Nebraska Cooperative Extension NF02-524
[Previous Category] [Catalog] [Order Info]Antique textiles, including quilts, are very fragile. Excessive handling and washing can hasten deterioration. Light quickly fades colors and weakens natural fibers. Careful control of handling, storage, and display conditions can prolong the life of quilts. The care and precautions you take with your quilts depend in part on whether you want to preserve your quilts for future generations or whether you want to display and/or use the quilts in your home. To preserve a quilt indefinitely requires ideal storage conditions. The ideal conditions include storage of the quilt flat and completely unfolded in total darkness at a constant temperature of 50°F to 60°F and a relative humidity of about 50 percent. Most private quilt collectors, as well as some museums, do not have ideal storage conditions; however, there are many ways to prolong the life of your quilts, even those you use or display.
|Figure 1. Quilts may be stored by loosely rolling them onto large cardboard tubes which have been covered with cotton or non-resin treated polyester batting and unbleached muslin. The rolled quilt is then covered with acid-free tissue or washed cotton muslin. Use this method for flat quilts. Do not fold a quilt in half and then roll it.|
During storage, protect textiles from direct contact with wood (including cedar chests), regular cardboard, and paper. As they age, these items give off acid by products which are harmful to textiles. Layers of acid- free tissue or washed unbleached cotton muslin can be used to line shelves, boxes or cedar chests, and thereby prevent direct contact of quilts with wood or cardboard (Figure 2). The cotton muslin should be removed and washed yearly and then used again. The acid-free tissue should be replaced at least once every five years to retain its neutral state since it also becomes acidic with age. Avoid colored tissue papers as most are not colorfast and can stain textiles if moistened. For supplies such as acid-free paper and archival storage boxes, contact an area conservation supply, paper or art supply business, or local museum.
|Figure 2. When storing quilts, avoid direct contact with wood, paper or cardboard. If they are stored in regular cardboard or wooden boxes or on wooden shelves, line them with acid-free or unbleached cotton muslin first. Use acid-free tissue crumpled into tubes to cushion the folds of the quilt as well.|
Quilts were meant to be used and displayed. However, improper display can greatly shorten their life. Some precautions can reduce the dangers that display may pose for a quilt. Avoid displaying a quilt in direct sunlight or in rooms that are lighted most of the time. Do not display them on an outside wall or near a heating vent. Never use nails, staples, tacks or pins to hang a quilt. This creates severe stress in small areas, often breaking threads and causing rust spots. The weight of the quilt should be evenly distributed over its entire width when hanging (Figure 3). For very sturdy quilts, a cloth sleeve or casing sewn carefully with large stitches (l/4 inch or longer) to the back of the quilt will hold a rod or slat that will distribute the strain evenly across the quilt. The casing should be made of a double layer of fabric so that the rod or slat will not touch the quilt but instead will slide between the two layers of casing fabric.
|Figure 3. When displaying a quilt, evenly distribute its weight over the entire width. With sturdy quilts, a cloth sleeve or casing can be added to the back of the quilt. The casing should be made of a double layer of fabric so that the rod will not touch the quilt fabric but instead will slide between the two layers of casing fabric.|
|NF93-137||Conservation of Textile Items|
|NF02-525||Care of Quilts-Cleaning|
Electronic version issued August 2002
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8
and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. Elbert C. Dickey, Dean and Director of Cooperative
Extension, University of Nebraska, Institute of Agriculture and Natural
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension
educational programs abide with the non-discrimination policies of the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the United States Department of
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension educational programs abide with the non-discrimination policies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.