JAIC 2005, Volume 44, Number 1, Article 3 (pp. 27 to 38)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2005, Volume 44, Number 1, Article 3 (pp. 27 to 38)


Janet Evenson, & Patricia Cox Crews


A quiltmaker's choice of materials—including fabric, batting, thread, and other components—influences the life span of the object. When components prematurely yellow, stiffen, or weaken with age, the degradation is disappointing, and sometimes devastating, for individual quiltmakers and their families, as well as for serious collectors or museum curators who may spend thousands of dollars on classic antique or art quilts for their collections.

Conservators and conservation scientists (Down 1984, 1986; Horie 1987; Keyserlingk 1990; Down et al. 1996; Timar-Balazsy and Eastop 1998; Kronthal et al. 2003) have evaluated archival-quality adhesives and identified ones acceptable for use in conservation treatments. Unfortunately, published results concerning the long-term performance of adhesive-containing commercial products manufactured for the quilt market are not readily available to quiltmakers and home sewers or to discerning collectors and curators. Consequently, they cannot make informed choices. Textile scientists and conservators are, however, aware of these commercially available products and have expressed concerns about them. The conservation science literature is filled with reports about the deleterious effects of adhesives on paper and textiles (Himmelstein and Appelbaum 1977; Finch 1980; Blum 1982; Feller and Encke 1982; Smith 1983; Masschelein-Kleiner and Bergiers 1984; Feller 1994; Down et al. 1996; Timar-Balazsy and Eastop 1998).

The purpose of this study was to carry out light-and heat-aging tests on three types of adhesives used in quilting. Products tested included three quilt basting sprays: Sullivans, Sulky KK2000, and 505 Spray and Fix; three fusible webs: Stitch Witchery, Pellon Wonder-Under, and HeatnBond; and three fusible battings: June Tailor Low Loft (polyester), Stearns Mountain Mist White Gold (cotton), and Hobbs Heirloom (80% cotton/20% polyester blend). The goal was to determine whether the selected adhesive-containing commercial products contribute to discoloration or promote degradation of fabrics over time.

Copyright 2005 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works