Now that we’ve entered a brand new year of quilting, it’s time to figure out what to do with last year’s quilts. If you want to display them, we encourage you to check out our post on Our Favorite Ways to Display Quilts. There are lots of good ideas there!
If you want to store your quilts, we have some great tips and tricks to help you get started. New quilters might assume you can just fold a quilt like a blanket and shove it in the attic. They would be wrong, and very sad when they pull their quilt out of storage only to find it badly frayed and with deep, hard creases that shirk even the hardest working iron. So let’s get to it!
1. Refold Often!
The worst thing for a quilt is for it to sit folded for years and years. As you prepare last year’s quilts for storage, take out any quilts you currently have in storage and give them a nice, gentle airing out. Lay them flat for a few days to relax any creases that may have formed.
If you have a quilt with really deep creases, try hanging it vertically from a rod so that gravity can do the work of smoothing it out. This is also a nice opportunity to rotate your quilts. Quilts left on display all year round are more exposed to dust, the color bleaching effects of the sun, and other household influences (scented candles, cleaning products, etc.).
2. Store Quilts in a Pillowcase
Resist the urge to store your quilts in plastic bags or tubs. Storing in plastic can trap moisture, which encourages mold. Mold leads to staining. If you want to store your quilts inside of something, use a clean pillowcase, which will allow air to circulate around the quilt. Aim for an acid-free material to keep it from yellowing (cedar chests, while attractive, will cause staining as they are not acid free!). most pillowcases are made of cotton, so pillowcases are a cheap and readily available option for storage.
3. Keep it Cool, Dark, and Dry
Quilts should be stored in cool, dark, and dry spaces. This usually translates to a closet or storage cabinet. Stay away from the attic and basement, which usually have uncontrolled temperatures and humidity levels. Again, we’re trying to avoid moisture, mold, and mildew, and extreme fluctuations in temperature, all of which can damage and stain your quilt.
4. When Folding, Start with a Corner
You’ll see in point #5 why it’s important to always start with a corner when folding your quilt. It doesn’t matter which corner you start your fold, it’s just important to always start with a corner. This simple instruction gets its own tip because folding a quilt from straight edge to straight edge can create deep, unyielding creases. So remember the mantra: start with a corner, start with a corner, start with the corner.
5. Fold on the Bias
By folding your quilt from a corner, you will be folding on the bias. Folding on the bias is important because the bias has more give and stretch. Folding a quilt in half can lead to stress on the fabric, causing tears and holes. Always fold on the bias to prolong the life of your quilt. Folding on the bias also creates softer creases. Simply folding a quilt in half can create deep, sometimes permanent creases that weaken the fabric.
(Editor’s note: The above quilt was a gift to a non-quilter, who was not aware of the value of folding on the bias. Lucky for us, it gave us a great example of the kind of deep creasing that can happen—see the vertical line bisecting the quilt? Luckily, she now knows better, as we walked her through the process of folding her quilt properly, on the bias. We made her show us her work to demonstrate how easy it is. The two examples are below.)
BONUS! Two Ways to Fold a Quilt
Step 1: Starting at a corner, fold up to around the middle of the quilt.
Step 2: Starting at the same edge but opposite corner, bring the opposite corner up to meet or overlap step one’s corner fold. It should make a nice straight triangle as shown above.
Step 3: Starting at the other edge of the quilt, fold the third corner down to meet the wide bottom edge of the triangle you just made. It may overlap the edge a bit to make a clean line.
Step 4: Starting at the final fourth corner, fold in to form a square. You can stop here if the quilt is small. Or, proceed to step 5.
Step 5: Fold your square in half to make a triangle.
Step 6: Fold the top point of the triangle down to meet the base edge of the triangle.
Step 7: Fold the last two points in towards the center to meet the tip of the top point you just folded.
Step 8: Flip over, you’re done!
Step 1: Starting at a corner, fold your quilt so that the edge meets the opposite side. If your quilt is a rectangle, you will have a section of unfolded quilt at the top (seen above in step 1).
Step 2: Starting along the same edge you just folded over to, fold the corner across and down so that the tip meets the straight edge you just created.
Step 3: Bring the bottom corner of your quilt up to meet the folds created in step 1 and 2. Make this fold meet the edge neatly, as seen above.
Step 4: Take the last unfolded edge at the top and fold it down towards the middle.
Step 5: Fold in half lengthwise, flip it over, you’re done!
We hope these tips and tricks will help you fold and store your quilts so that they remain beautiful and pristine for years and years. Do you have any great folding or storage tricks you use with your quilts? Let us know!
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