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Care & Repair of Your Precious Heirlooms posted: 1/14/2003
by Hallye Bone Printable Page
Category: Tips Method: All
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If you have concerns about the care of your beloved quilted treasures, old and new, here are some hints to help you:

Washing: It is not always necessary to launder a quilt. If it's musty, first, try airing it to remove odors. Vacuum it through a fiberglass screen to remove dust. If you must launder, use lukewarm water and Quilt Wash Soap, available at your local quilt shop. Or use Orvus, available at feed stores. Both are Proctor & Gamble's mildest soap. I prefer gentle hand laundering in the bathtub. Be careful not to pull, wring or twist as you could pop the stitches. Rinse until the water is completely clear. Do not dry clean a cotton quilt! For wool, silk and velvet, dry clean but search for a museum-approved dry cleaner.

Stain Removal: Remember, "You can't unring a bell". Whatever you do to a quilt cannot be undone. Be cautious about removing stains. First, do a test spot on the quilt to make sure the colors won't run or bleed. Commercial stain removers are harsh. For overall dingy quilts, presoak in Vintage Soak, available at quilt shops. I always soak overnight. I use "Biz", from the laundry aisle at grocery stores, for organic stains. Lemon juice and salt, mixed to form a paste, can remove some stubborn stains.

Repair: Never remove anything from a quilt. Rebind over old binding. Applique pieces over holes and tears. Use tea-dyed fabrics or reproduction pieces. Do not try to "darn" a worn spot because the surrounding fibers will not hold the stitches. Requilt the repaired area after you place the applique on top. If a hole needs repair, begin at the bottom of the quilt. Applique a piece of fabric over the backing's damaged area. Then cut a piece of batting to fit the hole. Finally, replace the top's missing piece. Requilt.

Storage and Display: Get your quilts out of plastic bags! Plastic traps moisture and can cause mildew. Store quilts, folded on muslin-covered shelves, with acid-free tissue paper in the creases. Refold every six months. Keep quilts out of basements and attics. The changes in temperature and humidity are hard on the fibers. A good place to "store" and display a quilt is on a bed, but beware of sunlight or bright incandescent light. Hang quilts on walls with dim lighting, such as hallways. Use quilt racks to show off quilts. Fold quilts over the end of the bed or on a chair.

If you treat quilts with love and care, they will last through generations and be spectacular focal points of your home.

Hallye Bone, Expert Quilt Repair and Restoration

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