Tapestry Repair & Cleaning

A tapestry is a section of cloth with a design formed by varied colours of yarn as it is woven on the loom. The earliest tapestries date from the 3rd century BC. There was a resurgence of interest in the Middle Ages, and tapestries were hung in manor houses and castles all over Europe -- mainly for decoration but also to keep out drafts. They often depicted hunting scenes, battles or symbols, such as a coat of arms. Hobbyists have kept the art of tapestry alive using small looms. If you are lucky enough to find a vintage tapestry in need of repair, have it assessed by an expert. If it is not valuable enough to warrant professional repair, there are ways to bring your tapestry back to life.

Secure the muslin or pantyhose over the vacuum cleaner nozzle. Vacuum the tapestry lightly on both sides to remove dust.

Fill the sink or tub with lukewarm water; it needs to be large enough to take the full width of the tapestry. Add some mild soap and agitate the water. Carefully immerse the tapestry. Gently squeeze the tapestry and move it around. Let the water out, leaving the tapestry in the receptacle. Run more lukewarm water and continue washing the tapestry. Repeat twice or until there are no soap bubbles in the water. Let the water out but leave the tapestry so excess water can drain.

Lift the tapestry out and place flat on a bed of towels. Put another towel on top and press down carefully to squeeze the moisture out. Replace the damp towels with dry ones and allow the tapestry to dry.

Select yarns or threads similar to those in your tapestry. Always use natural wool or cotton, never synthetic. Try to match up the colours.

Repair holes or worn areas by hand stitching a small square of linen to the back of the tapestry to cover the hole. Turn the tapestry to the right side. Examine the design closely and make matching running stitches across the width of the hole, stitching into undamaged fabric. If the hole is large, you also can stitch into the linen backing. When you have covered the hole, begin to darn across the stitches you just made, weaving the new thread through them until the repair is complete.

Cover the tapestry with a clean towel and iron on a low setting.


If you intend to hang the tapestry, consider sewing a linen backing fabric onto it. Add a sleeve to hold a wooden dowel that can be secured to the wall. Hang tapestries in natural daylight to show off their beauty, but avoid direct sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • Piece of muslin or pantyhose
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Tub or sink
  • Mild soap for delicate fabrics
  • Towels
  • Flat drying area
  • Linen fabric
  • Yarn or thread
  • Tapestry needles
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
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About the Author

Beverley Gee began her freelance writing career in 1982. She earned a National Diploma in information technology and business studies at Coleg Glan Hafren, Cardiff, U.K. She has written for several U.K. publications including the "South Wales Echo" and her local newspaper, "The Diary." She is also a qualified reflexologist.