We've got a style special for you today, Maharanis! Wanna know how to keep your lengha gorgeous before, during, and after your big day? Luckily, we sat down with Amrit Dhillon-Bains from Anais Event Planning & Design to get her expert tips! As a longtime professional at curating Indian goods, she is a master of all things authentic, including fabrics and textiles, and she knows all the insider secrets for keeping your bridal fashions as fabulous as your event. So, sit back with your mug of chai and enjoy this Platinum Guide feature! Happy reading, my lovelies!
MW: What is the best way to clean your bridal lengha after your wedding day?
ADB: It really depends on the damage/stain and the fabric your garment is made out of. Depending on the fabric and embellishments, you could wash it in a washer, get it commercially cleaned, or go old school with some elbow grease and wash it yourself. If the lengha is simple and the fabric can take it, you can put it in a duvet and run it through your washer on a gentle cycle. However, with beading and crystals found on the average wedding lengha, you can't run the risk of washing with machine or commercial cleaner (the harsh chemicals can melt the beading!). It is best to only spot clean with a stain pen (Dryel) or gently scrub away with a toothbrush using warm water and baby wash or soap. If the item appears fragile, avoid cleaning unless done by a textile conservator.
MW: What is the best way to store your bridal lengha to keep to wear again in a few years? Is storage different if you want to keep it as a treasure to pass on to your daughter?
ADB: We recommend "archival quality" garment boxes for preserving your bridal lengha. These acid-free boxes are solid and secure to resist any long-term impact from dust, dirt, and light. Some brands now offer boxes with acid-free tissue (Crate & Barrel).
MW: What fabrics are best for long-term storage?
ADB: Always use ONLY non-buffered, acid-free, and lignin-free tissue, unbleached muslin, or 100% white cotton sheets to pad or cover stored fabrics.
MW: Any tips on folding?
ADB: Ideally, you should store textiles flat with as few folds as possible. However, if you must fold due to space limitations, make sure you pad all folds with rolled non-buffered acid- and lignin-free tissue paper. Fibers tend to break on fold lines or creases so add padding to these areas. You must also go back and refold it early to help prolong the integrity of the fabric.
MW: Is it better to hang or fold the lengha for storage?
ADB: Flat storage is always recommended. If an item must be stored on a hanger, cover the hanger with polyester batting encased in washed/unbleached muslin. Get cotton tape suspenders to attach the lengha bottom to the hanger and relieve hanger stress. Then cover the whole thing with a loose-fitting bag made of unbleached muslin to protect from the elements. Experts recommend against the use of metal, satin, or foam-covered hangers because of their inadequate support and high risk of degradation over time (increasing the possibility of their own stain damage to the fabric).
MW: What should you do to make sure your lengha looks its best before the wedding?
ADB: 1. Follow the designer or manufacturer’s recommended method of storage. 2. Resist the urge to show it to everyone before the wedding. Call me old school, but some things are best kept a secret for the big reveal on the day itself! 3. Entirely optional, but it doesn’t hurt to give the garment a steam to make it look its freshest before the ceremony!
MW: Is it safe to steam my lengha?
ADB: Yes. In fact, I recommend Martha Stewart’s formula of creating your own steam room. Cover a bathroom floor with towels and run a very hot shower (filling the room with steam). Turn the water off, and then hang the lengha/sari on the back of the bathroom door. Next, wrap your arm in a dry, clean towel and run it down the length of the garment to smooth out any wrinkles. This method is less likely to leave water spots or iron impressions than a home steamer or iron.
MW: How do you transport your lengha on your wedding day?
ADB: Store it flat in muslin until you are ready to wear it.
MW: What if my lengha has a stain on it? Any tips for removing them before the wedding?
ADB: Spot clean if you must. Otherwise, depending on how big it is and where it is, you can add embellishments to cover the area or simply style your dupatta cleverly to hide the stain.
Other notes on from Amrit Dhillon-Bains on preserving your treasured wedding outfits:
· No storage method is perfect and guaranteed. The very composition of the fabric of the item sometimes may prevent its ideal preservation if processed with chemicals, etc.
· Zippers may rust and metal buttons leave rust stains. If possible, remove these and store them separately in polyethylene zip-lock bags.
· Airtight containers are a bad idea for storage because a sealed box/bag creates its own atmospheric damage.
· Maintain temperature and humidity control. Attics and basements are poor choices because fluctuating humidity/temperature will cause the fabric to expand and contract introducing wear and breakage, especially at folds and creases.
· Avoid direct light exposure as damage from it can occur quickly and is usually irreversible.
· Plan an annual "dress up" party with your friends! Pull out your lengha and examine it yearly!
Such a bounty of bridal knowledge! Thank you, Amrit of Anais Event Planning & Design for sharing your insider tips with us! Come back tomorrow, Maharanis, for a whole new day of wedding fun!