Antique and vintage textiles are a source of fascination and inspiration for many, but often these artifacts are tucked away in large museums, safe from the damages of light, humidity, insects, and touch–or at least as safe as the art and science of textile conservation can make them. Fortunately for the textile enthusiast, in this age of the internet, many museum collections are at least partially available for viewing online, as well as in books and on exhibit. But for all that many fine examples of antique textile art reside in large, institutional museums far from the curiosity of most of us, there are also many, many pieces of the fiber past in the collections of small and far more accessible museums, and in the hands–so to speak–of individual collectors.

But textiles are delicate things, and to maintain a healthy collection of textiles is a challenge, particularly for a small museum or individual collector who is not a trained expert in the small and rather insular field of professional textile conservation. There are many questions at hand, and it can be difficult to find answers. How does one repair antique textiles? Should one repair antique textiles? How does one clean antique textiles? How best should they be stored? How best should they be stored–in limited space and on a limited budget? How does one keep track of a stored collection? How does one go about reproducing a historic textile? When is it time to call in an expert to tend to a special piece? When is it safe to wear or use an antique textile? How should antique textiles be displayed on exhibit? How is it possible to tell what a particular garment or piece is made of? How can one tell when or where or how an antique textile was made?

Perhaps the central question is: How can a small-scale collection of antique textiles be best preserved, within the confines of practicality, while still offering opportunities for people to learn from and enjoy them?

These are the questions that this site aims to answer, for the small museum or individual collector, in possession of vintage or antique textiles in need of care, but without extensive resources for or training in the care of them.

As a college student studying public history and the applied history of costume and needle arts, I make no claims to expertise in the area of textile conservation, but I am an experienced researcher, and I have much relevant content knowledge. Therefore, rather than claiming to be a be-all and end-all source on textile conservation, this site has been created with the aim of being a “meta-resource,” which offers links to reviewed sites, and lists of reviewed books, as well as articles summarizing widely recognized procedures and approaches to small-scale textile conservation. There is information out there, but it can be difficult to find and difficult to sort through, so I am doing the finding and the sorting in the hopes of making basic textile conservation a little bit simpler and a little bit easier for those who want to take care of their textiles but don’t have extensive resources.

This website/blog is my final project for a college course in historic preservation, but it is my hope that it will prove functionally useful beyond the confines of academia, and it is my intention to continue updating the site long after the semester is over. Taking Care of Textiles is a WordPress blog, set up to function primarily like a website, with most of the content written as pages rather than as blog posts. The main pages are available as links on the side bar, and all pages are listed here and in the standalone Index. Blog posts will be used primarily to communicate updates to the site.

If you have questions, remarks, or suggestions, please feel free to comment on pages or entries, and I will endeavor to respond as soon as possible.

Index:

Books on Textile Conservation – read this first for a primer on sources of conservation information
See also:

Textile Conservation Basics – these are brief overviews of good practice, gleaned from a variety of sources

Online Resources – these are helpful sources of textile conservation information elsewhere on the internet

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