Under Wraps: The furniture at the Legion gets custom-made covers

For the last several months, Textile Conservation volunteers Kathy Murphy, Jean Scardina, intern Erica Storm and Objects Conservation volunteer Tegan Broderick have all been hard at work making covers for the furniture stored at the Legion of Honor. While most of the chairs were already stored beneath loose-fitting pieces of cloth, custom covers provide the objects with better protection from light and dust. Clearly labeled covers also facilitate quick identification of the objects underneath and prevent unnecessary handling.

To make a cover, we first measure each piece of furniture and record the dimensions on a measurement sheet.

Under Wraps

Measuring a chair

The measurements allow us to draft a pattern for the object. For a chair, the pattern consists of two quadrilateral side pieces and a large rectangular piece that make up the front, top and two sides of the cover. For a rectangular table, the pattern includes a large section that covers the top and two of the sides as well as two smaller sections that cover the remaining two sides.

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Objects Conservation volunteer Tegan Broderick outlines a pattern

The pattern is then cut from Tyvek, a spun bonded, high density polyethylene.

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A cut pattern for a chair

The volunteers sew the pieces together with white cotton thread. The volunteers all have excellent sewing skills and have finished each cover with pleats at the corners and hems on all edges.

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Textile Conservation intern Erica Storm sews a furniture cover

Labels identify each object. These labels contain information such as the accession number, a barcode, the name of the artist, the type of object (armchair, wing chair, table, etc.) and a photograph. These labels are inserted into a clear plastic pocket sewn onto the front of each cover. Because these furniture covers will be placed on objects in upper storage bays, the labels are positioned near the bottom of the cover, making them easy to read by someone standing on the ground.

Under Wraps

A completed label and measurement sheet

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A completed furniture cover

Thanks to these volunteers, nearly all of the upholstered furniture in the Legion of Honor storage now has custom covers!