How To Organize And Store Your Quilt/Quilt Fabric?

Perhaps you have a precious cloth: Your grandmother’s quilt, a tapestry from a trip, or even a wall hanging from a craft show that is rolled up in the closet, folded in the armoire, or tucked away in a box or sack under the bed for safe keeping.

Did you know that this “safekeeping” might be damaging the textile? Did you know that a plastic bag would deteriorate and mildew the materials, that folding the piece may create ridges and uneven streaks that will ruin it? Have you ever given thought of whether or not your treasured textiles will survive the test of time and be available for future generations to pass on?

Maybe this year is the year to get the quilt and your entire stash of fabric organized. Maybe.

Make sure to read this guide if you think it’s time to get it out and enjoy it as the art piece that it was meant to be. Decorating your home with fabric art is a wonderful way to warm up a room and it slows for the piece to breathe and be opened up.

How To Organize Quilt Fabric?

If it is, here are some tips for storing long lengths of fabric. Most quilters store their fabric by color — reds together, yellows together, etc.

When it comes to prints, it becomes a little more difficult. Many of us look at a print and pick out the main color and keep it in that group. Others keep all of their prints together.

I keep my prints mixed in with the colors, and separate my batiks and flannels. Within the batik, wool and flannel piles, the fabric is organized by color. That makes it easier to sort the fabric for a flannel or wool quilt. And when working with batiks, I usually begin with that fabric, and then go to my cotton stash to fill in the remainder of the quilt.

Here are some general tips for organizing:

  • Hang your fabric on pants hangers — fold the fabric in half selvedge to selvedge. Then fold it either accordion-style or as if it were coming off of the bolt in the fabric store so it is the width of the clamps on the hanger. Clamp the selvedge edges on the hanger.
  • Roll your fabric on cardboard mailing tubes
  • Fold it neatly on shelves with the folded side facing out. If your shelves are open, you can use roll-up window blinds to cover it and prevent the fabric from fading.
  • Fold the fabric so it is approximately 8″ by 11″ and then place it, fold side up, in drawers in a filing cabinet, like you can buy at an office supply store. (This one is especially nice for making your quilting look like a business. Keep the cabinet locked and everyone will think you have a ton of important papers!)
  • Fold the fabric and stack it in plastic see-through boxes or other plastic tubs. If you use boxes that you can’t see into, be sure to label the contents.

How To Hide Fabric Stash?

Clever Fabric Hideaways- Here are some creative storage spots designed to hide fabric from anyone who doesn’t understand why you need it at all!

  • A box labeled “Christmas ornaments” or “baby clothes”
  • In the freezer wrapped in butcher paper and labeled “meat loaf”
  • Go shopping with a friend, trade bags before you get home, then declare “This isn’t mine, I’m just holding it for a friend”
  • The trunk of your car
  • A wire hanger covered by a dress or blouse — this is good for about 2 yards
  • In plain sight — on an open shelf, neatly folded and color coordinated to your room décor

It’s all in fun! Although I will admit to spreading my fabric in various places all around the house, somehow, if it’s a little in a bunch of different spots, it doesn’t look like you have “that much.”

How To Sort Quilt Fabrics?

Let’s continue the journey through quiltmaking in the 1890s with quilting tips published by Household Discoveries, by Sidney Morse, published in 1890.

Sidney suggests that you sort your fabric pieces, ‘putting goods of the same general character, as ginghams, woolens, calicoes, silks, and the like, in separate lots.’ He suggests that quilts made of similar fabrics are ‘generally more satisfactory than if various kinds of goods are mingled together, and may be used for different purposes. Silk quilts may be used for couches and sofas, woolen quilts for the guest chambers, gingham and calico quilts for everyday wear, and quilts from old stockings for summer quilts, porches, and hammocks.’

How different making quilts is in the 21st Century!

Where is the best place to store my quilt?

Store textiles in a dark, dry place. Attics, basements and garages should be avoided. Avoid any storage area that is exposed to extremes in temperatures.

KEEP QUILTS OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT. The ultra-violet rays in daylight and fluorescent light break down fabric dyes and speed up the oxidation of fibers.

Keep textiles away from insects, mice and other vermin. (Do not use moth crystals when there is insect infestation)

Quilts can be stored flat, folded or rolled around full-length wooden dowels or cardboard tubing. If space is at a premium or if your quilts contain thick stuffed work, the folded method of storage is preferable. Don’t stack too many folded quilts on top of each other or else the weight of all the quilts will create creases that are hard or impossible to get out. For the same reason, unfold and refold your quilts periodically to avoid severe creasing. It is recommended to use muslin tubes or pantyhose stuffed with batting in the fold areas to protect the fibers from creasing.

Can’t I store textiles in plastic bags ?

No! Plastics should NEVER be used for storage. They contain harmful vapors, which contribute to the deterioration of the fabrics. Plastics that are particularly harmful: dry cleaner’s bags, heavy-duty garbage bags, garment bags and Styrofoam.

Can I keep my quilts in a cedar chest?

Cedar, along with other woods, secretes oils that can damage fabric. If you must keep your quilts in a wooden container, it should be sealed with aprotective coating of polyurethane varnish, then lined with unbleached, washed muslin or acid-free paper. Metal containers should also be lined with this muslin or paper.

I have some old quilt blocks that are stored in a shoe box, is that safe?

Newspapers and cardboard boxes are NOT OKAY because they are full of harmful decaying agents. Just remember how your newspaper ages after only a few weeks. Contact of these items with your quilts will cause harm.

Do I need to use acid free paper or boxes to store my quilts?

Quilt storage doesn’t need to be expensive, while you can use acid free paper or boxes, you can also use clean cotton sheets or washed, unbleached muslin are excellent to protect and store quilts in

How To Sort Vintage/Antique Quilt Fabrics?

Protect your quilts and textiles from set-in creases by carefully packing them with acid free tissue before placing them in storage. Always take your quilts out and re-fold them along different lines four time each year.

Versatile record/artifact carton is the start of a sensible storage system for high value dolls, figurines, small textiles, ribbons, laces, ornaments and more. Use the optional divers and trays shown below to create customized storage for your vintage quilt collection or precisous heirlooms.

Each component should be acid and lignin-free, purified alpha cellulose pulp board with no alum sizing.

The samples in the photos is with the pH is 8.5-10.0 buffered with calcium carbonate, 3% reserve, and the modified starch adhesive has a minimum pH of 8.5.

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