Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quilt Care


Quilts are treasures to be handed down through the
generations.  Not only that, but handmade quilts 
(whether old or new) were fashioned with loving, 
skilled hands.  Quilts are an historic art form which 
needs to be preserved.  Here are some tips on how 
to preserve and care for your treasured quilts...

-Sentimental Preservation:
  • Take photos of your quilts, then store them on CDs in a safe location. 
  • Consider having quilts appraised, especially heirloom or sentimental quilts.
  • Appraisers:
  • Valuable quilts should be included in your homeowners insurance policy.

-Cleaning Your Quilt:
  • Before even considering washing a "more durable" quilt, test dark fabrics for colorfastness. You can do this by rubbing them with white cotton moistened with hot water. If the test cloth remains white, then proceed with washing. If the test cloth shows color, do not machine wash (even in cold water). 
  • Common laundry detergents are hard on quilts; they accelerate wear and fading of fabrics. Use them only to wash everyday quilts.  Even then, it is best to use cold water and a very mild detergent on the delicate cycle.  Do not wash quilts too often, it can shorten their life.
  • To dry a machine washed quilt, it's best put outdoors, laid out flat on top of a sheet.  Secure another sheet over top of the quilt to protect it.
  • Dry cleaning is not recommended unless done by a professional specializing in quilt cleaning and is recommended by your local city museum.
  • Sometimes a quilt that seems dirty, might be dusty.  Try gently vacuuming on a low setting with a small, soft brush attachment.
  • If your quilt seems sort of stale, air it out on an overcast, dry, and breezy day. Spread the quilt out in the grass on top of some clean towels for a few hours.
  • The above two methods (vacuuming and airing out) are the only safe methods for cleaning delicate, antique or vintage quilts.  Get advice from a museum professional if more is needed.
  • Always use your best judgement.  If you still aren't sure how to clean a particular quilt, then don't.  Do additional research and consult a professional.
-Handling Your Quilts:
  • Wash hands frequently or wear cotton gloves while handling.
  • Remember, remove sharp jewelry before handling quilts.
  • Be very careful to not smoke, eat or drink around your quilts.
  • Keep your quilts away from any damp areas while handling.
  • Do not place tools, light fixtures, books, etc. on top of quilts.
  • Try your best to keep pets off your quilts (good luck, I know).

-Labeling Your Quilt:  
  • Part of good care of your quilt includes keeping with it relevant information.  
  • Quilt labels are an important part of history and can add value to your quilt.  
  • The label should include the artist name, date/location made and the pattern.  
  • Labels can be used as identification, just in case your quilt is lost or stolen. 
  • Labels can be quilted right into the quilt design itself, the most secure option. 
  • A piece of embroidered cotton label can be sewn on after the quilt's completion.  
  • Such labels can be located on either the front or back of a quilt.
  • Labeling information:  

-Displaying Your Quilt: 
  • You may display "less delicate" quilts on a bed, away from direct sunlight.
  • You may hang quilts for display, but please keep the following tips in mind:
  1. Sew a fabric sleeve 4"wide x Width of quilt top's edge for hanging.
  2. Never nail, pin, staple or tack the quilt directly to the wall.
  3. Don't hang quilts in direct sunlight or under fluorescent lights.
  4. Never use clip-on metal curtain hangers to hang quilts up.
  5. If using a wooden pole, be sure it's treated with polyurethane.
  6. Hung quilts need rested or rotated periodically to avoid stress.

-Storing Your Quilts: 
  • Make sure that your quilts are clean before you store them away.
  • Keep your quilts in a dry, dark location out of direct sunlight.
  • Avoid storing your quilts in the attic due to the high heat.
  • Avoid storing quilts in basements because of dampness.
  • Keep quilts out of areas where there may be insects or rodents.
  • Never store your quilts in plastic bags or cardboard boxes.
  • Quilts are best kept neatly folded in cotton or muslin bags.
  • Do not stack too many quilts on top of each other, due to creasing.
  • Twice yearly, take from storage, air out, and re-fold in different ways.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you preserve your treasured quilts.

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