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Clothing and Textiles

Directions for Making a Padded Hanger

1. Assemble the following materials:

  • A sturdy hanger. See below for types of hangers to use. (The hanger should not be longer than the width of the shoulders of the garment. It may need to be cut down to size for a child's garment.)
  • Polyester quilt batting (thermal bonded)
  • Poly/cotton orthopedic stockinette, 4-inch width
  • Scissors

Metal, wood or plastic hangers can be used:

  • A metal hanger has several drawbacks: It may not be sturdy enough for heavy garments, it may rust, and arranging sufficient padding on it so that the wire does not "telegraph" its shape to the garment may be difficult. You may be able to overcome some of these disadvantages by using a group of wire hangers together and wrapping them with aluminum foil to protect against rust.
  • Wood is a better choice but has the disadvantage of emitting small amounts of vapors (volatile organic acids) that may damage textile fibers over time. This problem can be overcome to some extent by wrapping the hanger with aluminum foil. Wood hangers are easy to cut, so length can be adjusted to accommodate small garments.
  • Plastic hangers are a good choice because they are wider (thicker) than wire, are often made of a chemically inert material (polystyrene) and can be cut for the width of small garments.

Image how to wrap a padded hanger2. Wrap the quilt batting around the hanger, going from left to right and then back to the left. Continue wrapping the batting around the hanger until the batting is 3 to 4 inches thick. You can vary the thickness to fit the item (i.e., thicker for heavy men's coats, thinner for children's garments).

3. Cut a piece of stockinette 8 inches longer than the hanger. Make one very small cut to create a hole at the center of the length of stockinette, or poke a hole using a sharp pointed implement, such as an ice pick.

4. Pull the stockinette over the padding until you reach the shank of the hanger. Leave 4 inches extending beyond the end of the hanger. Be careful that the padding does not get compressed or "bunch up" as you pull on the stockinette.

5. Pull up the stockinette and slide the shank of the hanger through the hole.

6. Continue pulling the stockinette over the padding on the second half of the hanger until it extends 4 inches beyond the end of the hanger.

Image of a padded hanger 7. Tuck the cut ends of the stockinette back in on themselves so they are no longer visible and the padding at both ends is covered.

8. You're done! You have made a padded hanger that will hold garments without making a damaging crease in the shoulders.

The Conservation Outreach Program of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) distributes this information as a public service. Each application must be evaluated individually, and materials and techniques selected that best suit the condition of the object and how it is to be used. If you have questions about a particular application, please contact the MHS Conservation Outreach program at: 651-259-3465, 1-800-657-3773, FAX at 651-296-9961 or email at conservationhelp@mnhs.org.