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The material munchers - what to do with moths!!

The insect saviours amongst us may consider moths to be symbols of faith, life, brightness and light – me too!. Until I discovered that the larvae of the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) is really a real pest, particularly in the Summer months when you are storing your stash of homeware fabrics & materials such as blankets, sheets, towels, curtains, linen etc. in cupboards and elsewhere. They invade the home and the larvae of this moth particularly enjoys feeding on, and gathering their nourishment from natural fibres such as wool, and carving out holes the size of 5p coin (or a US dime) in the fabric, so you must keep those woolly woollens out of the grasp of these wool-hungry beasts (and their larvae).

Washing natural fibres in essential oils and/or storing them with smelly anti-moth balls or sachets are tried and tested methods of keeping these pesky moths and their larvae away from the tempting smell of tasty wool. However, antique/old woollen and flannel blankets and quilts which were originally dyed with madder and other plant dye extracts do not now survive well in the modern-day washing machine – the wool will be well and truly unravelled/dishevelled!. The other issue in Summer (is there one in Wales you may ask?….) is light – "yes"!…the dreaded rays of that big orange aurora in the sky called the sun. Antique woollen and naturally dyed fabrics do not fare well in direct sunlight (or even partial sunlight) over prolonged periods of time.

Our founder at Wonky Weaver™ Dr Haydn has been collecting antique (Welsh) textiles (Quilts & Blankets) for many years. These lovely hand-made fabrics were handcrafted in Wales, UK over many decades and hand-made predominately from Wool and dyed using an array of natural plant dyes. Such textiles really are a moths’ paradise if they can get in there to lay their annoying little eggs that go on to propagate on those woolly nests.

Our objective therefore was to find a way to stop this moth infestation and protect our lovely historical collection of natural antique wool textiles.

The general remedy, put simply, is that we must all place and store our precious fabrics into a storage bag fully out of the way and outta reach from the hungry lips of moths and also the rays of Summer sunlight…but please don’t use just any old bin liner or plastic bag!.... This will just make the stored textile sweat like “billy-o” and another pestilent microhabitat of mould and fungi will create itself and subsequently our precious antique/precious fabrics won’t last long if at all (damp, wet and squidgy springs to mind). On an initial journey of exploration, we found that plastic PE vacuum bags worked fairly well for short-term storage, however, in the long-term, the lack of air flow in these PE bags led to permanent creasing and discolouration of the stored textiles along with undesired moisture build-up and condensation. Sadly, some of our fabrics were unrecoverable due to the mould build-up in the plastic coat.

So what’s the answer - you might ask?

With the extensive efforts of our R&D/Technical team and a BSc student dissertation, along with the support from leading advisors in the preservation of Antique Textiles, we here at Wonky Weaver™ have designed and constructed a unique storage coat made from a lightweight, breathable & waterproof material with considerable strength. It acts as a protectant fully securing textiles/fabrics from both moth infestation and damage from sunlight. The material also has the added benefits of being inert and pH neutral, and does not include any binders, fillers or plasticisers, resulting in no chemical or other interactions between the stored fabric and its precious contents. The non-woven material finish is very smooth (like paper) and soft (like fabric), so won’t cause damage through abrasion. Being non-woven, it won’t snag and tear, or leave lint - a distinct advantage over fabric, paper or film.

We hoped you would read through the history and the science that led us to create a logical storage solution for all collectors of fabrics, materials, antique items, and particularly those items of Wool origin. The best solution for the storage of any antique material, fabric or textile is using the Wonky Weaver™ PxProtec™ Fabric Coats.

Vsit our shop for more information on the PxProtec™ Fabric Coats and range of sizes and variants available for purchase.

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