There are many ways to store quilts safely for future generations, although the best choice depends on the number of quilts you 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 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. This problem can happen when dyes on one dry fabric rub off onto another.
- Crocking is not the same as fabric bleeding, a problem that occurs when fabrics are damp.
- Pre-washing the fabrics sometimes eliminates crocking but it's a good idea to place a buffer between stacked quilts just in case.
- 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.
If you have a safe place to store a long tube you can roll quilts for storage. This is another method that eliminates fold lines. 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.
Rolling quilts around an acid-free tube is another option for rolled quilt storage. At the collections storage area of The Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington, staff roll and store unused quilts on dowels, a system you could construct in a closet.
Fold the Quilt
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 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 less flat by inserting logs made from acid-free tissue paper in the crease. Acid-free boxes are also available.
Store in a Dark Place
Store your quilts in a dark area if possible as sunlight and interior lighting will fade fabric colors over time. Darker areas tend to have cooler temperatures which are desirable when it comes to quilt storage, with the most ideal temperatures ranging between 59 and 68 F.
Avoid Storing 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.
Other Helpful Tips
- 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.