Heirloom Handmade Quilt Care

 A friend's family heirloom crazy quilt, winner of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

A friend's family heirloom crazy quilt, winner of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Heirloom Handmade Quilt Care

A friend recently shared this picture of a crazy quilt made by a relative which won first prize at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, a four year international exhibition showcasing the achievement of nations. Besides being a stunning piece of art, her post was a good reminder that fabric art like this lovely crazy quilt requires not only careful care but documentation as well.

1. Any quilt should be stored in cotton, never in plastic. It is tempting to think that quilts are better off in plastic but that's not true, storing quilts confined in plastic speeds up the deterioration of cotton fibers. All quilts should be stored in cotton such as pillow cases or wrapped in cotton sheets. Heirloom, antique and special quilts like this one should be stored in museum-quality cotton fabric draped over wooden rods to minimize folds.

2. Heirloom quilts should also be appraised by certified quilt appraisers who charge a fee, not a percentage, of the final appraisal.

3.  There is a difference between insurance value and appraised value, make sure you have the appraisal you need for the insurance coverage you need. If in doubt, ask the appraiser to make sure they can provide the appraisal service you need. If not, check with a local quilt guild for a referral.

4. If you have newspaper clippings, family letters, photographs showing the item in the photograph and other items that can show the quilt's provenance, collect the items and keep them with the quilt. The documentation showing this crazy quilt won the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair will add value to the quilt.

5. Is the quilt maker's name anywhere on it? Whether in embroidery anywhere on the quilt, having the quilt maker's name on the quilt also adds value. Remember that the next time you make a quilt or win a ribbon in a quilt contest. Even after the fact, add your name and date you made the quilt so your relatives getting the quilt will know who made the lovely family heirloom.

6. In addition to the detailed piecing, the lovely hand embroidery is part of what makes this crazy quilt unique. If there is any wear to the embroidery in a quilt, have it stabilized by professionals so that the embroidery does not further unravel. You don't want to do it yourself, any work you do to a quilt changes the age of a quilt so all you want done is to ensure that no further deterioration occurs.

7. Keep your heirloom quilts away from sun, smoke and pets. If you want to enjoy your special quilt, consult a museum on how it can be safely displayed so that it can be enjoyed in your home.

Charlotte