SALT LAKE CITY — Upon concluding her hourlong presentation, Jennifer Hadley barely had time to turn off her microphone before she was surrounded by curious people with more questions. One man even pulled out a plastic grocery sack filled with items he wanted to show her.
Who knew there were so many who wanted to know about preserving their family textiles and various hand-made heirlooms?
More than 30 people attended Hadley's presentation in a lower level room at the Church History Library Thursday night. The title for the her lecture was "Yellow and Holey: What to do with Grandma's Trousseau."
Hadley, a textile conservator for the Church History Museum, first answered the obvious question: What is a trousseau?
"A collection of all the household linens, various dresses, clothes and other belongings a bride would need before she got married," Hadley said.
The first step to preserving an heirloom is stop wearing or using the heirloom.
"Stop wearing it for Halloween, stop sleeping on grandma's sheets, then consider the environment," Hadley said.
Consider the following when storing items, Hadley said.
Temperature: "The lower the temperature, the longer the heirloom will last. Room temperature is fine."
Humidity: "Fluctuation in humidity promotes moldy growth. Keep it stable or as low as possible."
Light: "There is a misconception that only UV rays cause damage. All light causes damage. Keep lighting dim if possible because the colors will begin to fade, which is irreversible." Hadley said lighting can also cause fiber damage to the point the material falls apart.
More storage methods to avoid include using plastic bags, shoeboxes, cedar chests and wooden or wire hangers, for a plethora of reasons, Hadley said.
"Cardboard is acidic and can cause yellowing. Wood is acidic as well. It was great back in the day, but not any more," Hadley said. "Humidity can bring rust with wire hangers and the shape of the hanger does not give proper support."
As the conservator explained the dos and don'ts, those in attendance interrupted with question after question. Hadley said proper storage requires using methods and means such as archival boxes, padded folding, rolls, padded hangers and dress bags.
"Protect your fabric," she said.
Hadley recommended avoiding the use of display boxes and encouraged framing objects.
The bottom line? Be careful and try not to cause irreparable damage.
"Your grandkids will be grateful," Hadley said.
Hadley's lecture was the last in a series under the theme of preserving your personal history. All lectures will eventually be available at www.churchhistorylibrary.org.
e-mail: [email protected]
For more resources regarding the preservation of textiles, Jennifer Hadley recommends the following websites: