Quilt Storage

Stack of Quilts - Haiti by Hand
Photo Credit: Haiti by Hand

This is a guest post by Emilie Kahn

Storing A Beloved Quilt

After spending countless hours creating a quilt and displaying it with love, the time will eventually come that it will need to be put into storage. How you store your quilt is very important to the life of the quilt. Improper storage can mean a bitter end for any quilt – often resulting in mildew, mites, and rips or decaying of the fabric.

It is important that all of the components for your quilt’s storage be acid free. This means archival boxes or tubes, sealed wood chests or shelves, acid-free tissue paper, untreated and washed muslin and cotton batting. Never store a quilt in plastic, this traps moisture in with the quilt and cause irreversible damage.

The best way to store a quilt is rolled (unless it is fragile or has a lot of 3-D detail)

This method avoids creases which can lead to weak points in the body of the quilt. Here is the process:

  • Acquire an acid-free tube which is longer than your quilt by a few inches. It is important that the diameter of the tube be a minimum of four inches.
  • Wrap the tube in a layer of cotton quilt batting and then acid free tissue or muslin.
  • Lay your quilt out on a clean cotton sheet, face down.
  • Begin to gently and loosely roll the quilt on to the tube with the back of the quilt on the inside.
  • Cover the roll with another layer of acid-free tissue or cotton to help keep the dust out.
  • Place the rolled quilt into its storage location, under a bed can be an excellent option, with the ends of the tube placed on blocks so the quilt is suspended.

If storing a quilt on a roll isn’t an option, folded storage is your best bet

  • It is important that the first fold be on the horizontal axis of the quilt (this would be parallel to the floor when the quilt is hanging on the wall), this way if any creases do occur they are more likely to come out without steaming when the quilt is hung.
  • Fold the quilt in thirds.
  • Pad the interior of each fold in the quilt with crumpled acid-free tissue paper.  If none is available, use scraps of cotton batting rolled in muslin. Padding the folds will reduce creases in the quilt.
  • Wrap the folded quilt in acid-free tissue paper, muslin, or a cotton sheet.
  • Store the quilt in an archival box with reinforced corners.
  • If you are going to store the quilt on a shelf or in a wood chest, make sure the wood has been sealed with either polyurethane or paint so that the naturally occurring acids in the wood don’t seep into your quilt. If the wood is untreated line the areas the quilt will touch with acid-free tissue paper or muslin.

Every quilt in storage should be taken out and aired at least once a year and then re-rolled or folded.

These tips are for quilts that have been created more recently and while they may work for a beloved antique quilt, it may be best to consult a quilt conservation professional.

Here is some additional information on handling and storing old quilts: The Care of Quilts by University of Nebraska

Happy Quilting!

Emilie Kahn

If you enjoyed this article, please visit my blog at www.SeeSawSew.com 

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