Quilt Care book coming

A collection of my previous 16 blog posts on quilt care will be published by a print-on-demand company this spring. The title is “Quilt Care: How to Help Yours Live to 100, Construction, Care and Use Advice.”

The 16 posts will be condensed into 12 chapters and additional information will be included.

When the book is ready, you will be the first to hear how to order it!

Barb

Sign quilts for posterity

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A quilt documentation label should include quiltmaker’s name, date, location and occasion for making the quilt. Photo by Barb Gorges.

How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 16

By Barb Gorges

In the previous 15 columns I have touched on topics relating to quilt construction, care and use that will hopefully help your quilt make it through several generations.

I have one final suggestion for you, a reiteration of my first column: Sign and date your quilt.

Recently, my cousins had to decide what to do with their now deceased parents’ belongings. I made the parents a quilt and so I told my cousins that if there were any quilts they didn’t want, to please send them to me.

I am happy to report that they did keep several quilts, including the one I made, but they shipped two quilts to me.

I was pleased to have quilts that belonged to my aunt and uncle. But neither quilt came with any information. Since neither my aunt nor uncle made quilts, I was left wondering whether one of my ancestors had made them, or my aunt’s. She was related to me by marriage.

One quilt was obviously a Lone Star made by Native Americans and most likely presented to my aunt in the 1950s when she was a public health nurse at the Fort Berthoud reservation in North Dakota.

But the other is a scrap quilt with no name, no date—and it needs repairing. If my aunt’s mother made it, I could save it for my cousins’ kids. But more likely, the day my children deal with my quilt-making legacy, that quilt will end up on the discard pile, or as a dog’s blanket since it is one of those homely scrap quilts only a direct descendant or quilt historian could love.

Even if your quilts aren’t getting passed down through your family, your name on the quilt you made will make it more likely it will be taken care of. The less anonymous the quiltmaker is, the better.

The more information you provide on a label on the back, or embroider somewhere, the better. Include your name, date, location and occasion for making the quilt. It will make it more likely your quilt will be cherished, even 100 years from now.

This is the last of a 16-part series available at http://www.GorgesQuiltLabels.com.

Shipping Quilts

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A queen-sized quilt with cotton batting will easily fit a 12 x 12 x 9-inch box if folded like an accordion (or a map), first in one direction and then the other. Photo by Barb Gorges.

How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 15

By Barb Gorges

In the previous two columns, I discussed appraising a quilt’s value and insuring it. It is especially important to take care of these two items before shipping a major quilt. If the quilt is valued for more than the maximum the shipping company can insure, make up the difference with a temporary insurance policy, especially if the quilt is going to a show.

When shipping to a quilt show, be sure to follow their directions exactly. The major shows have instructions that help them receive and track quilt entries and return them.

If you are shipping a quilt as a gift to someone, don’t surprise them. Double check their address. Find out which carrier they trust the most. Find out if they will be home.

Find out if it would be best to ship the quilt to your recipient’s work place or their home or some other location where they trust someone to receive it. You might pay extra for a signature to be required when the package is delivered. In some locations, packages can be picked up from UPS rather than left on a doorstep.

Once you ship the quilt, send the recipient the online tracking information, though if anything goes wrong, you will still be the only one allowed to make inquiries. If you used a shipping service like The UPS Store, they make the inquiries.

If your quilt is a wall hanging, avoid creases by wrapping it around a swim noodle or cardboard roll. If folding, fold it like an accordion, wide enough to fit the box one way and then accordion fold to fit in the other direction. Pin a copy of the mailing label to the quilt. Place the quilt inside a plastic bag—clear if possible. Place in the box. A new box is safest because it is stronger than a used box. Consider double-boxing to protect the quilt better from punctures.

If there is any space left in the box, consider cutting the box down to make the quilt fit exactly or fill the empty space with Styrofoam chunks (avoid the aggravation of peanuts or at least put them in plastic bags) or closed egg cartons. Use a black marker to cover any printing on the box.

Use plenty of packing tape. Put clear packing tape over the mailing label to protect it.

Avoid writing the word “quilt” anywhere on the box. When filling out the company’s insurance form, refer to your contents as a textile, which is not as exciting to would-be thieves but still describes a quilt.

Don’t wait for your quilt’s new owner to send you a thank you note. Once the tracking information shows that the quilt has been delivered, double check that it was delivered to them—and not their neighbor.

If your quilt is delayed by more than a few days or appears to be lost, contact the shipping company and be prepared to give them a copy of the documentation that shows the value of your quilt. Check http://lostquilt.com for more suggestions.

Insuring Quilts

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This baby quilt was lost for seven weeks between Wyoming and New Jersey. The quilt was not appraised so quite likely the shipper would have only paid the cost of materials to make it, though producing an appraisal of a similar quilt I made might have increased it to the amount I insured it for. Photo by Barb Gorges. 

How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 14

By Barb Gorges

As quilters, most of us tend to undervalue the quilts we’ve made. But if you purchase something for your home that costs $500 to possibly several thousand dollars, wouldn’t you want your home owner’s insurance to cover it if it were stolen or lost due to fire or flood?

In addition to quilters undervaluing quilts, so do home owner’s insurance companies. They equate them to a purchased bedspread.

To get more appropriate coverage, you must have your quilts appraised (as we discussed in my last column), or at least have a few of the important ones you’ve made appraised to get a sense of the expertise of your work.

If you purchased an antique quilt, the bill of sale will help value it. But family antique quilts will need to be appraised.

No insurance company is going to pay a claim without proof of value. Document all of your quilts: exact size, materials and techniques used, and photos of details and the entire quilt front and back.

