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Tips for preserving antique quilts

April 10, 2003

Preserving vintage quilts hands a wonderful gift to the next generation, quilt historian Fawn Valentine says. Here are her tips:

  • Avoid washing them, including dry cleaning or handwashing. Water and other solvents can weaken the fibers or cause the dye to run.

  • Keep out of sunlight. Light can fade fabric colors and affect fibers.

  • Don't store quilts in plastic. Quilts need ventilation. "One of the best places to store quilts is on a spare bed," Valentine said. "Just keep the blinds drawn."

  • If you must fold a quilt, fold it into thirds. Folding quilts down the middle affects the design in the center of the quilt.

  • Pad the folds so the fold is not so sharp. Crisp creasing can break aging fibers, leaving a permanent crease in the quilt.

  • Avoid storing quilts in a basement (too damp) or attic (too hot). Quilts do best in steady temperature.

  • If you have a quilt you really care about, keep it from household pets.
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