Storage of Quilts and Coverlets – (Part 5 of 6) Conservation and Preservation of Heirloom Textiles

[ Music ]
[ Ann Frisina ] Hello and welcome to the Textile Conservation Lab of
the Minnesota Historical Society. My name is Ann Frisina and I’m
the textile conservator. We’ve created a series of podcasts
to assist you in the storage of heirloom textiles.
And in this podcast, I’ll be showing you how to safely fold quilts
and coverlets for storage in boxes. [ Music ]
Boxes are a great way to store quilts and coverlets.
First off you can stack them fairly high on a shelf and take
advantage of all your usable space. Secondly, once the box is closed,
it blocks out all light and dirt and acts as a barrier against
pest infestation and finally, it’s a fast and easy manner
to store many quilts at a time. And another thing I’d like to mention
is that some boxes are available with polyester film or Melinex top.
I advise against these because it’s easy to puncture them and then
once that box top is punctured you can allow in dirt, light as well as pests.
Now when preparing your box for storage, the first thing
you want to do is put in a muslin or acid free tissue paper sling in.
And I have an example of a sling right here.
It’s just a washed piece of undyed muslin.
Slings are extremely important in that they allow you to put textiles
or quilts in and out of the box without actually handling the piece.
And in this instance, I’d like to demonstrate,
I can just pull this straight up and out like this.
And I very easily pull the entire quilt out
without even handling it at all and then I can put it back in as well.
Now this sling can also be made out of an acid free tissue paper
as well as long as it’s big enough to extend out to the sides.
Now one thing I’d like to advise people prior to folding
any kind of quilt or coverlet is to make sure they have
a table surface large enough to accommodate the entire textile.
It’s very difficult to fold something when it’s not thoroughly
supported overall flat. So please be sure to measure and
make sure you have enough space to proceed with this process.
Now whenever you’re folding a large quilt such as this red and
white one here, it’s often necessary to get some help and my colleague
Sherelyn Ogden will be assisting me in the folding of this quilt.
Folding quilts is similar to folding flat textiles.
The first thing you want to do is examine the textile to see
if there are any former fold lines that would document
an area of weakness. And I don’t really see any true
fold lines within this quilt. So what we’re going to do is
fold it in thirds because it is likely that it was folded in
halves and quarters and so we want to always alternate
the fold lines and fold on a stronger area.
The first thing we want to do when we’re folding these quilts
is to set up a cushioned area of support with this scrunched up
acid free paper. And if you’ll help me,
we’ll line up that first layer, that first line.
[ Paper rustling ] Now you can see were both
reaching into the middle to hold this in place with one arm
and then we’re going to advance the quilt gently over so that it
reaches a third way mark with the other. And then sometimes
it’s necessary to just reach in and give it a little tap down there
to make sure that fold is securely patted out.
[ Paper rustling ] And now we’re going to repeat
that process on the other side. [ Paper rustling ]
And again, fold this side over in thirds.
[ Paper rustling ] So now that I’ve folded
this quilt in thirds, before I go any further, I want to make sure
that it’s going to fit in the box. And so what I like to do
when I’m folding quilts is actually pull the prepared box
with the sling right up next to it and make sure
that it fits within the width of my box. And it does very easily.
I’m going to put that over here. And now, I want to fold it the final
[ Paper rustling ] opposite way. So what I’m going
to is in this case, I’m going to bring this a little closer
and again I’m going to have that near me for a guide.
[ Paper rustling ] And I’m going to scrunch up
two layers of paper. And the reason I’m doing this is because these folds
are going to go on top of one another like a little roll. And I’ll demonstrate
that right here. And I want to be sure I have enough paper to support
that fold. The first one I fold over is actually pretty small. Take it gently, roll it over
and I’m going to kind of place it down. And I can see here
that there’s no creasing going on here that it’s just gently curving.
And then I’m going to do one more time and I have a little extra.
The nice thing about this is that you can just kind of gently pick it up
and roll it forward and make it really set.
I’m going to put those ends in right there.
And now I am ready to put this in the box.
And to make it easier, I’m going to put the sling down. I’m going to pick this up,
put it down on there. And now I have a handling platform so to speak,
which will allow me to pick up and easily put it into the box.
[ Paper rustling ] Now this quilt doesn’t
quite fill out the box entirely. There is still a little room on top
and I would think that it would be OK to put a small flat textile on top
for storage if you needed to put a secondary item in here.
[ Music ] Storing quilts and coverlets in
boxes is a time consuming and costly process.
However it is a great way to preserve your quilts and coverlets
for long term preservation. Please refer to the Minnesota
Historical Society website to find out information on where
to purchase supplies. And in our next podcast we’ll be reviewing
how to roll quilts and coverlets. [ Music ]