Quilts are a labor of love. We make them as gifts for friends, loved ones and our own families. We don’t think twice about spending hours bringing our ideas to life. But once we’ve finished our quilts, we forget to do one very important thing: store them properly.
It’s important to educate yourself, your loved ones and your friends on proper quilt storage. When taken care of properly, quilts can be passed down through generations.
What Not to Do
First, let’s talk about what not to do.
No Plastic Bags or Containers
If you’re currently storing your quilts in a garbage bag in the attic, remove them immediately. Plastic containers and bags trap in moisture, which leads to mold and mildew growth. Moisture can also cause the fibers in the quilt to break down, leaving staining and discoloration behind.
It’s never a good idea to store your quilts with mothballs. Mothballs leave behind a strong odor and they contain an ingredient that will break down the quilt’s fibers.
No Direct Sunlight
Exposure to UV rays can fade the fabric’s color over time and damage the fabric.
No Hope or Cedar Chests
Many people make the mistake of storing their quilts in cedar or hope chests. But raw wood creates an acid that wears away the fabric in your quilts.
No Basements or Attics
Quilts should be stored in areas of the home where the temperature and humidity levels are consistent. That means the basement and attic are off limits. Both of these areas tend to have higher humidity levels and extreme temperature fluctuations.
Avoid storing too many folded quilts on top of each other. The weight from the fabric can cause serious creases that are difficult or impossible to get out.
No Cardboard or Newspapers
Quilts should never be stored in cardboard boxes or with newspapers. Cardboard soaks up moisture, which can damage the fabric. Newspaper ink can easily transfer onto the fabric. Both newspapers and cardboard also attract insects, which can eat away at your quilts.
No Colored Tissue Paper
Acid-free tissue paper can serve as a barrier between quilts and wood or metal, which can damage the fabric.
But it’s important to avoid using colored tissue paper. Colored tissue paper contains dyes that can transfer onto the fabric, causing stains and discoloration.
How to Store a Quilt Properly
We’ve covered some important “don’ts.” Let’s discuss the right way to store quilts.
It’s important to remember that quilts should be stored in a place that is:
- Free of moisture
With these rules in mind, here are some quilt storage ideas:
An Unused Bed
The simplest way to store quilts is to place them on unused beds. Bedrooms offer consistent temperature and humidity levels, which are ideal for storing quilts.
Placing them on unused beds also helps prevent permanent creasing from folding. It’s possible to lay multiple quilts on an unused bed. Just be sure to rotate the stack periodically.
Specially designed quilt racks can also be used to hang your quilts in a safe way. Racks can often fit several quilts, but it’s still important to rotate and refold each one every month or so.
Racks comes in a wide range of material, but most quilters prefer wood. If you use a wooden rack, make sure that you treat the wood to create a barrier between the quilts and the wood. Otherwise, you may wind up with brown spots where the fabric came in contact with the wood.
If you’d like to display your beautiful quilts, you can hang them on walls. If possible, choose a wall that does not get direct sunlight. Even indirect sunlight can fade a quilt’s fabric over time.
Ideally, you want to rotate your hanging quilts to prevent fading and preserve the fabric’s integrity.
If you prefer to store your quilts away – maybe you have a large collection – then rolling is better than folding. Rolling will prevent creases.
Ideally, you should place a white sheet on top of the quilt and roll towards the sheet layer. Next, roll the roll into another white sheet to protect both sides of the quilt.
Ladders and Cabinets
Ladders and cabinets offer alternative display options for your quilts. Quilts look especially beautiful hung over ladder rungs. They also look nice folded in cabinets.
Again, it’s important to refold these quilts every so often to prevent creases.
If storing in wooden cabinets, make sure there’s a barrier between the quilts and the wood to prevent staining. You can treat the wood to create a barrier, or you can line the shelves with white acid-free tissue paper.
Cedar Chests with Cotton Pillow Cases
Cedar chests are not ideal places to store your quilts. The acid from the wood can easily transfer to your quilt, causing discoloration and staining.
But if a cedar chest is your only storage option or you really want to use the chest for this purpose, then slip your quilts into cotton pillowcases first. You can also line the interior of the chest with Tyvek. Just makes sure the text side of the Tyvek is facing away from the quilts.
Textile Storage Kit
For antique and heirloom quilts, textile storage kits are a great option. These kits contain acid-free materials that allow you to store your quilts safely.
Archival storage may not be necessary for new quilts, but if you have a quilt that has been in your family for generations, this storage option can help keep the fabric looking its best.