There are no deep, dark secrets regarding the safeguarding of a quilt collection. Good common sense and a healthy respect for the textiles involved will go a long way toward preserving these treasures for future generations. Here are some simple guidelines to follow:
- Steady temperature and humidity is important for the long life of your quilts. A steady temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees F. and a humidity of 50% to 60% is best. Moisture is a big killer of fine quilts. The resultant mildew and deterioration is easily noticeable, but by the time you have noticed it, the damage has already been done.
- Good air circulation is also important for quilts. NEVER place your quilts in plastic bags. When they are stored, they should be in a dry, dark closet, chest or blanket chest. Wrap your quilts in a clean sheet or pillow case. This allows the quilt to breathe and gives protection from wood oils.
- A quilt should be displayed for no more than 6 months at a time, then placed in storage. This extends the color life of the quilt. All textiles fade in light.
- Never hang your quilt on a wall with anything other than a velcro support system or cotton sleeve. Should you decide to frame a quilt or quilt block, consult a framer who has experience working with textiles. Ask about the framer’s method of attaching the textiles to a background. Do NOT allow a chemical adhesive to be used. Plexiglas, NOT glass, should be used to cover (but not touch) the quilt. Plexiglas allows your quilt to breathe.
- Never place your quilt on wall or bed where it will be in direct sunlight. Fading will result! Place your quilt in filtered, indirect light and avoid fluorescent light whenever possible.
- The best possible climate for your quilt is where there is no smoking allowed. Quilts soak up smoke like a sponge and the smoke causes changes in colors. Smoke also speeds up deterioration of the fibers in a quilt.
- DO NOT OVER CLEAN YOUR QUILTS! Consult a textile professional for advice BEFORE attempting to clean your own quilt. DO NOT DRY CLEAN YOUR QUILTS!
In short, a sensible approach is sufficient for the protection of your quilts. Don’t be panicked by concern, but remember that care is required to keep your quilts in good condition. It is the same with quilts as it is with anything of value: they need looking after. When in doubt, consult a specialist in the textile field.
Recommended Reading: “First Aid For Family Quillts” by Nancy O’Bryant Puentes