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Vintage Textile Storage

StaxUP Storage | June 14, 2022 @ 12:00 AM

Vintage Textile Storage

It is necessary to store your vintage textiles in order to preserve them for yourself and for future generations. Controlling exposure to elements such as light, bugs, moisture, dirt , and mildew can reduce the deterioration of your textiles. Storage locations should be clean, dark, and climate-controlled if possible. There are three main storage types: flat (in boxes), rolling (in a tube), and hanging. The way you will be storing your textiles will depend on which texture you plan on keeping in storage. You will want to make sure you use the correct method of storage to increase the longevity of your textiles. 

Flat Storage

Flat Storage is the most recommended type of storage for textiles, specifically if it is of fragile nature. Storing in containers is the most common way of storing textiles. Containers should be made with acid-free material, be sure to avoid cardboard and wooden boxes. Using a larger container will help prevent wrinkles and folding from occurring. Line the container with tissue, polyester wadding, or white cotton sheets. If you decide to use tissue to line your container, it’s recommended that white tissue is used since other colors could potentially bleed into the fabric. Completely wrap your textile in the desired liner so it is not exposed. If the textile must be folded make sure to have an acid-free liner within each of the layers. When you add the lid and seal the container, double check to see that there is some form of circulating air, such as slits made in the lid.

Rolling Storage

Rolling storage is recommended for textiles such as rugs and quilts, these items are typically rolled around a tube and padded with acid-free tissue paper. The decorative side should always face outward, fragile textiles and those with any embellishments should be padded with extra tissue. Do not roll the textile any more than necessary as it could possibly cause cracking or wrinkling if rolled too much or too tightly. Using a flat surface, perhaps one that is as big or bigger than the tissue or cloth you are using will help you roll and wrap your item. Adding a layer to the outside such as cotton muslin would act as a dust covering to protect your item even more. When adding a dust cover make sure it is big enough to wrap it around at least 1.5 times and that you're able to tuck the remaining material into the top and bottom of the tube. When tying the cover check that it's not too tight or it could cause folds and wrinkles. 

Hanging Storage 

Hanging storage is usually for clothing and costumes as it lessens the chance of wrinkles occurring. Avoid metal and wooden hangers, rather opt for a more sturdy, padded hanger to better support your textile. After hanging the item up, cover it up with a muslin dust cover and steer clear of plastic and vinyl coverings since those tend to deteriorate over time. For items you can see yourself needing to store for a longer amount of time, it is suggested you wash any cotton covering or cotton storage supplies on a yearly basis. 

Vintage Textile Storage Checklist:

  • All items should be cleaned before storing. Be sure to follow the directions as seen fit for each individual item.
  1. It is encouraged to take your item to a trusted dry cleaner, who knows how delicate vintage textiles can be. Using starch or products alike could possibly attract pests, so it's better to avoid those. 
  2. Using a vacuum to get rid of surface dirt for delicate and antique items is a way to show it some extra care and attention. Make sure to use a cotton-bound fiberglass screen to protect it or use a handheld vacuum with a weaker suction.
  3. For especially delicate textiles, you can have an independent textile restorer clean it.
  • Storage locations should be clean, dark, and climate-controlled if possible. Since attics, basements, and closets are usually close to an exterior wall, they make poor choices for storage placement. Attics can have poor insulation which can make the temperature in them get super warm. Basements tend to be cold and are subject to moisture, mildew, and flooding. Closets on the exterior walls don't usually have even temperatures for storing delicate items. 
  • Be sure to check on your textiles every so often. Inspect for damages, such as insects or mildew. You could also take that as a chance to refold and replace tissue if needed.
  • Do not store items in airtight containers. If storing in a container make sure to put some slits in the lid to promote air flow. Avoid plastic or cellophane windows, as they dont allow air movement. With no air circulation it can lead moisture to form and mildew to grow inside.
  • Always use acid-free materials. 100% cotton white sheets, acid-free tissue, washed unbleached muslin, and acid-free containers are the best way to go.
  • Label and date what you're storing. Write what the item is and a brief description of it, and the date stored. If you're using identical containers this is an effective way to tell which item is in which container.

Storing antique textiles the proper way is crucial if you want to preserve your item for many generations. With proper care and the correct storage method for your textile, they can be admired for many years to come.

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