Vintage and antique quilts are not only precious to a collector but to the family member who owns them and keeps each quilt close to their heart.
My Grandmother taught me to quilt when I was a young girl. Because those lessons were so valuable, today, I was able to design, sew, and quilt my own family heirlooms of tomorrow. Grandma left also many beautifully designed quilts of all colors and sizes for her family to cherish. The double wedding ring, I have on my bed or the small pink baby quilt that I now use for my newest granddaughter.
The importance of keeping a quilt in good shape is to keep the investment of an heirloom for my family. Preserving each is not only important for the quilt but a responsibility of its owner. Here are some useful tips that will be beneficial in retaining the quilt’s beauty and the workmanship of the quilter for years to come:
- Be aware the types of materials that are in the quilts. Many quilts were made with old clothing instead of purchasing materials from quilt shops and therefore a single quilt may have a multitude of types of fabrics. For example: Grandpa’s old silk tie may be in the same vintage quilt and with a strip of cotton fabric from Grandma’s dress or apron. Wools are often found in quilts. Their beauty adds to the color and texture, but the mixture of others fabrics brings with it many challenges in years to come for caring for these materials.
- Keeping your old or antique quilt clean is important. Regular dry cleaners are not equipped to wash or clean most antique quilts. Using household cleaners on silk quilts will cause permanent damage or your will find the silk disintegrate. Vintage quilts with stains have more value than those with patches of cleaned fabrics. Be gentle even with your new quilts. Be sure to eliminate any harsh chemicals. Hot water and overheated dryers are not friendly to quilts.
- When not in use, storing a quilt for any length of time, choose an acid free box. Never wrap quilts in plastic. Keep the quilts separated from each other or in other words from touching each other when you store them. Find a location away from direction sunlight, and humidity. The best average temperature for storage is about 70∘F about 21∘C.
- Keep your quilts away from pets. Even if you trust them, remember that these quilts can’t be replaced, treat them with respect.
- An option to storing is to hang the antique or vintage quilts. Displaying the quilts can add beauty to any room’s décor. Be sure to remember that direct sunlight will damage the quilts over time, so keep them away from windows. Consider the size and weight of the quilt you plan to hang. Stretching and tearing may occur in vintage quilts, so an option for displaying might be to use a rack.
As in all things of beauty that we keep for generations to come, write down information about your quilts. These pieces of history stored with our heirlooms and sent on to our family; bring quilting to life for years to come.