Store a copy of your quilt records somewhere safe away from your house—in the digital cloud or your safe deposit box on a flash drive and/or in print.

You need to contact your insurance company to see if they will cover your quilts, perhaps with a rider, as they would art or jewelry. If they will, be sure you get the terms in writing. If not, ask them for a recommendation for another company.

Maria Elkins experienced losing a quilt (and getting it back), which led her to set up the website http://lostquilt.com where information about missing quilts can be posted. She also has more detailed information about insuring quilts.

Maria mentions an insurance agent who writes policies for quilts. It is the same woman a Cheyenne, Wyoming, quilter friend bought a short-term policy from to insure her quilt while it was being shipped to and from and exhibited at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.

It will take time to document your quilts if you aren’t in the habit of doing it after completing each one. But in addition to helping with any insurance claims, it will give you a great sense of accomplishment to look back at all your work.

Valuing Quilts

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This American Quilter’s Society appraisal is filed in a safe place with a photo of the quilt. Photo by Barb Gorges.

 

Valuing quilts: How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 13

By Barb Gorges

Have your quilt professionally appraised. Attaching monetary value to it may help keep it in better condition over the years. After all, if the next owner of the quilt (your friend or relation) has a copy of the appraisal in hand, they might decide their dog will enjoy sleeping on a $30 store-bought comforter just as much as a handmade quilt valued at $1000.

There are different kinds of appraisals. The one most quilters want is replacement value, the value you give to your home owner’s insurance company or when shipping the quilt. It is not figured the same way as market value.

If the quilt’s pattern is popular, made from a well-known quilter’s book or kit, replacement might be as simple as finding one for sale. So replacement value would be close to market value. But otherwise, replacement value is the cost of remaking the quilt, including the cost of materials and the cost of labor. A quilt made by a prize-winning quilter will be valued higher—one would need to hire a quilter with equivalent workmanship skills and that would cost more.

The American Quilter’s Society’s certified quilt appraisers have the best credibility should you have to put in an insurance claim. While there are none in Wyoming, there are several in surrounding states or you may be able to make appointments with them at quilting events. See http://www.americanquilter.com/ under “Resources.”

The cost of a quilt appraisal can be $50—about the same as four yards of batik. But if you have ever lost a quilt, you know how small a price that is.

Storing Quilts

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A queen-sized quilt is folded on the bias lengthwise, about 2 feet wide, and then rolled and inserted in a custom-made pillow case. A wall quilt is loosely rolled on a swim noodle and tied in place with a fabric strip so it can stand upright in a closet. Photo by Barb Gorges.

Storing quilts: How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 12

By Barb Gorges

The best way to store a quilt is flat, in the dark, protected from dirt and interactions with chemicals, and at “room temperature.” Layering a few quilts on your guest bed comes close, especially if you lay old sheets between them.

However, most of us have to compromise with textile collection standards. I fold my big quilts, but I try to fold them in unprecise thirds or on the bias, differently each time. I don’t want to end up with that permanent crease down the middle that is seen in so many antique quilts. After folding them in one direction, I often roll big quilts in the other direction, then put them in extra-long pillow cases I make for each quilt, either out of cheap, washed muslin or the quilt’s fabric leftovers.

For small quilts, I use a swim noodle that is longer than the quilt is wide, or other cylinders covered in batting and muslin scraps. I roll the quilt around it, tying it loosely with a couple leftover fabric strips. I often roll more than one quilt on a noodle and top it all off with a covering of muslin.  In my closet I stand the rolls upright on the protruding ends of the swim noodles.

I place fragile quilts in acid-free boxes and use crumpled, washed muslin instead of tissue paper to stuff in the quilt folds and to wrap them to protect them from contact with the box.

Situations you want to avoid include contact with raw wood (including cedar chests—wrap the quilt), plastic that isn’t museum conservation-quality, damp places, dirty/smelly places and anywhere temperatures get extremely hot or cold. And don’t stack quilts more than three or four deep.

In whatever situation you store a quilt, it is important to take it out every several months to examine it for insect damage and to air it—and enjoy it.

The first 11 parts of this series are available at this website.

Drying Quilts

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It’s best to dry quilts flat on carpet protected by a sheet. Photo by Barb Gorges.

Drying quilts: How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 11

By Barb Gorges

A wet quilt is a delicate thing. The larger it is, the heavier it is and the more carefully it must be treated to make sure the weight doesn’t break quilting stitches. However, a heavily machine-quilted quilt is probably stronger than one with widely-spaced or hand-quilted lines of stitching.

It’s best to air dry quilts flat. I lay a clean sheet over polyester or nylon carpet and then spread the quilt, squaring it up, blocking it. Here in Wyoming, even quilts with cotton batting are dry in a few hours. If necessary, set up a fan.

But if I use the “max extract” option on my washing machine, the quilt is so compressed by the end that I opt to toss it in the dryer on very low heat or just air for 10 minutes to loosen it up and make it easier to spread. Some quilters, before the quilt on the floor is completely dry, will pop it in the dryer to fluff it.

If you think any of the fabrics might bleed (you didn’t make the quilt or you didn’t take steps in Part 4 to check fabric washability), forget air drying—put the quilt in the dryer immediately, before the dyes have a chance to migrate. One reason we avoid using the dryer is to lessen wear and tear on the quilt, but I think a stain from a bleeding fabric is worse.

Line drying is very hard on a quilt, especially if it’s large and clothespinned. Stitching may break. However, a hard-used crib quilt will be just fine on a line. For other utility quilts, if you have multiple parallel clotheslines, you could spread a quilt out over all of them. Be sure to wash the lines or cover them with a sheet first. And maybe put a sheet over the quilt to protect it from passing birds.

The first 10 parts of this series are available on this website.