Fabric In Fashion | Introduction to Fibers

Fabric In Fashion | Introduction to Fibers


Fibers are the building blocks of textiles. They are fine, thread like structures that can be spun into continuous yarns and then woven or knitted into cloth. Fibers can come from nature, like cotton that comes from plants, or silk, which is produced by silkworms when they make their cocoons. Wool comes from animal hair. Most commonly from sheep. Humans have used these natural fibers for thousands of years to create the textiles they use everyday. More recently, during the last 150 years, people have created synthetic fibers from petroleum, coal, and other industrial products. Chemicals are synthesized into long continuous fibers or made into films. There are thousands of sources for textile fibers. This exhibition focuses on some of the most common found in Western fashion: silk, cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers. At The Museum at FIT, our team of conservators examine every object that comes into the collection. Identifying the fibers in each object is an important step in creating strategies for display, treatment, and storage. Conservators use both visual examination and microscopy to identify fibers. This information helps them create the best plan for preserving the object and treating any damage. Silk, for example, is especially sensitive to damage caused from over-exposure to light. That may have contributed to the splitting in this delicate silk organza overdress from about 1825. Here, the conservator is carefully aligning the grain and gently removing creases from the fabric of the dress. She then uses a silk organza support fabric in conjunction with small fine stitches of silk thread to reinforce and stabilize the nearly 200 year old fabric. The repairs are nearly invisible, but they are crucial in stabilizing the object so it can be safely dressed on a mannequin and displayed in this exhibition. [Music Playing]

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