Skip to content

Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Patch It Up!

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , textile conservation , fabric , dress

conservation process of silk


Painting for textile conservation? One technique for repairing damaged textiles is to use patching fabric that has been impregnated with conservation adhesive! Here the textile conservator is preparing very fine silk fabric, called crepeline, which will become patches for a 1920s dress. The orange squares have been dyed to match the dress. The patching fabric is laid out “on grain” (so it isn’t stretched or skewed when the adhesive is applied), then painted with a dilute mixture of adhesive and solvent, which dries leaving a very fine film of adhesive stuck in the fabric. The wet fabric looks almost clear against the green cutting mat (which is protected by a layer of silicone release paper). When the adhesive has dried, patches in the correct shape can be cut out, applied to the dress (usually on the inside), and the adhesive is reactivated with heat or a solvent to create a nearly-invisible repair.