How to preserve your child's christening gowns

A christening ceremony is a time of happiness for most families. Relatives from all over will come in to see the child presented in church, and to attend any festivities afterward. Many babies will have their pictures made in their christening gowns, and these often become cherished heirlooms. How to preserve these garments so they can be used some years in the future?

There are companies that specialize in cleaning and preserving heirloom textiles, like christening and wedding gowns. These companies will clean the garment, and will specially pack it so that it is in an ideal condition for long-term preservation. Depending on the garment, and how much cleaning is needed beforehand, it could cost someone $500 to have a garment professionally preserved.

The consumer also needs to check on the background of the preservation company to make certain they are reputable and do good work. Is there an easier way to do this? Can it be done at home? The answer to both questions is yes.

Mom will first need to clean the christening gown. This is especially important if baby spit up on it or food or formula was spilled on it. Most christening gowns are cotton or linen, but these should be professionally dry cleaned, with special attention paid to stain removal. Stains will set into the fabric as time goes on, and will become more and more difficult to remove.

Hobby stores or other shops that sell scrapbooking items will stock acid-free paper. If acid-free boxes are not available, they will probably know where these can be purchased. They are also available online, at Web sites specializing in the preservation of vintage clothing.

The gown should be wrapped either in acid-free paper, or in a clean white cotton sheet. It should then be placed in the acid-free box, using as few folds as possible. Folds can be padded with acid-free paper to prevent creases and thread breakage. The corners of the box should then be stuffed with acid-free paper, as well, and the box should be padded sufficiently that the gown will not move around.

Storage is also a major consideration for any heirloom garment. People often tend to store these boxes in attics or basements, which are the worst possible places. Basements are cold and damp. Attics are hot. Neither climate is ideal for storing a garment.

Most clothing preservation experts recommend that any heirloom garment be stored in a closet or other place in the main living areas of the home, where the climate is controlled year-round. The area should be free of mold or mildew and should have ample space so the garment can be stored flat, with nothing on top of it.

The garment can be inspected periodically, with the owner wearing white gloves, to prevent the transfer of oils and dirt to the garment. The gown should then be completely re-wrapped and boxed and replaced in its storage home.

The garment

With care and a little advance planning, a christening gown can be preserved as a family heirloom for many years.

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