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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: The Light Touch

by Obie Linn, Conservator of Textiles


textile conservation , CAMConservation , 1910s fashion

This week in the textile conservation lab, I am working on a day dress dating to the 1910s. It has a very delicate silk net stand-up collar edged with a metal ribbon and stiffened with wire stays. These delicate materials were damaged over time (100 years is a long time for silk net to be held up by wire!). Their delicacy also makes them very hard to patch and repair. Patching materials need to be as airy and fine as the original to blend in and attach with the lightest, most sensitive touch.

I used a patch of dyed silk net, the same color and weight as the original material. The patch is attached to the reverse of the original by stitching. Then the wire stay could be secured. The split edge of the metal ribbon was whip-stitched back together with a super-fine thread called Skala©.

There are a few more things to do for this dress. Stay tuned for more as we continue to make her look her best before she is installed in the gallery later this summer!