Caring For a Flower Girl: 10 Things You Need To Know


Caring For a Flower Girl: 10 Things You Need To Know

The perfect flower girl dress can keep its look of perfection - before, during, and after the wedding. Indeed, the flower girl dress may have a life beyond the ceremony and reception. The gown can be worn in the near future on other special occasions. Sometimes the flower girl dress is even preserved as a souvenir or to be passed on to future generations.

Flower girl dresses can look perfect from purchase to preservation (for heirloom). They can look as fresh at the end of the wedding as at the beginning of the celebration. To take proper care of a flower girl dress, you only need to know a few simple facts.

1. Know Your Fabric

If a flower girl dress becomes stained, its fabric will determine the method of cleaning. Dry cleaning is required for dresses of pure silk (raw silk), acetate, and rayon. Gowns of taffeta, organza, satin, shantung, poly silk, tulle, or cotton with smocking can go through a process of handwashing in cold water. These dresses must also "hang to dry" and not be dried in a machine. Cotton, however, does fine with a tumble dry (low setting) following a cold water wash.

2. Know The Details

Intricate beading (pinned or glued), sparkling sequins, or decorative flowers will require extra care and attention. Detachable flowers, however, not only look pretty but are easy to remove for cleaning. A very gentle motion is always required when cleaning a dress with delicate details.

Anyone who undertakes ironing a flower girl dress - especially with elaborate detail - must do so only in accordance with the manufacturer's label - and then using extreme caution. The dress should be pressed only from the inside. Using a thick ironing board cover will allow the beads and/or sequins to press into its thickness.

Hand pressing nylon tulle is also a difficult procedure. You can press tulle at very low temperatures with a pressing cloth but you would need to practice extreme caution. Tulle is usually nylon and has a very low melting point. It may be wise to consider that experienced dry cleaners can steam dresses to perfection. They are also familiar with the best way to handle detailing when cleaning dresses.

3. Know The Stain

In order to achieve the best cleaning results, you must be able to identify the stain. Different stains need to be treated with varying methods. Certain stains will dry clear but will cause oxidation spots later if not completely removed from the fabric. Sugar(wine, soda), salt, and acidic-based stains will turn brown over time unless treated in an effective manner. Even normal dry cleaning won't remove these stains unless there is a pre-treatment process.

4. Know How To Spot Clean

Accidents can happen and often at the most inopportune times. If a flower girl dress gets a stain just before or during the wedding, spot cleaning provides a speedy solution. The cleaning method will, of course, depend on the stain.

One popular trick is to rub a bar of baby soap over the stain and place a towel under the stained fabric. Spritz a little water on the stained fabric so that the towel will absorb it on the other side.The stain should bleed through onto the towel.

Pure water and mild soap is the perfect answer to a small stain on a flower girl dress. Gently dab at a stain but don't rub vigorously and create an even larger spot. For stubborn stains, try Guards Cleaning Fluid. For extra stubborn spots, bring out Expert Ink Remover. To remove oily food stains, sprinkle baby powder liberally over the stain on the flower girl dress. Wait approximately ten minutes and then shake off the excess powder.

If you are pressed for time and simply can't remove a stain from a white dress, you can attempt to disguise it. Lightly sprinkle baby powder over the stain. Take a slightly damp cloth and pat over the baby powder but just to dampen the dress. This will help the powder to stick to the dress and cover the spot. More powder can be added if necessary to hide the stain.

5. Know How To Clean

The manufacturer's label will explain the correct cleaning method for a specific flower girl dress. If handwashing is recommended, then gentle action and a mild soap will give the best results. Rinsing is an important step as it removes all the soap from the fabric. Three rinses will leave behind a perfectly clean dress.

6. Know The Dry Cleaner

Choose an experienced dry cleaner to take care of a flower girl dress. Find a dry-cleaner who uses a pure solvent  - referred to as a "virgin" solvent - for cleaning flower girl dresses. Solvents are often recycled - especially because of expense. Impurities that are not filtered out of used solvent, however, can be redeposited onto garments. Garments cleaned in dirty solvent will have a dry clean smell.  Flower girl dresses should always be fresh without any undesirable smells. To remove any trace of smoke odors from dresses, air them in a thorough manner.

