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An example of textile restoration: women’s headwear

In preparation for the new permanent exhibition Modegalerie (Fashion Gallery), numerous historical garments for men and women are being restored as well as countless accessories. One example of the latter is a woman’s bonnet, called acapote, from the mid-nineteenth century. It is made of green silk taffeta over a ring-shaped frame of whalebone hoops and iron wire, and lined with cotton tulle (figs. 1 and 2).

The silk had been bleached a pale yellow in patches presumably from exposure to light or damp. Brownish stains on the tulle lining wereprobably the result ofa build-up of oily residues from wear. Damage and losses were also visible on the outer fabric that must have been caused by something mechanical (fig. 3) or the corrosion of the underlying wire frame. Broken and frayed threads had also caused a considerable amount of damage to the heavily worked tulle.

The object was first cleaned mechanically with a soft brush and carefully vacuumed. The tears and losses in the outer fabric were lined with silk, dyed to match the original, and sewn together with reeled silk thread (fig. 4). Torn patches in the tulle were also stabilised with a lining of very fine silk.

A specially customised mount will be made for the presentation of the object in the Modegalerie where it will also be protected from exposure to dust and light.