GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2006-01 > 1137033613
From: Carol H <>
Subject: Preserving old quilts.
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 18:40:13 -0800 (PST)
Saw your request on the Gen Web list and found this article that might help. This article is from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum website:
Carefully examine and evaluate your quilt before you decide to clean it. The majority of quilts only need to have surface dust removed. The best way to remove dust from a sturdy quilt is to place a nylon over the nozzle of a vacuum and then gently vacuum the quilt in two different directionspreferably on both sides and in a manner to not stretch the stitches.
Another safe method of cleaning is airing. Choose an overcast day to air your quilt and never beat or shake the quilt. Both processes will remove odors and dirt.
Do not dry clean a soiled quilt. Harsh chemicals applied by an inexperienced cleaner can be damaging.
If a quilt must be washed it is important to test for color fastness. Gently rub each fabric type with a cotton swab moistened only with tap water. If no color rubs off then the dyes are set.
Once color fastness is determined, the easiest way to wash a quilt is to fill the bathtub with lukewarm water and mix in Orvus (about 2 Tbsp. for half a tub.) Orvus is recommended because it is pH balanced and leaves no residue. Orvus is available at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in small quantities, as well as at veterinarian/animal supply stores in large quantities.
Immerse the quilt in the tub and let it soak for up to four hours depending on its condition, pat lightly. Drain the soapy water by holding the quilt to the side. To rinse, fill the tub with clean water at least seven times. If your tap water has a significant number of minerals, use distilled water on the last rinse.
After the quilt is thoroughly rinsed, squeeze out the excess water by pushing the quilt against the side of the tub. Remember, fabric is weaker when it is wet. To help protect the quilt from ripping when removing it from the tub, roll it in a towel or sheet forming a sling to distribute the weight. Lay it out on a flat surface to dry. If this is outside, cover the quilt with a white sheet to protect it from sunlight or bird droppings.
My mother in law is a quilter and has made some beautiful ones for us. The ones that she makes can be washed in the machine on delicate but I would not recommend that with old ones. I have a quilt made by my great grandmother while they were building the house I live in over 70 years ago and I have taken it outside on a nice clear day and laid it across the furniture on my deck out of the sun to air out. Good luck.
Carol Sherman Houghton
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