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Storage and transport of Inuit gut parkas


To enable safe transportation of two very large Inuit gut parkas to a new storage facility.


Sarah Glenn ACR
Senior Textile Conservator
Victoria and Albert Museum
London SW7 2RL
Tel +44 (0)207 602 0281

Nicola Harrison
Junior Clothworker Fellow
British Museum
London WC1B 3DG

Pippa Cruickshank
Expert Conservator for Textiles and Fibres British Museum
London WC1B 3DG

Photo Credits: Sarah Glenn Photo Credits: © The Trustees of the British Museum

Publication: 2016




  1. Parkas to be stored horizontally with outstretched arms (due to the nature of the material is not possible to fold them to reduce their size).
  2. Internal supports to prevent development of creases and folds.
  3. Handling boards to prevent handling of the parkas themselves.
  4. Parkas need to be angled briefly to enable getting through doors and out of building.
  5. External protection during transportation and future storage. Description A lightweight internal support system to secure each gut parka to a rigid backboard within custom made acid free card storage box.

Materials, Tools & Supplies

  • Archival acid-free corrugated card boxes
  • Bondina® (non-woven polyester)
  • 30 gsm Cotton tape – narrow plain weave and wide twill weave
  • Curved needle
  • Ethafoam®
  • Gummed linen tape
  • Archival Plastazote® (approx. 5 mm thick)
  • Polyester thread
  • Polyester wadding
  • Sewing machine
  • Tycore®
  • Tyvek®
  • Unbleached cotton calico fabric
  • Velcro® (non adhesive)
  • Vinamul 3252 (vinyl acetate, ethylene copolymer adhesive)


Internal body support

1. Measure the cuff circumference and cut a strip of Plastazote 1cm smaller. Cover the strip in Bondina, using a ladder stitch for invisible stitching. Join the ends together and stitch to form a tube. Stitch a piece of narrow cotton tape to the inside of the tube and leave an excess to stitch to the handling board later. [Fig. 1] 

Figure 1. The measurements required to create the support

Figure 1. The measurements required to create the support

2. Cut a length of wide cotton twill tape approx. 10 cm longer than the width of the outstretched arms. Cover the tape using a roll of polyester wadding and herringbone stitch the edges together. Then cover the tube with Bondina and use ladder stitch to secure in place. Use machine stitching to secure the edges of the Bondina to the cotton tape. [Fig. 2]

Figure 2. The cuff supports

Figure 2. The cuff supports

3. Repeat step 2 for both cuff-to-hem supports. [Fig. 3]

Figure 3. Ensure the ends of the tapes extend beyond the sleeves

Figure 3. Ensure the ends of the tapes extend beyond the sleeves

4. To create a chest and neck support, measure from the neck to midway point on the parka. Measure the depth of the neck cavity. Cut a rectangular piece of 3mm thick Plastazote sheet twice the length. Cover the Plastazote in Bondina and then stitch the two ends together forming a hollow lightweight wedge shape by bending the Plastazote in half.

5. It may be necessary to create another tubular neck support using the same method as the cuff support (stage 1), especially if the neck is long.

Hood support

1. Create an internal support for the hood by forming a tube of polyester wadding to the same depth as the internal hood. Cover this in Bondina and insert into position. [Fig. 4] 

Figure 4. Hood and neck support

Figure 4. Hood and neck support

2. Create an internal support to fit within this soft tube using polyester wadding alone (or Ethafoam covered in polyester wadding) and cover this with Bondina.

3. Use cotton tapes with Velcro fixings to attach the soft internal hood support to the neck and chest supports where appropriate. Attach the internal supports together using cotton tape.

4. Trace the outline of the external curve of the hood and measure the depth of the hood. Shape a block of Ethafoam slightly deeper than the hood to fit this curve, and cover in Bondina. Attach to the back board in the correct place by stitching and / or Velcro strips.

5. Stitch a length of cotton tape between the rigid support and the internal hood support to secure together. [Fig. 5]

Figure 5. Attach the internal hood supports together with cotton tape

Figure 5. Attach the internal hood supports together with cotton tape


1. Cover the Tycore sheet in unbleached calico by securing fabric to reverse of board by heat sealing a dried film of Vinamul 3252 painted around the edges of the reverse of the board and then covering the fabric edges with gummed linen tape adhered with Vinamul 3252.

2. Attach two long strips of wide cotton twill tape (in parallel) right across the underside of the Tycore board, using Vinamul 3252 coated fabric tape. Loop the excess at each end of the cotton tape and stitch to create four handles for safe movement into storage containers.

3. Place the parka with its internal supports centrally on the board.

4. Stitch the ends of each cuff ring and the cuff-to-cuff and both cuff-to-hem tapes to the board using a red thread.

5. Place parka secured to board in box custom made to size and secure triangular blocks of Ethafoam covered in Tyvek to the board at each corner using wide cotton tape with Velcro tabs to ensure that the board cannot move forward within the box when the board is tilted. [Fig. 6] N.B. Every gut parka is unique and these guidelines should be adapted as required. Some gut parkas may be too fragile or damaged to enable the use of this method.

Figure 6. The finished support

Figure 6. The finished support

Adapted From

Inuit Parkas Made of Gut: Their storage and transport at the British Museum, ICON Newsletter November 2014, Issue 55, pp.30-32


gut parkas, storage, transport


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