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Cleaning an antique quilt

by Dawn
(Arlington, VA)

I recently received 2 quilts that my great grandmother made and they have been folded up for years sitting in my Aunt's closest. They have yellow lines on the folds and I want to remove the discoloration but am not sure what to do in order to make this happen.

Any assistance would be appreciated.


Since these quilts were made by your great-grandmother, I'm assuming that they were stitched before 1900. I would assume that the fabrics in them are fragile.

Until consulting with a professional, I do not recommend 'wet cleaning' or washing. You run the risk of the fabrics bleeding or the quilt tearing as it's moved in a wet state. Wet quilts are heavy and those stitches and fabrics are old and probably fragile.

Because I'm not an expert in the care and restoration of antique quilts, and these (you lucky gal!) are a part of YOUR quilting history, I'm referring you to the Internation Quilt Study Center & Museum suggestions. This is the link to their website:

The International Quilt Study Center has also prepared a free PDF download for quilters entitled, "Care and Conservation of Heirloom Textiles" by Shirley Niemeyer and Patricia Cox Crews.

You may also want to contact a Certified Quilt Appraiser to have a monetary value put on your treasures so that they can be properly insured.

In addition, an appraiser should be able to instruct you how to clean (or not) the quilts without affecting their value. This is the link to The Professional Association of Appraisers - Quilted Textiles' Find A Quilt Appraiser page. You'll find quilt appraisers in the US and Canada listed.

I wish you luck and a very BIG CONGRATULATIONS on your family's antique quilt treasures!

Finally, I apologize for the lateness of this reply. Over 150 questions appeared on my dashboard just recently, apparently due to some glitch in my website's platform. I'm slowly working my way through them.


Julie Baird

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