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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Caring for a Hero's Legacy: Military Uniform Preservation Tips

Connecting to your history is an experience worth preserving.  Many important events in our ancestors’ lives had outfits to match.  Here we’ll share some advice to help you keep them in shape.  Properly caring for and preserving your loved one’s military uniform, whether they served on the Western front in WWI or more current conflicts in the Middle East, will honor their legacy of heroism for generations to come.

When dealing with fragile fabrics, it is important to remember you should not do anything you can’t undo.  You should wear white gloves when handling these articles, because even the oils from your fingers can cause deterioration of the fibers.  Remember that fabric is sensitive to light and humidity.  While it is important for uniforms to be stored as clean as possible, attempting to clean them is only something a certified preservationist should take on.

“Working to restore vintage military uniforms and other family heirlooms has been one of the greatest honors I have had as a professional preservationist over my 40 year career,” says David King, Garment Preservationist for Shores Fine Dry Cleaning in High Point, NC.  When it comes to meaningful and rare items, such as military uniforms or flags, you can trust that Shores Fine Dry Cleaning can safely clean and preserve them for a lifetime.  You will be glad to know that we rely on our extensive knowledge of antique garment and vintage fabric restoration, and apply the same techniques and preservation materials recommended by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., to extend the life of these special pieces of history.  As with any of our preservations, you always have the opportunity to view your treasured piece before it is boxed, ensuring your happiness with the result of our actions taken towards its restoration.

Restoration and preservation of military uniforms can range in price from $150-$250.  When you are researching companies to handle your heirloom, beware of those that require you to sign a release or disclaimer.  Also, it should be a red flag if they are not familiar with fabric restoration processes, or if they don’t allow you access to inspect your pieces after the restoration, prior to boxing.  If you are unable to have your uniform professionally preserved by a restoration specialist now, there are ways to prolong its life until you are able to have it professionally restored.  “I would first recommend removing the uniform from its hanger, and wrapping it in pre-washed, unbleached muslin cloth, or in a 100% cotton sheet—no tissue, no boxes.  The uniform should be placed out of the light in a climate-controlled environment, such as a bedroom closet,” says Brian Harrell, Garment Restoration Specialist for Shores Fine Dry Cleaning in Winston-Salem, NC.  He adds, “It also isn’t a bad idea to keep this and other important heirlooms near each other in order to quickly remove them in the case of an emergency, like a fire.”

In the coming months, we will feature some of the uniforms that we have had the opportunity to restore and preserve, and the men that wore them, in a series titled Real Hero’s Spotlight.  Stay tuned for some grand adventures.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wedding Dress Care and Preservation

You invested a lot of time looking for and a lot of money in that perfect wedding dress.  Now that it is in your care, there are a few things you need to know.

Before the big day:
  • Hang your wedding dress by the loops inside the gown, which are connected to sturdy side seams.  Never hang it by the fragile shoulder seams, which could stretch or sag.
  • Order Shores Perfect Day Emergency Care Kit, which includes pins, needles and thread, solvent, scissors, buttons, and blotting towel.
  • Make sure there is a care label in your wedding gown.
  • Know your gown’s fabric in case of a spill.  A spill on an artificial fiber is much easier to remove than a spill on a natural fiber such as silk.

During the big day:
  • Keep safety pens on hand so that you are prepared for a broken bustle loop, torn strap, or broken zipper.  Full-service bridal salons often put several safety pins into the underside of your gown for just such incidents.
  • In case of a spill, Shores recommends that unless it is large and noticeable, that you leave it alone.  If you must try and remove a spill, here are some tips.  On a synthetic gown, if the stain is water soluble (such as coffee, mud, blood, tea), dab the spot gently with cool water and let air dry.  Do not rub it.  Rubbing hard will damage the finish of your gown.  Silk and rayon gowns are water-sensitive and you could leave permanent water spots.  We suggest you camouflage spots with something white and harmless such as baking soda, cornstarch, or baby powder.  If the stain is oil based (such as grease, lipstick, makeup), then we recommend leaving these alone until you can get professional help.

After the big day:
  • Do have your wedding dress cleaned and preserved as soon as possible after the ceremony.
  • Never store your wedding dress in plastic bags or vacuum-sealed, plastic wrapped containers.  Plastic emits fumes that can yellow your gown, and it can trap moisture that leads to mildew.
  • Choose a wedding gown specialist that will guarantee and personally process your gown.  Never entrust your gown to someone that sends it away to be cleaned.
  • Ask the specialist what precautions they take to protect delicate trims and decorations on your gown and how the cleaner guards against latent stains.
  • Inspect your gown personally before it is put into the preservation container.  The container should be a completely acid-free, museum-quality, archival wedding chest lined with fabric or acid-free tissue paper.
  • Don’t store your gown in an attic or basement where there are extreme changes in temperature and humidity.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What to Wear to a Spring Wedding

Spring seems to be wedding season, with the two most popular months in which to wed – June followed by May.  In January, we posted a blog entitled “What to wear to a winter wedding”.  In it we outlined how you might decipher a wedding invitation if a dress code isn’t specified.  Since we are quickly approaching the spring wedding season, we thought it might be appropriate to visit this topic again for warmer weather suggestions.

If the invitation suggests casual dress, we don’t recommend shorts and flip flops.  A fun sundress or slacks and a top will do nicely.

Semi-formal weddings call for a cocktail dress for evening weddings and a nice dress or suit for daytime weddings.

A black-tie-optional spring wedding would call for a dress a bit more than a cocktail dress but not to the point of an evening gown.  If you choose a short dress, you could go for a more elaborate style.  If you go floor length, keep it simple.

Black tie weddings mean long dresses, typically in darker colors.  Here’s a good guide -- your spouse or date will be in a tuxedo, so choose something that will flatter it.

If the invitation doesn’t include a dress code, you can do what we recommended in our last post – investigate the venue, check for a theme, and take a look at the time of day.  But if you still can’t figure it out then your best bet with a spring wedding is to go with a simple cocktail dress for evening weddings and a nice dress or suit for a daytime wedding.  That’s taking the middle of the road, and sometimes that is your safest bet.  Oh, if you need any clothing or gown alterations for the wedding, swing by one of our Shores Cleaners locations.