Metal coat hangers should be avoided, plastic or wood hangers are preferable. Hangers should be padded to prevent creasing and to reduce stress on shoulder seams. Fragile or damaged textiles should never be hung, rather they should be put in flat storage.
Simple Padded Hanger
A simple padded hanger can be made using polyethylene pipe insulation over a wood coat hanger. Pipe insulation comes in various lengths, and is availible in most hardware stores. It is usually from 3 to 6 feet in length and is pre-slit down it's length. Small diameter insulation intended for 1/2 or 3/4 inch pipe can be used for light textiles such as shirts and jackets. Heavy greatcoats may require larger diameter insulation. This type of simple padded hanger was developed by conservators at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
The pipe insulation is cut for length, allowing a 1 1/2 to 2 inch excess at each end. A small V notch is cut in the center of the insulation and the neck of the hanger is passed through.
The insulation is pressed down onto the hanger, the weight of the jacket will keep it in place.
The lower bar on a two part hanger can be padded for hanging trousers, belts or sashes.
Hanging textiles may be covered with a cotton cover to protect from light and dust. Sealable garment bags should not be used as a micro climate can be created inside. Unbleached cotton sheeting is the preferred material for a cover, however a washed cotton bed sheet hung over the textile "poncho style" is very effective. The open sides of the cover can be closed with cotton twill tape ties or by rustproof safety pins.
The only drawback to padded hangers is that they take up considerably more space on a coatrack than plain hangers. This rack once held 126 jackets and shirts on unpadded hangers, it now holds only 30. Ideally, the spacing should be looser and the jackets not in contact with each other.