As the winter months come to an end, your quilted creations should be put away and cared for so that when you bring them out again next year, they are in the same great shape they are in now. Through experience, advice and just plain common sense, we have come up with some tips to share with you that will help you keep your quilt beautiful. As a wise woman once said, “Smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from OTHER people’s mistakes.”
1. We can’t control the humidity, but we can control where our quilts are stored. Damp air can cause the fibers in your quilt to mildew and rot. The ideal humidity is 45 – 55% so the attic or the basement wouldn’t be a good place to store your quilt. Find a place with cool, dry air and good ventilation, and put your quilt there.
2. Critters are also known to be called PESTS for a reason. When choosing a place to keep your quilt, remember to think about how attractive that same place might be to a mouse or other rodent. Again, the attic or basement or even the garage is not a good place to store your quilt because it is also where you would most likely find those pesky animals as well as moths and other insects that like to feast on fibrous material.
3. Your quilt doesn’t need a tan so keep it in the dark. Think about how faded a towel gets after being used at the pool for summer. Your quilt will fade and lose its luster. Quilts with dark shades of fabric are even more sensitive to the ultraviolet rays from the sun. If you don’t have to dry your quilt out on the line, don’t. Though it may be reminiscent of the old days, you don’t want your quilt to look like it came from the pioneer days.
4. Keep it flat or roll it up, but whatever you do, don’t FOLD it! If you want your quilt to be crease-free and safe, lay it out on top of an unused bed and cover it with a cotton sheet. If all your beds are currently occupied, roll it up and stick it in a cardboard tube. (There are rules about cardboard too which you will read about next!) Keeping your quilt folded for long periods of time can create creases that are hard to get out. If you absolutely MUST fold your quilts, don’t stack them (this makes the creases even harder to get out). Also, unfold and refold the quilts back differently every few months to avoid severe creasing.
5. Cardboard boxes are not your quilt’s friend… at least not on their own they aren’t. If you decide to store your quilt in a cardboard box or tube, make sure you place either a cotton sheet or acid-free tissue paper around it. Using these little tricks will allow the fabric to breathe while still keeping it safe from dust and moisture build up. Never, ever wrap your quilt in plastic. If you do, your quilt will be exposed to harmful chemicals that will cause your fabric to fall apart. If you use dry cleaner’s bags, heavy duty garbage bags, garment bags, Styrofoam, or newspapers you might as well throw your quilt in the trash because any of those “storage” choices mean death for your precious quilt.
6. Unfinished wood is Unacceptable. The inside of a typical drawer or chest is usually unfinished, meaning, there is nothing protecting the wood. When the wood is unprotected, so is your quilt. If you have to store your quilt in a wooden drawer or chest, you should seal the wood with a polyurethane varnish and then line it with unbleached, washed muslin or acid-free paper. Sounds like a lot of work to me… find an unused bed ASAP!!