Conserving Cherished Cushions

9th July, 2020

Over time, some of our most loved and treasured items can become a little worn and tired. Within our Embroidery Studio we are fortunate to handle a wide variety of items, many of which hold great sentimental value and are in need of a little TLC (tender, loving, care).

Where possible, we always try to maintain as much of the original integrity of a piece whilst preserving it for many future generations to enjoy. These two beautiful Crewelwork and hand painted silk cushions are a perfect example of this.

Crewelwork Cushion
The Crewelwork cushion, depicting leaves and flowers, was originally worked in Crewel wools on a linen fabric. Due to general wear and tear, there were a number of holes throughout (see image above). Our expert Embroidery Studio began by carefully deconstructing the cushion. The next step was to match a suitable support fabric in a sympathetic colour and texture. Following a light dry surface clean using our low suction conservation hoover, the original cushion cover was carefully positioned onto the new linen support fabric. Using invisible thread, we discreetly surface couched and stabilised the piece where needed. All loose threads and ends were secured to prevent further deterioration.

Once all the repair work had been completed we were able to mount the finished piece onto an acid free conservation board ready to be framed allowing the piece to be enjoyed and treasured for many more years to come.

Silk Cushion
The delicately hand painted silk cushion, depicting a fresh display of daisies, was a little more fragile. Typically silk can deteriorate over time, disintegrating and flaking in areas.

Due to the fragility of the silk fabric and the hand painting, we had to handle the cushion extremely carefully. Similar to the Crewelwork cushion, we began by deconstructing the cushion.  Our Studio embroiderers had to be particularly careful when removing the fringe so as not to damage the surrounding edges. A very gentle dry surface clean removed all dust and dirt ready for the next step.

In keeping with the original silk fabric, we selected a sturdy silk support fabric upon which to mount the floral cushion front. A fine layer of conservation net was then placed over the top of the piece, encasing the original cover and secured with stitching along the edges and within splits in the fabric. This is the most appropriate method to protect this particular type of work as stitching directly into the original silk would risk perforating the fabric, causing splits and holes. The netting contains the silk fabric should any further deterioration occur.  Once stabilised the piece was then mounted ready for framing.

It is always so pleasing to be able to preserve such precious keepsakes and we really enjoy working on these types of commissions.  If you have a special item you would like to conserve or restore, please email our Embroidery Studio: [email protected]