Conserving a silk union flag approximately 4 metres x 8 metres in size


Pieces of silk rep weave, hand stitched together; hoist edge of cotton canvas houses a rope.

Client brief/Role of object

Make stable for storage and eventual display in museum.

Condition before treatment

Fair condition overall; stained and ingrained soils; very crumpled. Red and blue silk structurally sound; however, cream silk weaker and considerably more damaged. Metal eyelets in hoist edge lightly corroded. Small labels adhered to silk.


Surface cleaned on both sides to remove loose particulate soiling with low powered vacuum suction in combination with tweezers and soft brush. Removal of adhesive labels and most corrosion from eyelets with solvents and mechanical action; waterborne stain reduction from silk.

Contact humidification to relax creasing and ease distortions. Patch support areas of splits in cream silk with custom-dyed silk and conservation grade nylon net supported with conservation stitches. Attach a heading band of Velcro™ to provide a means of attachment to the display board.

Condition after treatment

Damaged areas responded well to treatment. Flag much stronger as a result; dyed silk patches provide an effective visual infill for the areas of loss.


Reproduced courtesy of The Fleet Air Arm Museum and the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton. Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton © 2009 [TCC 3025]

Kate Gill , TCC project manager and conservator

Treatment completed March 2009