On a Roll: Textile Storage (part I)

It’s time for another preservation post! If you’re new to the Museum Minute (welcome!), be sure to catch up with my post on padded hangers and on book preservation.

So without further delay (we only have a minute, after all), today’s topic is (drum roll please–no pun intended–) Rolled Textile Storage!


Textiles come in all shapes and sizes, including, of course, “very large”. Flags, coverlets, and banners can be a challenge to preserve, especially if they’re large in size. If you have an item like this in your collection, you mostly have two options: either put it in a box, or don’t.

If a box won’t work (I’ll write about that later), what else can we do?

Roll them!

Copious amounts of rolled storage (Amherst Museum, 2002)

Rolling large textiles around a tube makes them more physically manageable and keeps them from being overly handled. By using proper preservation materials during the process, you can store the items without worry.

You will need:

* A large, clean work surface (depending on your workspace and the size of the item/s, you may need to use the floor)

* A tube, which is longer than the item and has the widest diameter possible (acid/lignin-free tubes are available for purchase but standard mailing tubes are okay to use too)

* Unbleached/un-sized muslin (old bedsheets work well too; be sure to wash them without soap or with Orvus first.)

* Unbuffered, acid-free tissue or Tyvek(r) (optional)

* Cotton twill tape

How to:

0. (Yes, step zero.) Catalog and photograph the item before rolling it!

1. Clean your workspace (especially if you’re working on the floor)

2. If your tube is not acid/lignin free, cover the tube with the unbleached muslin, tissue or Tyvek(r) (Tyvek is my favorite; tissue can be cumbersome and tear).

3. Lay out a layer of muslin, slightly larger and longer than your item, on your work surface.

4. Place the item face-down on the muslin and make sure it’s flat.

5. Starting at one end, carefully roll the textile and muslin, making sure that the item is not folding or being stressed as it’s being rolled. Larger pieces may require multiple people to accomplish this.

6. Once rolled, cover the tube with another layer of muslin and tie the ends with cotton twill tape.

7. Attach an ID tag and photo print-out to the outer layer of muslin.
Also, be sure to check out a Conserve O Gram on the topic (and you know I love those!)

Oh no! I’ve gone over my word count …again! I will have to save the “what do we do with it now?!? post for next week. Until then, happy rolling!

2 thoughts on “On a Roll: Textile Storage (part I)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Flags, coverlets and banners, oh my: rolled textile storage, today at Museum Minute: --

  2. Pingback: On a Roll: Textile Storage (part 2) | Museum Minute

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s