In addition to the advice for storing most quilts, some additional things should be taken into consideration with older quilts. Fragile quilts especially, deserve some extra care.
Do I need to wear white gloves to touch my antique quilt?
While it is not necessary to wear white gloves to touch your own quilts, it is wise to take some precautions in handling your quilts to keep them from becoming soiled. Here are some basic tips:
Wash hands; remove sharp jewelry and tie back long hair before handling textiles.
Do not smoke, eat or drink around textiles
Keep quilts on clean dry surfaces. Do not place textiles directly on, in or next to cardboard, unsealed wood or non-rag (acidic) paper.
Do I need to use acid free paper or boxes to store my quilts?
While you can use acid free paper or boxes, you can also use clean cotton sheets or washed, unbleached muslin. You’ll need to determine the level of care that your quilt requires. If you plan on preserving it for many more years, the best option may be to invest in archival safe boxes.
Where is the best place to store my quilt?
Store textiles in a dark, dry place. Attics, basements and garages should be avoided. Avoid any storage area that is exposed to extremes in temperatures.
KEEP QUILTS OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT. The ultra-violet rays in daylight and fluorescent light break down fabric dyes and speed up the oxidation of fibers.
Keep textiles away from insects, mice and other vermin. (Do not use moth crystals when there is insect infestation).
Quilts can be stored flat, folded or rolled around full-length wooden dowels or cardboard tubing. If space is at a premium or if your quilts contain thick stuffed work, the folded method of storage is preferable. Don’t stack too many folded quilts on top of each other or else the weight of all the quilts will create creases that are hard or impossible to get out. For the same reason, unfold and refold your quilts periodically to avoid severe creasing. It is recommended to use muslin tubes, acid free tissue paper, or pantyhose stuffed with batting in the fold areas to protect the fibers from creasing.
If you roll your quilts, you can use many products as an inner base. One popular item is to use a swim “noodle” from your local store. It easily cuts down to the correct size. Before you roll your quilt on , however be sure to put a layer between it and the quilt. These Tyvek sleeves or cotton muslin work well. Then of course you would want to protect the outside of your quilt roll. Again cotton muslin or these Tyvek bags work well.
Can’t I store textiles in plastic bags ?
No! Plastics should NEVER be used for storage. They contain harmful vapors, which contribute to the deterioration of the fabrics. Plastics that are particularly harmful: dry cleaner’s bags, heavy-duty garbage bags, garment bags and Styrofoam.
Tyvek is a good alternative and is used by many museums because it is lightweight yet strong; breathable, yet water-, chemical-, puncture-, tear-, and abrasion-resistant. Many also use this to line cedar chests or shelving.
Can I keep my quilts in a cedar chest?
Cedar, along with other woods, secretes oils that can damage fabric. If you must keep your quilts in a wooden container, it should be sealed with a protective coating of polyurethane varnish, then lined with unbleached, washed muslin or acid-free paper. Metal containers should also be lined with this muslin or paper.