Conservation Projects

Wet Cleaning an Infant Shirt for Conservation Part 1

Dear readers, the beginning of the semester has swept me away as usual and here it is a third of the way through and I haven’t written anything here since winter break. Since I have several projects from last semester that I would like to discuss here, I am going to try to take an hour a week and transcribe a piece into a blog post.

I promise, I will eventually talk about my 1830’s calash report, but for the sake of easing in, I am going to start with my report on wet cleaning an infant’s shirt for conservation, which is 27 pages, as opposed to around 50.

This project began with each student choosing a textile object, which was (presumably) cellulosic, from a box filled with many stained and yellowed objects. Since I was simultaneously working on my calash report, I decided to choose a more simple object -although, are any objects truly simple? Simple in construction and decoration, then, to clarify. I was intrigued by the construction, which was composed mainly of geometric shapes and therefore reminiscent of 18th and early 19th century women’s chemises.

Wet Cleaning an Infant Shirt for Conservation

23 SEP-22 OCT 2019
Supervisor: Professor Rebecca Kelly for TMD 538, University of Rhode Island

Front view. Photo by author.

Object: Unknown
Accession No.: N/A, Conservation Teaching Collection
Materials: Unknown
Date: Unknown

As the object was not accessioned into URI’s Historic Costume and Textiles Collection, there was no information on it and I was starting from scratch. I began by photographing it, taking dimensions and creating a description.

Front view. Photo by author.

Dimensions: ~9.5” x 11” (24.13 cm x 27.94”)

Short Description: Object is made of a plain-weave fabric. Inserts in the straps are of a different fabric with a tighter plain weave. The inserts have hand-embroidered cutwork. Object is not very yellowed or brittle given the possible age, but has some grey stains of unknown origin.

In the next installment, I will discuss my research into dating and categorizing the object. While the size indicated it was for a very young child, I had little previous knowledge about historic children’s clothing and could determine nothing further about it through basic observation.


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