Do you have a favorite quilt that has been passed down to you by a grandparent or other relative? Perhaps you have a favorite new quilt that you proudly display on the back of the antique rocker you picked up at an auction. If that sounds like you, get ready to celebrate National Cherish Your Antiques Day on April 9.
First, let’s establish that quilts should be cherished every day, whether they are antique or not. If you happen to have an antique one that you would like to display, there are a few key rules to keep in mind. First of all, examine the quilt for rips, tears, or pulled stitches. You will need to address these concerns before displaying it. In most cases, a few simple whip stitches can repair most problems. For bigger problems like worn fabric, you may be better off leaving them alone. The option is to replace or patch the worn spots.
Determine where you want to display your antique quilt. If you would like to drape it over the back of a sofa, make sure it is safe from pets or small children who might cause damage to it. Also make sure that it isn’t at a level where hair care products like hair spray or wash-in hair color might rub off on it and cause damage.
If you want to hang it on the wall, add a hanging sleeve to the back and put it on a rod. Hanging sleeves are simple to add. Just whip stitch it to the quilt’s backing. Sewing all the way through the layers would make stitches visible on the front side of the quilt.
If you have an antique quilt that has large amounts of damage, consider cutting out the good parts of it to make accessories that you can display. A quilt block in decent shape can be framed to use as wall art. If it is clean and can hold up to spot cleaning, maybe you can convert it into an accent pillow. Pieces of lace or ribbon can be salvaged from antique quilts and used in crazy quilts or to accent other accessories. You could even combine the salvaged trims in a shadow box with other memories you would like to display.
Displaying quilted runners on antique furniture also requires a little consideration, especially if the antique has recently been refurnished. It is vital that the finish has had time to cure. If it feels the slightest bit sticky, do not put your quilted runner or anything else on top of it. Even if it has dried the recommended amount of time, putting something on top of a slightly tacky finish will damage it. Factors like heat and humidity may change the amount of time a finish needs to dry. This is a process that just cannot be rushed.
Showing your quilt on an antique quilt rack is another idea. Give wooden racks a good cleaning with furniture polish. Wrought iron racks can be cleaned with warm water and a squirt or two of mild dish detergent. After washing it, rinse with a clean wet cloth then dry. If rust remains, remove it with a find sand paper. A hardware store clerk can help you determine which grit to use for the sanding project. The gold tone or brass tone quilt racks from the 1960s and 1970s can usually be cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner like a window cleaner. After cleaning the quilt rack, give it time to dry and air out before adding the quilt over it. This keeps the odor and oil of cleaners from getting on the surface of your quilt.