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Conserving "Gone With The Wind" Dresses

Conserving "Gone With The Wind" Dresses
Nicole Villarreal is studying the stitching and construction history of the 'Gone WIth The Wind' costumes as the Ransom Center begins the initial stages of conserving the dresses. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Nicole Villarreal and the Green Curtain Dress

When the Harry Ransom Center decided to restore Scarlett O'Hara's famous green curtain dress from "Gone With The Wind," they turned toward their colleagues in the Division of Textiles and Apparel.

Graduate student Nicole Villarreal will conduct a preliminary study of the curtain dress and other dresses from the movie to understand variations in discoloration. From the Ransom Center:
“It seems like there have been various repairs made to the curtain dress at different times,” says Jill Morena, collection assistant for costumes and personal effects at the Ransom Center. “Before conservators can proceed confidently, they need to know what was original stitching and what might have been done later.”

...

“It’s a puzzle,” Villarreal says. “Here you have very nice, clean stitching with green thread. In other places, it’s very irregular with black thread. And then you have some hooks that are kind of like an afterthought. Maybe this part was damaged that they needed to replace quickly on the set. Just before filming, you don’t have time to make those perfect little neat stitches. Or maybe it was done later.”

...

Villarreal says that they plan to consult with Dr. Bugao Xu, Professor in the Division of Textiles and Apparel at The University of Texas at Austin, about using lab equipment to do fiber analysis on the discolored fabric and to identify anachronistic fabric.

Read more about the project at the Ransom Center: Conservation work begins on “Gone With The Wind” dresses with study of stitching and construction.
Insight: December 2010
Arsenic and Life

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