A 1950s Wedding Dress Story

When a friend asked me to look at a vintage wedding dress from the 1950s, I confess I was dubious. She’d agreed to alter it for another friend of ours but it was soiled from storage inside a plastic garment bag. (so, no plastic, please. it off-gasses and discolors the fabric it is supposed to protect.)

I imagined a heavy satin number or a crinkled polyester with a train. Was I ever wrong! It was a tea length embroidered eyelet cotton and it was really charming. It had discolored from storage and the shoulders were spotted with rust. After confirming that it would be okay if I accidentally ruined it, I offered to launder it for our friend. I was hoping to salvage it but could not predict the outcome. Sometimes items do not survive being soaked and sometimes they don’t survive being ironed!

I rue the fact that I didn’t snap a photo of it before I plopped it into the bathtub.

Just after I started soaking the dress.

At this point, I was convinced that the dress would turn out to be ivory instead of white. After 3 or 4 hours, the shoulders still had rust spots so I drained the tub and started over. The second soaking performed a miraculous feat: all stains disappeared. Even better, the dress emerged intact and strong. Drip drip dry from the showerhead; then it spent a few hours hanging from a hanger in the windy April sunshine. I ironed the cheesecloth underskirt, the acetate skirt and the outer cotton layer separately; it’s beautiful.

The outcome of the dress; fit for the sugarplum fairy or for my friend's wedding!!

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2 Responses to “A 1950s Wedding Dress Story”

  1. J Desaussure Says:

    Beautiful results. What did you soak the dress in and how long did it soak the first and second time??

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