By Kim Wutzke
Aunt Mable spent two years making that charming quilt with the quirky border for your cabin. You can extend the life of her efforts by taking the time to implement a few preventative steps and cleaning precautions. Today's hand stitched cabin quilt with the quirky border could be one of your family heirlooms someday.
Sunlight and artificial light will cause fading and in time, fabric deterioration. Light damage is irreversible. If you choose to display your quilt try to place it in a location where the light is distributed evenly on the entire quilt. Never use nails, staples or pins to hang a quilt. Instead, sew a sleeve or tube of fabric along the top back side of the quilt, stitching through all layers every inch or so, then run a rod through the sleeve and attach the rod ends to the wall (wood curtain rod and wood curtain hangers work perfect). This distributes the weight of the quilt evenly and eliminates stretching and maintains the quilts shape.
Even hanging display quilts need cleaning. Occasional light vacuuming and airing will remove surface dust. Do not through your quilt over a clothes line and beat it. If you hang it outside on an overcast day and either lay a sheet over it or at least hang with the backing face up to prevent sun damage to the top.
Do not dry clean a soiled quilt unless directed to do so by the manufacturer. Improper dry cleaning with harsh chemicals may damage your quilt. To wash it safely first test for color fastness by gently rubbing each fabric with a wet (water only) cotton swab. If no color comes off then the dyes are set.
If you choose to machine wash your quilt use the gentlest cycle with warm/cold water and a very mild detergent such as Dreft, Ivory or Orvis. Orvis is an extremely gentle, Ph balanced detergent that leaves no residue. It is used for animals and can be purchased at your local feed supply or veterinary hospital. Never use bleach. Remove the quilted item from the washer promptly. Leaving them in the washer too long will have your quilt smelling like mold or mildew quickly. These odors can be very difficult to wash out.
Dry your quilted items in the dryer. If you choose to line dry, hang the quilt with the backing facing the sun and put a clean sheet over it to protect from sun exposure. While the quilt is still damp it can be fluffed in the dryer to reduce wrinkling.
For cleaning your quilt to preserve as a future heirloom it is preferred you hand wash with cold water and a mild detergent letting the quilt soak for up to four hours in the tub. Squeeze out excess water by pushing the quilt against the side of the tub, never wring it out. Rinse several times. If you have very hard water with a lot of minerals you may wish to do the last rinse with distilled water. This maintains the crisp colors. Again, gently squeeze out water and lay flat to dry. Lay a sheet over the quilt if you are drying it outside.
If you plan to store your quilt use an acid free box with only one item per box, acid free tissue wrap, an old pillow case or a piece of pre-washed muslin. Be sure to replace the tissue wrap or wash the fabric wrapper once a year. Also, refold the quilt along new fold lines.
Never store quilts in plastic bags, cardboard boxes or blanket chests. Besides poor air circulation they can also be stained and the weight of stacked quilts can cause fibers to break down.
Museum quality, heirloom and antique quilts need to be preserved and cared for by specialists and should be referred to a professional quilt conservator.
By keeping your quilt out of harmful light, cleaning carefully, hanging your quilt properly and storing them properly you will decrease the damage to your quilted items. Following these basic procedures will greatly increase the life of your quilted treasure. That cabin quilt with the quirky border and fond memories of Aunt Mable will be around for your family to enjoy for years to come.
Kim Wutzke owns Log Cabin Fever Gifts & Decor
where you will find additional articles on cabin decorating, rustic bedding, fishing quilts and unique wildlife gift ideas. Experience Rustic Cabin Quilts
for your home and family!