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Learn more about Wedding Gown Restoration
Learn more about Vintage Lace Restoration
What is Wet Cleaning
Care of Leather Goods

Care of Vintage Heirlooms in Costume and Fashion

Care and Restoration

Vintage fashions, often found in an attic in a cardboard box or plastic bag, may suffer insect damage, discoloration, fading, and pollution of soil and stains. Articles stored in a trunk or wooden box are affected by acid reaction which weakens or damages a fabric. However, it may be possible to clean, restore, and preserve the clothing if done correctly.

Cotton (fabric) and cotton blends are relatively easy to clean, using a wet cleaning method. Satin, velvet, silk and woolen fabric may be more difficult to handle. Some garments can be dry cleaned with an owner’s signed waiver to protect the cleaning establishment. A professional textile specialist, a museum curator, or a historical society staff member should be consulted for appropriate cleaning and restoration techniques, especially if the item has monetary or sentimental value.

Review the article on “Wet Cleaning” under “TIPS” to proceed with home wet cleaning process.

To store a vintage fashion it should be surrounded in an acid-free environment. Avoid folds or creases in an item by layering clean muslin or acid-free paper between fabric layers. The article should be placed in an acid-free box for storage.

If necessary, to hang a costume, a fabric covered and padded hangar should be used. A support ribbon or tape should be attached inside the armhole or wide seams of the garment to reduce weight stress on shoulder seams and neck areas. A heavy garment would require additional tape holdings at the waistline and tied to hanger top to secure the item.

Any stored costume should be starch free as chemical reaction to the fiber will cause discoloration, fading, and possible insect infestation.


Perspiration stains on cotton can be removed by spotting with white vinegar, prior to washing.

A washable vintage fashion should be hand laundered only, rinsed, and rolled in a large towel for moisture absorption, and pressed while damp.

A large item requiring washing machine launder should be place in a large mesh laundry bag to protect it from the agitator. It is suggested that a front load machine be used whenever possible.

Rust stains can be removed on washable fabrics with a paste of lemon juice and salt rubbed on the stain and left for several hours. Not necessary to place in the sun, as told by a grandmother.

Stain removers, on the open market, can be used with caution. Always read instructions and spot check a garment by trying the product on a hidden seam. Some commercial stain removers may affect fabric dye.

Rips or small tears should be mended with same color and thread type as the original fabric to disguise the damage.

For specific instructions to remove stains, restore or preserve a fashion, contact Evelyn S. Kennedy at 860-464-2001 or by e-mail

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