Studio life

The great cover up

February 2017 saw the completion of the eleventh Gideon tapestry ‘Gideon choosing his army’. At 6m x 9m this is the largest tapestry in the National Trust’s collection.

The last stage before rehanging the tapestry was lining the tapestry. This meant the top border had to be re-stitched to the mainfield. This required the full 9m of tapestry to be unrolled. The lower border was lined separately.

The main reason for lining a tapestry is to stop dust from penetrating the back. For this reason a tightly woven undyed cotton cambric is used. The lining is fixed to the back of the tapestry using lines of loose locking stitches. The stitches are worked from the centre to the sides in parallel lines, worked from top to bottom. Fullness was allowed in the height and width of the lining to allow for any dimensional changes in the tapestry as it hangs.

Lining Gideon ©National Trust/Textile Conservation Studio
Lining the tapestry, working from the centre to the side edges

The edge of the lining is turned under and slip stitched firmly in place to stop dust penetration.

Moving the tapestry became a studio ‘event’ with all hands at the ready.

Moving the tapestry

The tapestry will be rehung using Velcro™. Loop Velcro stitched to cotton webbing tape has been stitched to the reverse of the tapestry. Two rows at the top of the mainfield, a single row along the top edge. These will correspond with battens on the wall which hold the hook Velcro.

After reconstruction of the tapestry, access to the top of the mainfield is only possible by leaning over a roller containing the top border. For this reason two conservators worked together to pass the needle from the back of the tapestry to the front, securing the Velcro in place.

The tapestry is due to be rehung in June 2017. We hope you will enjoy seeing the results of our conservation work over the past 2 ½ years.

Some facts and figures about this very tapestry:

Total number of conservator hours – 5,995

Length of time taken for conservation – 2 ½ years

Size – 6m high x 9m wide (a double decker bus is 4.2m high x 10.5m wide)

Surface area – 54 m²

Higher than a double decker bus

To read more on the complete treatment of this tapestry, click here!



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