Preservation Storage for Textiles

General preservation guidelines outlined in this video

General Textiles Housing

  1. Only archival (chemically safe) materials, such as acid free tissues, folders, boxes, etc., should be used for housings. If you are unsure about the composition of materials consult a conservator.
  2. Avoid stacking and overcrowding textiles as this can cause physical damage such as chafing, crushing, or tearing and can also cause chemical damage like the transfer of dyes.
  3. In cases where storage environments cannot meet proper requirements, housings should be provided that create the desired microclimate.
  4. Textiles should be evaluated individually in order to create a housing that meets each item’s unique needs.
  5. Housings should never be placed directly on the floor of storage. Ethafoam blocks or other inert risers may be used to raise floor level housings.
  6. When an item is made of mixed media, the housing should strive to meet the needs of the most fragile medium present.
  7. Where housings are impractical or where budget is limited, textiles may be covered with a Tyvek or muslin dust cover.
  8. Textiles may be stored rolled, boxed, or flat. Analysis of textiles will determine which option is appropriate

Flat Textiles

  1. When analyzing flat textiles, consider whether they are a single layer, such as tablecloths; sandwiched, such as quilts; or highly ornate, such as feather capes.
  2. Guidelines for Rolled Storage of Flat Textiles:
    1. Rolled storage is ideal for sturdy, single layer, flat textiles and is acceptable for some sturdy, sandwiched, flat textiles.
    2. Rolled storage should not be used to store leather, highly ornate textiles, or grass weavings because the act of rolling could damage the artifact.
    3. An acid free tube with a minimum diameter of three inches should be used to roll textiles. A larger diameter tube should be used when rolling heavier, sandwiched, or pile (velvets, rugs, textiles).
    4. In general practice, the larger the diameter of the tube the better protected the textile will be.
    5. To begin the process of rolling, textiles should be laid out flat, face down, on a clean surface. Care should be taken to keep the edges as even as possible.
    6. When textiles have fringe, the fringe should be sandwiched between acid-free tissue and rolled onto the tube, not left hanging off the edges.
    7. While rolling, the textile should be kept flat. Wrinkles or creases in rolled textiles will cause damage in the future.
    8. Fabric with a pile should be rolled in the direction of the pile.
    9. Rolled textile tubes should be stored horizontally with enough space to prevent the tubes from resting on each other.
  3. Guidelines for Boxed Storage of Flat Textiles:
    1. Flat textiles that are too fragile or thick to be rolled are candidates for boxed storage.
    2. The box should be acid-free and lined in acid-free tissue paper.
    3. If the textile must be folded to fit in the box, each fold should be padded out with crumpled acid-free tissue, or a tube made from a polyester fiber-fill and cotton stockinet.
    4. Avoid folding on previous fold lines as this can reinforce creasing.
    5. Highly ornate, or grass woven textiles should only be boxed if the box is large enough to prevent folding.
    6. Different layers of the textile should be interlaced with acid free tissue, especially if there is metallic thread or fugitive dye present.
    7. Avoid placing too many or too heavy textiles in the same box as this can cause damage to the textiles on the bottom.
    8. For the same reason it is recommended that boxes not be stacked on top of each other.
  4. Guidelines for Flat Storage:
    1. Flat textile storage should be utilized for grass weavings (such as grass mats), highly ornate items, or very fragile textiles.
    2. A sturdy, acid-free board, such as museum board, foam-core, or choraplast, should be cut at least one inch larger than the textile.
    3. The textile should be placed flat on the board. Any wrinkles should be smoothed out.
    4. A layer of cheesecloth, tyvek, or muslin should be cut to the same size as the board, and stitched down with a long running stitch (about 1 inch long stitches).
      1. Do not pierce the artifact, only the covering fabric.
      2. If the artifact is large and will slide on the board, a conservator should attach a support fabric with a border onto the artifact.
      3. The support fabric border can then be stitched to the support board with the cover fabric.
    5. The number of flat textile storage boards that can be stacked on top of each other should be restricted to prevent crushing weights.

Three-Dimensional Textiles

  1. Costumes are the most common types of three dimensional textiles.
  2. Three Dimensional Textiles may be hung or boxed.
  3. Guidelines for Storage on Hangers:
    1. Hanging storage is appropriate for stable costumes, with strong construction and in good repair.
    2. The shoulders should be evaluated before hanging. Only costumes with sturdy shoulder seams (not strapless, spaghetti straps, or delicate fabric) should be hung.
    3. Hanging storage is not appropriate for costumes with heavy fabrics, embellishments, or beading. Hanging is also inappropriate for bias-cut fabrics and weighted silks.
    4. Padded hangers should be used for costumes where hanging storage is appropriate.
      1. A padded hanger should match the slope of the shoulder seam and be covered with polyester batting that is wrapped in cotton muslin or stockinet.
      2. The width of the hanger should also match the width of the costume shoulder.
      3. Skirts, pants, and dresses in need of extra support due to weight should have twill tape stitched to their waistbands and looped up over the hanger for extra support.
      4. Dresses with trains should have extra support for the trains. A length of archival tubing can be suspended from a second hanger for the train to be draped over.
      5. Sleeves or other “puffed” areas should be stuffed with soft batting (not wool) or acid-free tissue paper in order to maintain shape.
  4. Guidelines for Boxed Storage of Three-dimensional Textiles:
    1. Three dimensional boxed storage should follow the same guidelines as Flat Textile Box Storage with some extra considerations:
    2. Areas of fullness (sleeves, skirts, etc.) should be padded out with soft acid-free tissue or polyester fiberfill in order to maintain shape and prevent creasing.
    3. Whenever possible, store only one artifact per box.
    4. When placing multiple items in one box, evaluate carefully to prevent crushing weights, especially when items are stacked on top of each other.
    5. Ribbons, laces, and other elongated ties should be rolled around a wad of batting for safer, tidier storage.

Accessories

  1. Accessories can be flat or three dimensional and include such items as shoes, moccasins, stockings, hats, and neckwear.
  2. Accessories should be stored in boxes.
  3. Flat accessories can be stacked in a box as long as they are interlaced with acid-free tissue and the cumulative weight does not crush the items on the bottom.
  4. Three dimensional accessories should be lightly stuffed with acid-free tissue or polyester batting and placed in single layers in appropriately sized acid-free boxes.
  5. Ribbons, laces, and other elongated ties should be rolled around a wad of batting for safer, tidier storage.

III. Storage Mounts and Placement

  1. When textiles are placed in housings, in storage, on tables, etc., they should be placed such that they are appropriately supported.
  2. If proper housing is used for textiles, additional storage mounts may be unnecessary.
  3. Below are some examples of instances when additional storage mounts would be desirable.
    1. Textiles that are structurally weak. A custom mount made would support weak areas and prevent further mechanical or gravitational damage.
    2. Textiles that are susceptible to damage from their own weight. A custom mount would prevent future gravitational damage.
    3. Textiles that will be housed with other items. Supports that safely hold items at different angles may allow more items to fit in one box without causing damage.

For more videos like this, go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Church History page.

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