It Thrills the Curator in Me…

Amy Friendtextile conservation2 Comments

I have been intending to work on this project for so long but keep putting it off because, quite frankly, it isn’t all that fun. It was, however, really important to me. As I mentioned in my profile, before staying home with the kids, I was a museum collections curator for about 8 years. In that time I learned a lot about the preservation and conservation of various kinds of artifacts. I also needed to preserve objects in the collection on a budget. Working with textile collections was very rewarding because I could make a big difference with very little money.
Often, textile end up folded in plastic or cardboard boxes or hung on metal hangers in dry cleaning bags. Both are just awful in the long run. The plastic and cardboard cause the textiles to discolor over time. Folding and thin metal hangers cause the textiles to crease somewhat permanently and don’t provide adequate support.
I want to make sure that the special dresses that I make for my daughter and the costumes that I make for the kids last so that they can be worn by my grandchildren (should they want them). The other day, when reorganizing the newly renovated hall closets, I opened the dry cleaners bag that had my First Communion dress (with removable pinafore to become an Easter dress) that my Mom had made in 1982. Can you see how yellowed the white dotted swiss had become?

I got to work right away. I covered the top and corners of my hangers with polyester batting, attached with loose, quick stitches. Then I cut covers to fit the hangers out of prewashed, unbleached muslin.

Then I hung the garments on the hangers and made quick bags out of the same muslin, to protect the garments from light and dust.
It really didn’t take all that long. To save time and effort, I stored two garments per bag. I also made use of the selvages whenever possible. I am guessing that some of you are shaking your heads at me right now, but now I can rest easy 🙂