FABRIC REPAIR JOURNEY
Each textile artifact is one-of-a-kind treasure. Much like humans who age and get sick, textiles will also age and slowly break down. Eventually they need attention and repair to extend their lives. Textile repair is a delicate and professional process, one that requires patience, prudence, and attention to detail. When repairing textiles, there are several principles to follow to avoid any loss to the value of the textile due to improper repair. These principles are as follows:
- Authenticity: A need to respect the textile’s history and the unique characteristics of the culture from which it emerged. Repairs should be in line with local conditions and circumstances. The original materials of the textile serve as evidence of its historical and cultural context and thus their conservation is key to preserving the textile’s authenticity.
- Re-Repairs: As materials begin to age and repair techniques advance with time, it might be necessary to remove previously used materials or repairs. Therefore, it is important to use removable or reprocessable materials or techniques to ensure the textile can be easily re-repaired at a later date.
- Minimal Intervention: The central purpose of any repair is to maintain the structural stability of the textile—both at present and in any future conservation efforts. Therefore, when selecting a treatment method, the one that is least interventive is preferred. Except for removing items not original to the work or hazardous materials, or adding materials that assist in the stability of the textile, repairs should strive to be as minimally invasive as possible.
- Visibility: A need to respect the original materials of the textile. If new materials are added as part of the restoration process, these materials should be visible and identifiable, with all repair materials and methods carefully documented.
- Avoiding Guesswork: Avoid guessing at the appearance of a pattern that has been lost or is unclear. During repair, a detailed investigation should be first undertaken and sufficient data collected before assessing the degree of restoration needed. During the repair process detailed before/after records should be kept.
作品損壞狀況 Damage Status
Dust and Flyspecks
60x60x3cm No framed
Textiles are susceptible to partial or total color change as a result of foreign containments including dust, water stains, oil stains, dye migration, metal corrosion stains, mold stains, etc. These foreign containments can adhere to the surface of the textile or permeate its fibers causing discoloration. If proper decontamination is not carried out, stains and degradation will become harder to remove over time.
When the condition of the textile is still good, the corresponding cleaning method is to cover the textile with a mesh fabric before using a soft brush to gently sweep the surface. A vacuum specially designed for cultural artifacts is also used to remove any loose dust on the surface.
指不用溶劑或水洗的除塵方式，除去表面或嵌入纖維的灰塵、昆蟲排遺等污染物，避免污染物殘存於纖維間隙或滲入纖 維內部，影響織品保存，造成後續處理困難。歷史性織品的纖維多已劣化，淸潔可採刷、吸、吹、黏、擦、夾等方式， 淸除織品表面累積之外來污染物，淸潔時需審愼評估，可於局部先進行測試。脆弱織品吸塵時，表面可加鋪網布保護。
Repair Method One: Dry Cleaning
This refers to dust removal methods without solvents or water that aim to remove dust and flyspecks from the textile’s surface or from within its fibers to prevent containments from remaining in the spaces between fibers or in the fibers themselves which can lead to problems in future conservation and repair. Many of the fibers found in historical textiles show signs of deterioration. In this case, cleaning can be done through brushing, suction, blowing, adhesion, wiping, or tweezing methods. To removed foreign containments that have accumulated on the surface of a textile, careful evaluation is required, with tests performed in small areas at first. When vacuuming a fragile textile, the textile can be covered in a mesh to protect it.
Repair Method Two: Wet Cleaning
Depending on the type of fabric or stain, or degree of contamination, wet cleaning refers to
the use of deionized water, distilled water, or pure water as cleaning agents, or (when
necessary) the use of neutral PH cleaning agents to remove accumulated dirt or stains from
the textile’s surface or fibers. The process of wet cleaning is carried out differently with
historical textiles. In particularly fragile or damaged areas, safety measures protecting the
textile are first carried out. Before wet cleaning, tests are usually first done to avoid any
color bleeding or fabric shrinkage.
作品損壞狀況 Damage Status
Tears and Splits
40x60x8cm No frame
In older textiles, it is common to see cracks and splits insurfaces due to improper storage or hanging. Linear cracks are often found at the folds of a textile. In fragile or damaged areas, improper application of external forcescan easily cause a breaking of the textile’s yarns. There can also be cracks at the seams of the textile. This is oftenfound with heavier textiles that are hung, as their weight eventually causes tears at the seams.
