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Textiles

Antique textiles require special care and protection because as fibres age they gradually decompose and become easily susceptible to damage from handling, high humidity, fungus and mould, insects, pollution and other forms of chemical attack.

Cleaning

- Do not wash or use commercially available cleaning products.

- To remove general dirt and signs of insect infestation cover with a microfilament net and lightly Hoover (lowest setting taking particular care not to remove any fibres).

- To remove stains, fungus or mould consult a suitably qualified textile conservator.

Repair

- Should only be undertaken by a suitably qualified textile conservator.

Display

- Costume is best displayed on dummies but placed well away from any potential contact damage.

- Also protect from potential atmospheric pollution and high humidity (for valuable items it is best to store behind glass).

- Flat textiles can be framed but protect from direct sunlight which can fade fabric.

- Protect using ultraviolet resistant glass and also ensure that all framing materials are acid free. 

Handling

- First establish how fragile the textile is and whether there are any areas that are notably more fragile than others. Holding by one corner, for example, may crease or tear the textile in a totally different area depending on overall weight distribution.

- Remove any jewellery likely to cut or tear; then wear white cotton gloves and hold with two hands taking care not to put excessive strain on any one section.

- If the textile is flat, place on a piece of cardboard to carry.

- Antique dresses or costume can be hung and if this is the case also use the hanger to carry them. Alternatively cradle an item across both arms to carry (preferably protected by a white sheet to avoid any potential staining).

Storage

- Antique costume (if not too heavy) can be stored on hangers but only use acid free hangers (not wire or unsealed wood).

- Hangers should be well padded with polyester then wrapped in white cotton, be sturdy, be of the correct shoulder length and closely follow the shoulder shape of any item (i.e., it must be a good fit).

- All hung costume should also be covered with a white cotton "jacket" and hung with sufficient space to avoid any likely hood of "crushing".

- Flat textiles should be stored rolled against generally large diameter (5 - 10cm) acid free tubes and then covered in acid free tissue.

- If you have to fold a flat textile, use as few folds as possible to avoid the potential of splits. Also soften the fold by padding with acid free tissue.

- Store folded textiles in acid free boxes lined with tissue. Do not overfill boxes.

The Trusted Experts on the site will advice you about restoration and many other matters related to what we hope will be a very enjoyable and at times profitably hobby and past time.

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