in water, wrong side up. If you want to wash your clothes, you shouldn't scrub them, just move them around in the water. Drain the tub and refill it with warm water, and then gently swirl the dress in the water to remove any soap residue. There may be a need for additional washings before the water is completely clear. Machine washable dresses should be washed on the gentle cycle. It's best to wash and dry the dress in the fresh air. Stop messing with the dryer!

What Are Some of the Potential Flaws You Might Find?

For your information and to help you understand the potential dangers involved in restoring historic clothing, we have compiled a list of some of the more typical difficulties in restoring bridal gowns.

Vintage Buttons

Buttons are a common source of frustration with vintage wedding dresses. Buttons on your dress could be made of anything from wood to metal to paper pulp, depending on how old it is. Many older buttons aren't water- or chemical-resistant and will be damaged by the restoration process. The upkeep of your vintage buttons may cost you extra.

Vintage Lace

As a result of the chemicals used in restoration, many antique laces become brittle. There's a chance they'll rip in processing or shortly after. These tears may usually be fixed at an extra fee, though.

Vintage Satin Fabric

Though the satin fabrics could potentially be whitened successfully, some of their sheen could be lost in the process. Even though fading and brown stains can be professionally cleaned out, the final colour of the dress might not be completely ivory or off-white. There could be some colour variation. In all likelihood, the satin has aged and lost some of its heft. Wet cleaning, or soaking in a chemical solution, has removed the sizing. Altering a garment's size is a service some dry cleaners offer, though it depends on the fabric, design, and function of the item being altered. Fabrics made from rayon and cotton, such as satins and brocades, can shrink slightly when bleached.

Vintage Veils

Very old veils, like those from the 1950s, are extremely challenging, if not impossible, to clean properly. They could deteriorate if exposed to water or a chemical. Formal garment cleaners usually have enough experience to hazard a guess as to whether or not a veil can be saved. If the hairpiece can be fixed, new tulle can be sown on top of the old. However, the expense of restoring any crowning pieces will be handled independently. Tears in tulle will be repaired free of charge as part of the service.

Other Details

Prior to the Museum Method (hanging) of preservation, straps made of cotton twill tape will be sewn into the bodice (or waistlines) of your wedding dress to add support and distribute the weight of the gown more evenly. This is especially important for strapless dresses, those with thick straps, and those with no straps at all.

All of the bust cups have been removed from the dresses in the museum's collection. Styrofoam, a common ingredient in these bust cups, is bad for your health and your wedding dress. We're returning the rented bust cups along with the bridal gown.

The Museum Method requires the wedding dress to be folded before shipping. Due to the size of the boxes we are using, we are able to minimise the amount of folding that is necessary. Traditionally, the wedding dress is hung in a closet after being taken out of its storage bag and the box it came in.

It's touching to wear a veil that has special meaning to you or that has been in your family for generations on your wedding day. In many cases, the lack of care results in the yellowing of antique veils, reducing the beauty of what would otherwise be a striking fashion accessory. Tulle, illusion netting, and lace can be dry cleaned at home, but silk veils and those with satin trim or elaborate detailing should be taken to a professional dry cleaner.

Check out our post on How I can clean my wedding dress?

How Does One Go About Restoring a Wedding Gown?

Seek the advice of a professional before making any final decisions regarding your dress. Your buttons will need to be processed in a different system than the rest of your gown due to the rusting metal that will occur in the colour restoration solution (if at all). They must also remove any metal screws or bolts. Pearls may lose their lustre and become opaque if this technique is used. Sometimes the fibre goes with the stain when it is cleaned. Underarms are a likely area for this to happen because sweat weakens fabrics. For instance, a lace overskirt might shrink greater than the silk it conceals, or the lining of a dress might shrink than the outer fabric. A new hem may be necessary, but pressing the fabric can often fix minor snags and wrinkles.

When It’s All Done, What Can You Anticipate?

Silk is more difficult to work with than cotton or linen, and not all colour restorations are created equal. The general rule is that wrinkles are more difficult to remove from fabrics with a tighter weave. It is most challenging to press out a silk satin fabric smoothly; nett and lace fabrics are the easiest. However, there is the notable exception of silk illusion nett. While silk illusion veils were all the rage in the early 20th century, their time in the spotlight was brief. Older silk dummies today have a grainy texture and completely dissolve in water.

