Once you make a beautiful quilt, you want it to stay beautiful – which means taking a few precautions to make sure it remains in good condition. Read below for a few tips on caring for quilts, and you’ll be on your way to properly preserving these handmade creations.
If there’s a spot in your house that’s constantly being hit with direct sunlight, that’s not the perfect place for your quilts. The Greater Lakes Quilt Center recommends keeping quilts in a darker place, so that the fabrics won’t fade under the sun’s rays.Of course, this can be a bit tricky, because the same site also says that humid places are bad for quilts as well. So, even though an attic or basement is nice and dark, they are probably way too humid to safely keep a quilt dry and in pristine condition.
If you can help it, try not to wash your quilts very often – as these handmade creations can be fragile. Several websites, including Woman’s Day, suggest vacuuming quilts rather than washing them – with must-wash scenarios calling for gentle hand wash or even a visit to a quilt-washing specialist. (Some people see dry cleaning and delicate machine-washing as okay washing methods, while others stick strictly to vacuuming.) Always let quilts air dry rather than throwing them in the dryer with heat.Consider a few things before going into wash mode, starting with washing fabric before you make the quilt. Since dye tends to bleed on a first wash, you’ll get this step out of the way before the entire quilt is made.If you’re washing a finished quilt, you’ll want to check the entire piece for loose stitches or tears before cleaning it. Finally, test the fabric by wiping different pieces with a damp white cloth – if color comes off, you’ll have to take great care in washing it.
There are lots of good ways to carefully store quilts, including vacuum sealing or putting a spare quilt on the end of a bed so it doesn’t get tons of creases. If you want to wrap a quilt or put it in a storage container though, just make sure that those materials are acid-free.The National Quilt Museum warns that acid is bad for textiles, explaining that raw woods often used to make storage chests can contain these types of acids. Many resources warn against plastic bags, newspaper, and cardboard boxes as storage vessels, too.
Attics and basements aren’t good places to store quilts anyway, and they also aren’t the only places in your home where insects and rodents could find themselves. If you’re storing your quilt in some type of container or chest, check on it periodically to make sure bugs and mice haven’t started nesting there.
The GLQC also recommends labeling your quilt with pertinent information (quilter’s name, date, etc.) so that its history can be maintained. With many antique quilts, we just have to estimate when it was made – labels can help future generations know exactly when it was crafted!
Antique quilts require a bit more TLC, mostly when it comes to washing, so take extra care to research exactly how to clean older quilts depending on their fabric and condition. Consider taking these types of quilts to a specialist rather than washing them at home.
With these tips in mind, you’ll have a good foundation for keeping your gorgeous quilts in good condition for years to come.