Long-Term Storage

All articles are copyrighted. In most cases, articles on protecting quilts may be reprinted in your quilt guild newsletter free of charge, but please request permission first.

Document your quilt first.

Before you store your quilt, make sure it is thoroughly documented, photographed, insured and appraised.

Clean your quilt before you store it

Make sure your quilt is clean. Remove surface dust by placing a piece of screening (with taped edges) over your quilt and vacuuming gently with a hand-held attachment. If you notice any stains, remove them before storing. There are several good books which tells you how to clean quilts. NEVER send your quilt to a dry cleaners. The dry cleaning process can damage your quilt, not to mention the possibility of your quilt being lost or stolen.

Never place your quilt in plastic for long-term storage

Fabric needs to breathe to lessen the chance of mildew. Do not store in plastic bags or plastic boxes.

Check for moisture build-up regularly

Even if you don’t store your quilts in plastic, moisture can be a problem. Check your quilts regularly to see if they feel moist or cool. If moisture is a concern, place a tub of dessicant near your quilts. Dessicant is a little tub of crystals that absorbs moisture in small spaces. You should be able to find it at a hardware store or a drug store near the spray starch.

Let your quilt lie down for its long winter nap

Store your quilt as flat a possible in a darkened area. The bed in your spare bedroom may be ideal. If you do fold your quilt, fold it with the backing on the inside, cushion the folds with crushed, acid-free tissue paper, and store it wrapped in muslin, in a pillowcase, or in an acid free box. (If you must fold your quilt, fold it horizontally first. Horizontal creases seem to fall out easier when a quilt is hung due to the weight of the quilt.) Placing your quilt under your bed may also be a good storage place for smaller quilts or for quilts that are just folded once or twice. Refold your quilt in a different way every three to six months. Quilts may also be rolled around a tube for storage. Cover the tube first with acid free tissue paper or muslin. Do not fold your quilt before rolling. Then cover your rolled quilt with another layer of muslin.

Prevent direct contact with wood

Do not place quilts directly against wood for long term storage. The natural oils in the wood or the wood finish can sometimes transfer to your quilt. Cardboard also has acids which can be destructive to fabric. If you plan to use a box for storage, be sure to use acid free tissue paper and acid free boxes. Acid free boxes may be available from your dry cleaners or through mail order sources.

Prevent insects from eating your quilts

Bugs like to fabric, especially protein fibers like silk or wool, so if that is a concern place a bag of artemesia near your quilts. Bugs don’t like it so they stay away. Dried artemesia, also known as wormwood, is an herb that may be purchased at some healthfood stores or off the internet. It can also be purchased live at some nurseries.

Label the outside of the storage bag

Someone else may have to retrieve your quilts in the future. Make it easy on them. Include information regarding who should receive your quilts if you were to die. Grieving relatives do not always know the value of your treasured quilts and quilted clothing. They may unknowingly give or throw them away! Be sure to make note of where any documentation is located for each quilt. Do not store your quilt with paper touching it since the acid in paper can damage fabric.

Don’t forget your quilt

Inspect regularly for possible damage due to moisture or bugs.


Long-Term Storage — 2 Comments

  1. I write a newsletter for my local guild and I found your article about storing quilts I thought the ladies would find informative. the newsletter is ready to “go to press” and when I went back to check if I had left any information out of the article, I found your request for permission at the end of the article. I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before. In addition, I always include the sources of where I find different information and included your web site as well. I hope it is ok to still include this page in the newsletter. Thank you.

  2. Hi Earlene,

    No problem! I’m happy to give you permission to reprint my article to use as you’ve described. My reprint guidelines are as follows:
    1. Articles should be reprinted in their entirety, without rewording or deletions. I understand that sometimes there is not enough space so if only a portion of an article is to be reprinted, please check with me first.
    2. Copyright information must be included. This information is at the bottom of the same page as the article that is being reprinted. It typically looks something like this: “(c) 2010 Maria Elkins.”
    3. At the end of the article, please include a line that reads: “Reprinted with permission. Please visit the Lost Quilt Come Home Page, http://www.lostquilt.com, which displays lost and stolen quilts and provides information on protecting quilts.”