How to Preserve an Old Quilt

By Sunny Jane Morton Premium

SUPPLIES: Camera, vacuum, archival tissue, acid-free box
COST: Varies

TIME: 1-2 hours
1. Unfold the quilt. Place it in a clean, well-lit area. Photograph both sides. Take close-up photos of special elements, such as embellishments or embroidered signatures.

2. Inspect the fabric and seams for rips, moisture damage and insect infestation. Photograph any damaged areas.

3. Clean the quilt gently, according to the instructions on the previous page. To kill insects and larvae, vacuum carefully and wrap the quilt tightly in heavy-duty plastic zipper bags or plastic sealed with duct tape. Freeze it at -10 degrees for 10 days. Thaw at room temperature to avoid condensation, then open and re-vacuum.

4. Document what you know about the quilt’s history with an archival pen on archival paper, and slip the paper into a polypropylene sheet protector. Keep this document with the quilt (or if you display the quilt, keep it with your photos of the quilt).

5. Store your quilt according to the instructions on the previous page. Want to display it? If it’s sturdy and doesn’t have heavy embellishments or a fragile surface, you can hang it from the top edge. Hand-stitch a cotton sleeve and put a dowel through it, or use non-adhesive Velcro and a slat. You also can spread a quilt across a rarely used bed.

6. To research your quilt based on the fabrics used, consult a guide such as Clues in the Calico: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Antique Quilts by Barbara Brackman (EPM Publications).

From the May/June 2013 Family Tree Magazine