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Textile stabilization

Textile stabilization is a conservation method used to stabilize weak points in textile pieces and prevent further degradation or damage to the fabric.

Fabric may be used to provide support for the garment by stabilizing weak sections or by creating a backing or lining for the piece. Darning may be utilized on coarsely-woven fabrics with localized areas of damage.

Translucent or sheer fabrics are used to stabilize the textile without altering its appearance. This is typically done using nylon netting, silk crepeline, or polyester Tetex. Overlay is generally applied to textiles too fragile to withstand localized stitching methods. Overlay materials may be stitched to a more stable backing fabric.

Careful stitching is used to secure stabilizing materials to the original fabric.

Textile Conservators may use either heat set or bobbinet netting, both of which do not fray but are susceptible to degradation and reactions from light. Netting may be used together with a backing fabric.

Silk Crepeline Silk is less sheer than nylon netting and is also susceptible to reactions to light, but may be used as an overlay technique as well as for patching specific areas and can be easily dyed. Because it can fray, the edges need to be hemmed, which can create less sheer areas.

The least sheer overlay material, Tetex also has a sheen and is available in a selected range of colors which are not easily dyed. The material does not require hemming but is the most difficult to drape over fabrics. It is most often chosen for its long term stability.

  • Should not cause damage through friction with the original fabric
  • Be of similar or lighter weight than the original fabric.
  • Match the original fabric with consideration of the loss of color or sheen
  • Be of a tight enough weave to exclude dust if being used as a barrier
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Some varieties are very stiff
  • Available in fewer colors, but is easily dyed
  • Has a better drape than heat set netting or Tetex


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