3 Tips On How To Preserve Antique Quilts
If you're an avid quilt collector, you know the importance of keeping your quilt collection in a tip-top shape. An antique quilt is an investment, a family heirloom, and a window into our past. If you own antique quilts preserving them is your duty and your responsibility. Here are three very useful tips for guarding and retaining the beauty of your quilt treasures.
1. Displaying – Are you a big fan of displaying family quilts on walls? If you like hanging them up as part of your room décor, you will need to remember that even the most modern, brightly-colored quilt will fade if put in direct sunlight; try to imagine what a disaster that will be for an antique quilt. To avoid damaging your precious heirloom keep it away from windows and direct sunlight. If you have a very large quilt, or a very heavy one, you should consider buying a quilt rack to avoid stretching and tearing of the fabric. Even baby quilts can benefit from hanging on a quilt rack instead of by thumbtacks. However, if you are determined to have the quilt on the wall, the safest thing to do is to sew a sleeve to the top side of the quilt and run a tube through it.
2. Cleaning – Households and regular dry cleaners are not equipped to wash and clean antique quilts. Do not attempt any DIY cleaning techniques especially with silk quilts as they will disintegrate in front of your eyes. A vintage quilt with stains has value; a pile of clean fabric patches does not! Even newer quilts should be treated gently – washing machines, harsh chemicals and dryers are not their best friends.
3. Storing – Storing should be done with just as much care. They do need to breathe, so plastic bags are not an option. Instead, choose an acid-free box and keep quilts from touching each other. Use acid-free paper in the folds and air and refold unused quilts at least 6 times a year. Museums store their quilts by wrapping them around a foil wrapped cardboard tube, and then covering them with a cotton sheet. Keep them at a temperature around 70 degrees and avoid humidity and direct sunlight. Quilts are delicate – even baby quilts which are generally sturdier can suffer a lot of damage if not treated properly. Don't put heirloom quilts near pets or babies. If you can't trust them to treat them well, don't let them near.
If you are looking to sell your antique quilt or simply curious about its value, don't trust just anyone to appraise it but seek the opinion of a certified quilt appraiser. Also, keep a written account of the quilt's history. It’s a great way to pass the quilt’s life story to the next generations.