There are many ways to store quilts safely between use and for future generations, although the best choices for each of us depend on the number of quilts we have and the storage space that's available. Try one or more of these quilt storage solutions to see which works best for your needs.
Store Quilts on an Unused Bed
It's easy to store multiple layers of quilts on an unused bed, and that method allows a storage solution that prevents permanent fold lines.
- Separate quilts with white cotton sheets or pre-washed unbleached muslin to keep them from rubbing against each other, a process that could contribute to wear and produce marks from crocking, a problem that can happen when dyes on one dry fabric rub off onto another.
- Cover the top quilt with another white sheet, and finish with any type of sheet to help protect the top quilt from the fading in the light.
Flat white cotton sheets are often available from companies that sell sheets to hotels or spas. Some fabric stores offer bolts of unbleached muslin at reasonable prices.
Roll Quilts for Safe Storage
If you have a safe place to store a long tube, roll quilts for storage, another method that eliminates folds.
Place a white sheet on the quilt top and roll towards the sheet layer -- the quilt's backing will still be visible. Finish by rolling the roll in another white sheet and store flat in a clean, dry location. Turn the roll occasionally to prevent a 'flat spot' from forming. A flat area may not be a problem, but why take the chance?
Acid-free tubes are also available -- roll quilts around the tube.
I had an opportunity to visit the collections storage area of The Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington. Staff rolls and stores unused quilts on dowels, a system you could construct in a closet.
Fold the Quilt for Storage
Fold the quilt with as few folds as possible, with a white sheet against the front of the quilt and the quilt's backing. Store in a dry area -- a cool area is best but a dry area is critical.
- A quilt that's been left folded the same way for a long time may develop permanent fold lines so change the folds occasionally if you plan a long storage time.
- Try not to fold the quilt along seam lines because they have a tendency to become flat. If you can's avoid folding along seams, refold the quilts more often.
- Don't stack too many quilts on top of each other because the weight of the top quilts can flatten quilts at the bottom of the stack.
- Keep the folds a bit less flat by inserting 'logs' made from acid-free tissue paper in those areas. Acid-free boxes are also available. (Compare Prices of Acid-Free Tissue Paper and Acid-Free Storage Boxes)
Store Quilts in a Dark Place
Sunlight and interior lighting will fade fabric colors over time, so store your quilts in a dark area if possible.
Avoid Storing Quilts in Plastic
Try to avoid storing quilts in plastic for long periods of time. Plastics release vapors that can eventually lead to fabric deterioration.
If you're moving, if storage is temporary, or if you live in an area prone to floods, plastic bins are great to have on hand, because they keep out water and dust. Just don't depend on plastic for long-term storage. Do make sure quilts are absolutely dry before placing them in a temporary plastic storage bin.
A Few Quilt Storage Cautions
- Don't store an unwrapped quilt in an unsealed wooden box or another unsealed surface because the wood can stain the cloth.
- Avoid storing quilts in areas that might be prone to mice (they love to dig into the quilt sandwich). Insects can invade, too.
- Don't store your quilts in a garage or attic -- there's too much moisture and those areas are more prone to vermin.