Repair Method One: Sewing and Mending
Different sewing needles, threads, and supporting fabrics will be used depending on the textile’s condition. Stitch reinforcement helps stabilize damaged areas and prevents tears and splits from growing in severity and size. In older, damaged textiles, supporting fabrics may be used when appropriate. Both supporting fabrics and stitch reinforcement are introduced in a manner where they can be later removed if needed. With the same logic, threads are not knotted at their beginning or end.
Commonly used sewing techniques: running stitch, back stitch, couching stitch, straight stitch, and hidden stitch.
作品損壞狀況 Damage Status
Wrinkles and Creases
42x83x15cm Wooden frame
Wooden frame, textiles, resin adhesive
When textiles have been subject to external extrusion, folding, or twisting forces, short and irregular wrinkles or longer, sharper creases can appear. As fibers in older textiles are more brittle, it becomes difficult to return wrinkled or creased areas back to their original, flat appearance. Wrinkles and creases may also appear in the same textile.
A common method to deal with wrinkles and creases is to increase humidity in the area using deionized or distilled water. With the increased moisture, fibers become softer and more flexible. Afterwards, the textile is carefully flattened. Its edges are compressed with a cloth weight or fixed with silk needles to allow the textile to naturally straighten as it dries.
Repair Method One: Using Humidification
Historical textiles can be treated using humidification. Increased moisture leaves fibers in a swollen, slack, and soft state. The textile is kept flat while adjustments are made to malformed surface areas, wrinkles, and misaligned warp and weft weaves. When flatting a textile the intensity of the stretch on the fabric needs to be carefully controlled. Depending on the material, cloth weights or silk needles can be used to fix the textile in place, helping to return it a relatively flat state as it dries.
作品損壞狀況 Damage Status
Holes and missing sections in foundation
50x60x3cm Wooden frame
Textiles, firecrackers or bamboo incense,wooden frame, various types of wire
When a textile has missing fibers, yarns, auxiliary materials, or has broken, missing, displaced, or distorted fibers, textiles will often evidence noticeable pores or holes. These can come about due to snagging of the fabric, breaking of threads, human negligence, moths, rats, rust, chemical corrosion, fire damage, or friction.
Fabric conservators often use pieces of restored fabric to address missing sections or areas that need stabilization. The damaged area is first laid flat, and then a patch of the size of the damaged area is measured out, before being sewed onto the damaged area. This can help to strengthen the textile’s overall structure.
作品損壞狀況 Damage Status
Detached or missing threads
or auxiliary materials
56x100x6cm No framed
Textiles, embroidery thread, gold thread, yarn
When the embroidered threads of a textile break, loosen, or fall off, the result is often a tangle of threads.
After careful inspection and analysis, the detached threads are returned to their original place and appearance in a process that retains the original appearance, materials, and craftmanship. Original patterns or motifs are preserved so that the work’s traditional craftsmanship can be enjoyed by later generations.
Under the conservator’s fingertips are hundreds of years of history. Every step is done in respect and acknowledgment of this history.
Repair Method One:
If the threads and auxiliary materials of a pattern are all present, only a recording and cleaning of the piece is undertaken. Alternatively, after cleaning, a reinforcement of materials is undertaken in accordance with their original pattern and craftmanship.
Repair Method Two:
If a pattern has detached threads but the original materials are present, after an investigation into the craftmanship of the piece, a trial embroidery is created according to the area’s original pattern, dimensions, and craftmanship. Once this trial repair is found to be without mistakes, the threads are then straightened, reset, and reinforced, once again in line with the original pattern and craftmanship. If there are detached auxiliary materials, they are reinforced as well in accordance with their original positions.
Repair Method Three:
When patterns, threads, or auxiliary materials are missing in toto, after an investigation into the original craftmanship of the piece, a record of the piece’s patterns, dimensions, materials, and craftmanship is created for future reference. Incomplete sections are cleaned but kept as they are. There is no guessing of the original pattern or adding of new materials.