Whether putting away one season’s set of clothes or storing a wedding dress, tidying away winter quilts or keeping a spare set of curtains for a rainy day, it is worth storing textiles properly to avoid decay:

  1. Never leave fabric folded in a sealed cardboard or plastic box for years.
  2. Never pack away a soiled garment (sweat, perfume and alcohol darkens over time if not removed before storing).
  3. Layer quilts between clean cotton sheets and fold the trio accordion-style. Preferably place textiles on a shelf or in a drawer (lined with acid-free tissue paper) so they can breathe easily; if using a box or cedar chest, line them first with acid-free tissue paper to prevent direct contact with the cardboard’s chemicals or wood’s oils.
  4. For folding clothing, lay the hem down first and then fold the dress accordion-style, placing crumpled acid-free tissue paper between each fold. Stuff the inside of bodices and sleeves with crumpled tissue to prevent creases which lead to the breakdown of the fabric’s fibres.
  5. If hanging garments, wrap a wide hanger with cotton batting and cover with muslin or a similar breathable fabric. Then stuff bodices, sleeves and any deep folds in the fabric with acid-free tissue. Cover the dress with another layer of muslin and hang, uncrushed, in a cool, dry place away from direct light.
  6. Check the condition of stored textiles – if boxed, repack so the folds are in different places; if hung, wash the muslin covers. Air out quilts and tapestries once a year but do so away from direct sunlight which can fade the fabrics.
  7. Wear cotton gloves while handling delicate fabrics like antique silks and fragile lace and wall-hangings to avoid the oils and sweat from your skin soiling the material. Have them professionally cleaned and packaged in acid-free tissue paper to prevent fabric from yellowing.
  8. Remove any metal rings or hooks before storing textiles.
  9. Vintage linens should be hand-washed in hot water with mild soap, rinsed and line dried if possible. If ironing is required, mist with distilled water rather than starch as this can attract insects.
  10. Never use colored tissue to store textiles as the dye can bleed into the fabric
  11. Don’t roll hand-painted textiles as the paint may crack

December 4th, 2009

Posted In: Top Tips