By: Jeanmarie Tucker
In the last few weeks we have been processing boxes containing children's garments. These garments were often stored with up to twenty objects in a box, separated by only a sheet of tissue. Among these items were several velvet coats and suit jackets.
Velvet is a luxurious and very recognizable fabric. Velvet is the term used for fabric made in a certain way, as opposed to a specific fiber, such as silk or rayon. Velvet can be made from silk, wool, cotton or man-made fibers like rayon. To create a velvet fabric, two thicknesses of a fiber are woven on a loom that creates loops in two separate layers. The layers are then separated to create a dense pile that gives velvet its smooth feel. The technique of looping the threads requires larger quantities of the fiber than a typical flat textile, which made velvet a more expensive fabric.
There are many different types of velvet. For example, Devoré velvet uses an acid to remove the pile on the fabric to create a pattern. In another type of velvet, void velvet, the pattern is woven into the fabric on the loom by leaving a pile-free ground. The texture of crushed velvet is made by mechanical twisting of wet pile in different directions.
Due to the cutting of the pile in manufacturing, velvet easily sheds onto other textiles. During rehousing, we kept velvet made sure to separate velvet objects and use Tyvek and tissue are barriers. We also payed special attention to how the arms of the coats rested on the front of the jacket and inserted tissue there to prevent abrasion. Tyvek snakes were putin the arms and along the sides to prevent strong creases from forming when placed in an archival box. Folds can weaken the fibers along the crease over time. Now out of the tightly packed Pratt House box, these velvet coats should be very happy in their new home!
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