To protect your heirloom quilt when it's not on display, store it in a cool place with good air circulation. Fifty-percent relative humidity is ideal, but difficult to achieve; if a room's humidity level is comfortable for you, it should be fine for your quilt. Note that quilts should never be stored in the basement or attic. Acid-free tissue paper and acid-free boxes, which are chemically neutral, will shield the textile from materials that might leach acids into the fabric -- wood, for instance. Vintage quilts should never be stored in plastic, which does not allow the fabric to breathe and can trigger the growth of mildew and mold.
Tools and Materials
Acid-free tissue paper
Photograph of quilt
Folding a Quilt How-To
The folding method described below will help to reduce strain on the quilt.
It's important to pad folds to prevent fiber breakdown (sharp creases cause stress on the quilt). To do so, create acid-free tissue-paper logs that are as long as your quilt is wide: Lay a single sheet of tissue paper flat and loosely accordion fold it. Still holding this piece, loosely accordion fold another piece of tissue, and then add a third. Repeat with a fourth piece, folding halfway, then roll up accordion-folded pieces in this half; twist ends to secure.
To fold, begin by laying quilt flat on a clean work surface. Cover middle third with a layer of acid-free tissue paper. Place a tissue-paper log on either side of this paper -- parallel to short sides of quilt -- and fold sides of quilt over them. Repeat, placing shorter tissue logs a third of the way in from sides and folding over. Place quilt in acid-free box lined with acid-free tissue paper. (If the quilt doesn't fit exactly into the box, adjust folds.) We also included a desiccant in the box (see the Guide below) to absorb excess moisture.
Attach a photograph of the quilt to the box for easy identification. Two to three times per year, take quilt out and refold in a different direction to prevent permanent creases. You should also replace acid-free tissue paper every three years.
Quilt Care Kit, available from the Kirk Collection, www.kirkcollection.com