Nothing is more disappointing than rooting around in closets and trunks to haul your seasonal or holiday quilts out of storage for the family visit only to find them creased, wrinkled and unwilling to lie flat.
Or chewed up. Mouse holes. Eewww.
Or for them to be so musty that you, in your pre-visit-clean-the-entire-house-fervor, have to do something to refresh them. Who has time for that!?
Store your quilts properly, prolong their lives, and make your own life easier.
1: Be sure your quilts are as clean as possible before putting them away. (Watch for an upcoming article on cleaning quilts to help you do it correctly.) Air them out if they’ve been doing bed duty.
2: Store your quilts flat or rolled. A great place for quilts-on-vacation is in your guest bed, flat, front side down. You can use pool noodles (those long, brightly colored foam things little kids use to float with while swimming; around a dollar each at your favorite discount store) for rolling your quilts, front side out (this keep any wrinkles on the back side). Secure them gently at each end with ribbon or fabric strips. Store rolled quilts horizontally.
3: Avoid plastics of all kind at all times in quilt storage. I’m talking those vacuum-the-air-out storage bags, people. And those giant zipper-lock bags from the grocery store. The ONE exception is if you will be transporting the quilt and rain is predicted. Keep your textiles, like your powder, dry. Once they are safe, pitch the plastic, which promotes mold, mildew, and deterioration.
4. That cedar chest you’ve inherited? Use it for something other than your quilts (or wedding dress, for that matter). Wood leaches acid over time and stains fabric. If you have cedar shelving (or any other wood shelves), line them with aluminum foil before placing your quilts on those surfaces.
5. Folding quilts is the last resort, and if you must fold your quilts, then you must re-fold them every three months. Avoid folding them along the same lines (thirds, quarters, halves) or in the same direction (front side in or backside in). Use acid-free tissue paper to stuff the folds (to avoid wrinkles) and then place them in acid-free boxes. Don’t put these boxes where rodents live (common sense).
6. For quilts you display, follow these principles: Rotate them if they are hanging so gravity won’t be a constant pull in one direction. If that doesn’t work for your design, take the quilt down and let it rest horizontally for a few months. For quilts folded and stacked, say, in a display cabinet, refold them every three months. Quilts draped over chairs should be redraped periodically as if folded.
by Andi Reynolds
Following almost five years as the executive book editor for the American Quilter’s Society, Andi Reynolds retired and has resumed the freelance life. She spends her time writing, quilting, cooking, and obeying the commands of her large dogs Lucky and Mousse. Her husband Dennis is the beloved co-leader of the pack. They live in Paducah, Kentucky.