Finding a Reliable Cleaning Service

Do your homework on the dry cleaner before trusting her with your wedding gown. Heritage Garment Preservation recommends asking the cleaner if she will be cleaning the clothing herself and if she will be using virgin solvent. Virgin solvent is a term for a solvent that has not been used before.

Dress repair is difficult because it requires working with old, fragile textiles, such as those found in a bridal dress. However, if you take your time and follow the appropriate procedures, a used garment can be cleaned to look like new. Have you stumbled upon a beautiful, long-lost gown that you'd like to bring back to life? Explain it to us.

Conclusion

Fabric yellowing is a long-standing and pervasive problem in the textile industry. It means the invisible chemicals in the fabric have started to break down. Delicate fabrics will begin to yellow in as little as six months if not cleaned, cared for, and stored properly after the wedding. Spot "scorching," as the industry calls the gradual yellowing of fabric due to undetectable stains, can ruin your wedding dress. We suggest dry cleaning or hand washing your dress if you want to preserve the embellishments.

Bridal gown restoration is often complicated by broken laces, buttons, and satin fabrics. After being retouched, the dress' final colour might not be strictly ivory or off-white. Veils from the 1950s, or even earlier, are notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to clean without damaging the fabric. Silk veils and those with satin trim or elaborate detailing should be taken to a professional dry cleaner, but tulle, illusion netting, and lace can be dry cleaned at home. Repairing an old, delicate dress, like a wedding gown, is no easy task.

Used clothing can be restored to near-new condition with enough time and attention to detail. Wrinkles tend to stick around longer and be more noticeable on fabrics with a tighter weave.

Content Summary

  • If your wedding dress is not properly cleaned, cared for, and stored after the big day, the delicate textiles will start to yellow in as little as six months.
  • Keep in mind that the stains you can't see are the main causes of future spot staining and general fabric yellowing, even if your wedding dress looks nearly beautiful once the big day is done.
  • The fading of your wedding dress will accelerate if you keep it in a damp cellar, a hot attic or garage, or a location exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Spot "scorching" to your wedding dress is what the industry calls the gradual yellowing of the fabric brought on by undetectable stains.
  • TIf you look at the garment's care label, you can learn about the fabric and the recommended cleaning method.
  • Check the fabric composition if there is no care label.
  • If the stain is severe, have it dry cleaned by a professional.
  • To remove the stains, you can also use baking soda and vinegar.
  • If you want to wash your clothes, you shouldn't scrub them, just move them around in the water.
  • It's best to wash and dry the dress in the fresh air.
  • Buttons are a common source of frustration with vintage wedding dresses.
  • The upkeep of your vintage buttons may cost you extra.
  • Very old veils, like those from the 1950s, are extremely challenging, if not impossible, to clean properly.
  • If the hairpiece can be fixed, new tulle can be sown on top of the old.
  • All of the bust cups have been removed from the dresses in the museum's collection.
  • Styrofoam, a common ingredient in these bust cups, is bad for your health and your wedding dress.
  • We're returning the rented bust cups along with the bridal gown.
  • The Museum Method requires the wedding dress to be folded before shipping.
  • It's touching to wear a veil that has special meaning to you or that has been in your family for generations on your wedding day.
  • Tulle, illusion netting, and lace can be dry cleaned at home, but silk veils and those with satin trim or elaborate detailing should be taken to a professional dry cleaner.
  • Seek the advice of a professional before making any final decisions regarding your dress.
  • Your buttons will need to be processed in a different system than the rest of your gown due to the rusting metal that will occur in the colour restoration solution (if at all).
  • Do your homework on the dry cleaner before trusting her with your wedding gown.

FAQs About Wedding Dress Care

The while it is usually never too late to clean and preserve your wedding dress, the absolute best time to have your gown cleaned is the day after your wedding. The earlier you have your dress cleaned and preserved, the less of a chance stains will have to really set in.

Place the dress in an acid-free container and store it in an area that is safe from harsh light or temperatures (think under a bed). You should also add silica desiccant packets inside the box for humidity control. Alternatively, you can use an acid-free plastic garment bag to hang the dress in a cool, dry closet.

Dry cleaning a wedding gown should take somewhere from a few days to a month depending on how many layers are on your gown and how busy the dry cleaning shop is. If you're fortunate enough and the shop isn't busy, a fantastic dry cleaning for a wedding gown must take two to three days.

Professional dry cleaners will steam or press wedding dresses, but brides can also purchase a handheld steamer for their own use at home.

If your wedding dress is not properly cleaned, cared for, and stored after the big day, the delicate textiles will start to yellow in as little as six months.

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