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Tyvek: the new duct tape

By: Kristen Cnossen

New this summer for the Costume Collection project at MdHS is the use of Tyvek for making stuffed tubes or pillows called “sleeves,” “pant legs,” and “snakes.” Previously, this material was used strictly for the making of “slings”- lengths of Tyvek sheeting that articles of clothing would be placed on top of in order to make removing the articles from their packing boxes easier and safer.

Tyvek is a brand trademarked by DuPont most often seen in the use of “housewrap:” a white material used during construction to protect buildings. ( Tyvek is made out of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers – basically, a synthetic plastic material that is extremely strong, but easily cut with scissors, light weight, chemically resistant, will let water vapor through but not liquid water, tear resistant, dimensionally stable, and (of special interest for our work) has a neutral pH. ( Tyvek is used for many other things, including coveralls for minor chemical protection worn by mechanics, oil industry workers, painters, laboratory, and cleanroom workers. (

We use the light weight Tyvek material by hand-stitching two sheets together, turning this inside out (the smooth side facing the textile), and stuffing it with polyfil. This creates a long-lasting, archival pillow that can be used to stuff sleeves, pants, dresses, skirts, and anywhere a crease (and thus a weak point) might be created when packing. The pluses of using these Tyvek pillows over tissue alone is that heavier fabric (i.e. wool) cannot flatten it over time, fragile linings (i.e. silk and glazed cotton) will be less likely to tear on the material, stuffing takes less time and resources, and removing and repacking the articles is simpler. The negative to the Tyvek pillows is they take time to create, but we interns are all too happy to come in early or on our days off in order to make them as sewing is a rather calming past-time.

Related fun fact: A wedding gown called Bella the Bride made completely out of discarded Tyvek for medical packaging was revealed at MD&M East Expo, New York City, in June of 2016.

References and further reading:

DuPort, Copyright 2016:

Bella the Bride:


Product Guide Specifications:

Special interest: recycling Tyvek: Youtube: DIY Tyvek Stuff Sack by MOD;