In reponse to today’s post on Adelaide’s white chasuble,

“What can you do if you already dry-cleaned the vestment? Is it ruined for life? Also my fabric is more of a brocade or satin type would you use the same procedure to clean it?” YOYA

satins (usually used for linings)

100% silk damask weave (read all about it )http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damask 

Brocade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocade)

Good question.  Yes, it is entirely possible to “set” a stain such as an oil-based neckline stain by having the vestment dry-cleaned.  We are blessed in this state to have expert restoration and cleaning services by people trained in conservation at the University of Rhode Island. I call for advice if I am stumped.  If you have the slightest doubt- check with someone who KNOWS what to do. It takes seconds to ruin a textile, maybe permanently.  If your vestment is really in a bad state, the university (Quinn Hall, see the link on this site or click here http://www.uri.edu/hss/tmd/Test.htm) has experts who will be able to restore and refresh just about anything. I have seen the work done in the lab, and it is amazing what the right resource for your problem can do.  If you ever stop by Saint Peter’s -by-the -Sea (and you should!), check out the fantastic vintage chasuble restored by U.R.I. which is in a showcase near the narthex. Amazing- you should have seen what they had to start with! You can call for an appointment to bring in your vestment for a consultation and estimate of cost for work which will restore or refresh the garment.  In some cases, you may just have to live with some stains which may never entirely disappear.  Others can be made much less visible. Another very helpful link to read is this one http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=634

Prevention is more than half the battle.  Proper storage and practices which will reduce soiling and abrasion, insect infestation, proper ventilation, ideal humidity and temperature control, cleaning and handling procedures, etc. will go a long way toward extending the life of expensive vestments and antependia- and need not cost the earth to carry out in your little sacristy.

The way to attack stains before racing off to the dry cleaner is to know what your garment is composed of- this is KEY.  There are problems and issues specific to various fiber types, animal proteins like wool or silk, plant fibers like linen or cotton and synthetics.  It is also helpful to know the vestment house, and if possible, when the vestment was constructed which may give a clue about fiber content and where to go to start pinning down answers.  If it is a memorial vestment, there may be a record of the donation in the office.  If you have this information, a call to the vestment house which constructed your garment can often give you helpful hints on the fiber you are dealing with and how best to clean it.  Try to keep the neckline tags inside the vestment or parament hem on the textile.   Frontals often have dates embroidered on the lining if the set was a memorial. Of course we ALL have things in our closets which have lost all of this valuable information, and we are CLUELESS what the fiber content is. Altar guild secretaries, or sacristans might consider keeping this sort of information documented when new items are ordered, along with the inventory which ALL sacristies should have. Copies of invoices, packing lists, or correspondence when the vestment order is filled can be copied to keep in Altar Guild records.  New members will be coming to the guild in the future and any information on sacristy contents, textile or metalware or other material can be vitally important.

You need to know if you have an oil or water-based stain, or a combination of both.  Wet-cleaning has its hazards- watermarks, or “tide” marks may be left when using water or detergent solutions.

Finally, vestments usually have more than one type of fiber involved in one garment, maybe a satin lining  under silk damask, maybe rayon, cotton, “polyester, vicose, or blends. Trims are loaded with metallic threads, silk embroidery. etc.  I would certainly seek out a reputable dry cleaner for silk, silk damask, and satins  if the vestment is heavily soiled, or a conservation resource such as found at the university or a museum.  Wet-cleaning is not for amateurs and it can weaken some fibers (as I have sadly learned over the years- yes, I have ruined a few things on the way to gaining knowledge!) 🙂 If you would like to send some photos of your damask chasuble, it would be very valuable to see the stains and the vestment.