It was a lovely sight yards of ribbon, satin and lace adorned with sequins and pearls, and all surrounded by fresh flowers and smiling faces.

I'm talking about the Wedding Dress Show at the Senior Center last Thursday where gowns from the 1920s to the present were brought out of storage for a special fashion revue. (I even was asked to model the suit from my September wedding as the newest bride in the show!)

It was wonderful to see the beautiful dresses in such good condition after so many years.

Since June is a popular month for weddings, this is a great time to talk about how to make that dress last a lifetime.

If you want to preserve a wedding gown for later years, don't just leave it hanging in the closet uncleaned and unprotected. Here are a few suggestions to follow that are appropriate for a wedding gown or any other fine garment you would like to preserve.

It is essential to have your gown completely cleaned before storage. Perspiration, food or beverage stains on the gown that are invisible now will become visible during storage. Don't be unhappily surprised years from now by permanent yellow or brown stains that cannot be removed. Also, stains may attract insects that could damage the fabric. Clean it now and play it safe.

Do not store your gown in the basement. Dampness can cause mildew. The attic is not recommended either: it is too hot in the summer.

Protect your gown from light to avoid fading or discoloration. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place such as in a closet, under a bed or in a storage chest.

Don't store your gown in a plastic wrap or bag especially sealed ones since air must circulate around the fabric. Plastic can deteriorate and the resulting chemical fumes may damage the cloth.

Because of the acid found in wood products, clothes should not be wrapped in newspaper or tissue paper (even blue) for long-term storage. The dye in blue tissue could be transferred to the fabric. If necessary, white tissue could be used if you change it every year.

If you want to store in cardboard boxes or cedar chests, be sure to line the box with clean muslin or white tissue paper, or wrap the clothing so that no fabric touches the wood or cardboard.

Don't wait 20 years to look at the gown again. By then, stains may be permanent, insect, mold and mildew damage may be irreversible and folds may have become permanent.

Take your dress out of storage each year, carefully opening and handling it. After inspection, take time to carefully repack the gown.

Change the position of the folds, replace all the tissue paper and wash any cotton fabric used in lining the box.

To ensure that you remember to do a yearly inspection, use your wedding anniversary as the date each year to examine your gown.

Handling your wedding gown on your anniversary will bring back many memories of your special day, besides ensuring that the garment receives annual attention.

For more detailed information, contact the Extension Office at 501 S. Ninth St., 272-3670, to request a copy of the Extension publication "Cleaning and Storing Your Wedding Gown." This free publication contains step-by-step information on cleaning methods and storage techniques to preserve a wedding gown.

If you follow these guidelines, your beautiful wedding gown should still be just as pretty many years from now, and ready for the next wedding fashion show.

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