7. Know The Plan

Knowing how you intend to use the flower girl dress in the future will determine the storage method. If you want to keep the flower girl dress in pristine condition for many years then you must use proper preservation methods. Preservation specialists can handle this process. Many companies offering wedding dress preservation will also preserve flower girl dresses.

Preservation specialists either use "boxing" or "bagging" to keep dresses in perfect condition. Museums generally use "bagging" for preserving heirloom costumes and gowns. This method is an excellent option. Bagging protects a dress from dust and light, allows the best air circulation, and reduces the risk of permanent creases. A bagged gown is easy to inspect and the dress never requires any refolding.

Preservation bags can be purchased and "bagging" can be done at home. For preservation purposes, the bags - generally made of acid-free cotton (unbleached muslin) - shouldn't contain any chemicals which can transfer to the dress. The storage bags should not have zippers which can snag or rust and cause damage to the dress. Some bags have convenient pockets - one to hold cotton gloves for any handling of the dress and the other for wedding mementos. Flower girl dresses should always be stored on padded hangers.

Plastic bags should never be used for long term storage of flower girl dresses. Most plastics give off damaging fumes which can promote yellowing. Over time, however, silk will naturally yellow more than synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and acetate. The yellowing of silk is referred to as its "patina" and can even add to the appeal of a silk heirloom gown.

Nylon has a tendency to yellow more than other synthetic fabric. If a dress has been cleaned properly and yellowing is discovered in the early stages, preservation experts have a better chance of restoring the fabric to its original beauty. Preservation specialists can also refresh heirloom dresses and prepare them for immediate wear.

Preserving a flower girl dress in an acid-free environment is the best protection against yellowing. Padding the gown with acid-free tissue helps prevent acid migration. Acid-free tissue absorbs the acid which could harm a dress. Buffered tissue should be used for dresses made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and acetate. The buffering agents in the buffered tissue give added protection against acid migration. Un-buffered, acid-free tissue is recommended for silk as buffering agents can damage the fabric.

Preservation experts also provide "boxing" to save flower girl dresses for future generations. Some companies claim that TAPPI accelerated aging tests prove their boxes can prevent acid migration for up to 5 centuries! These boxes are sulfur-free and lignin-free throughout with a minimum pH of 8.5 and 3% calcium carbonate buffer. Always ask preservation specialists about their particular products, methods, and warranties.

Preservation boxes are available for purchase in various stores. These boxes, however, can vary significantly in quality. Many preservation boxes are just regular cardboard boxes with an acid-free coating. These coatings will not hold up as well as acid-free archival quality boxes.

8. Know The Enemy

Light, moisture, mildew, dust, dirt, insects, and even mice can pose threats to a flower girl dress. During long term storage, the fabric's sizing ( a starch-like substance added to fabric during manufacturing) can be attractive to insects and mice. Luckily, proper cleaning can remove this sizing.

If exposed constantly to sunlight or any other light source, white dresses will incur yellowing. Flower girl dresses should be in a breathable environment to protect them from mildew and mold growth. If moisture is allowed to condense in a storage space then the dress is at risk for damage. When a fabric can breathe, the humidity level remains constant around the garment and any excess moisture dissolves into the air.

9. Know The Temperature

Even preservation boxes and bags must be stored at a constant temperature. Flower girl dresses should never be stored in a hot attic or a damp basement. The gowns should never be stored in any room where there are extreme changes in temperature or humidity.

10. Know The Condition

Whether a flower girl dress is being worn at next month's special occasion or kept for future generations, you should periodically check its condition. If any spot hasn't been removed properly, oxidation spots can develop on the dress. Flower girl dresses in preservation bags and boxes should be checked every year. Preservation bags have windows for easy viewing at any time.

To help prevent permanent creasing, boxed gowns should be refolded yearly into a different position. Fabric can weaken when folded and permanent creases could develop in the dresses. The fabric could even tear at the weakened creases.To prevent such damage, dresses should be refolded on a regular basis. Cotton gloves should always be worn when handling preserved gowns.

The perfect flower girl dress impresses and delights the wedding guests. The dress can still be making a favorable impression at next month's occasion or even at a next century event! Today's perfection, tomorrow's preservation, it's all possible - when you know how to care for a flower girl dress.

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