Pack a wedding dress in acid-free tissue paper in an acid-free box. Plastic garment bags can cause discolouration over time and can attract dust and moisture through static build up.
Store the dress flat and pad folds with rolls of acid-free tissue paper to prevent sharp creases forming over time. If a dress is to be stored hanging in a wardrobe use padded hangers and a cotton cover.
Do not over pack a box with lots of items as they can squash the dress and make the box too heavy to move. Label the outside of the box so that future generations know the family history and what is inside the box. Check the box every so often to make sure that all is in good condition.
The older the item, the more vulnerable it is to damage. Despite appearing robust, textile fabrics can be weak and liable to splitting when wet. Careful handling is needed.
If a christening robe has an overall yellow colour or small brown spots are scattered over the surface, this is likely to be the result of the ageing process of the fibres especially if the robe is cotton. It could also be due to the contamination of materials used to store the robe. Cleaning may relieve some of this discolouration but it is unlikely to be removed completely. If the robe is stained, the longer the stain has been left in the fabrics, the more difficult it is to remove.
It is advisable to discuss options for cleaning with a textile conservator who will be able to give specific advice.
Two insects attack textile fibres - clothes moth and carpet beetle.
The main way to deal with insect attack is to prevent the damage occurring. Check stored and displayed textiles to see if there are signs of eggs (tiny black balls) and carefully vacuum or brush them away should any be found. If the sampler is framed, unless it is well sealed at the back of the frame insects can crawl through gaps and lay their eggs.
If damage has occurred, clean thoroughly to remove larvae, cases and eggs. For a precaution it is possible to freeze textile items in a domestic freezer to kill larvae but be cautious with framed samplers as glass might crack. For further advice contact a textile conservator.
These specialist companies will supply a wide range of materials including acid-free boxes and tissue paper.
Conservation by Design Limited
Timecare Works, 5 Singer Way
Woburn Road Industrial Estate
Kempston, Bedford MK42 7AW
Conservation Resources (U.K.), Limited
Unit 2, Ashville Way, off Watlington Road
Cowley, Oxford OX4 6TU
Preservation Equipment Limited
Shelfanger, Diss, Norfolk IP22 2DG
Howlett Way, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 1HZ
G Ryder and Co Ltd
Denbigh Road, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK1 1DG