Giving away a quilt? You're so sweet and generous! Do your friends and family know how lucky they are to have you in their lives?? As you give your incredibly fortunate loved one the gift of a new quilt, make sure you give them the gift of knowledge as well… the knowledge of how to take care of it! Oh, and before I forget, at the bottom of this post is a fun printable 5" x 7" card for you to fill out and add to your next quilt gift.
There’s one thing that quilters know that non-quilters really don’t. Well, lots of things. The first is HOW MUCH FREAKING WORK you put into that thing. Like, the gestational period of a quilt is sometimes as long as and as arduous as the gestational period of a baby (I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.)
Those quilts are your babies, and like babies, they need to be loved and cherished and probably washed sometimes. And all those quilt care instructions? Those are the other things that non-quilters usually don’t know. So any time you give one of those precious bundles of joy away (let’s be clear, I’m talking about quilts again), give these instructions along with it.
The quilt above is the Sugar POP quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!
How to Care for Your New Quilt
1. Use it, of course!
Sure, the quilt is gorgeous and you want it to last forever and ever. I get it. And it may be counter-intuitive, but the best way to keep that quilt fresh and bouncy is to actually use it! Keep it in the open air!
Don’t seal it up and store it away in a closet where it can’t breathe. Even though this quilt is absolutely heirloom material, show it off, and make sure to rub it against your cheek from time to time. Quilts love that.
The quilt above is the Bohemian Garden quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!
2. Wash it, but only sometimes.
Before fully submerging your quilt into water, do a quick check and ask yourself these two questions:
- Can I spot clean it? If the quilt is mostly clean except for a bit of dirt the dog dragged in or a slight spill from a sippy cup, don't wash the whole thing, just spot clean those areas. (Read below on what to use.)
- Have I washed it this year? Unless you are using this quilt HARD, you shouldn't need to wash it more than once a year. Honestly, I don't even wash mine that often.If it smells, yes, time for a thorough washing. But if not? meh...wait.
The quilt above is the Rocksteady quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!
What soap should you use?
For many quilts, machine washing is okay. Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle and choose cold water. Also, pick up some mild detergent with NO bleach, like this fragrance free fine fabric soap.
I have also heard a lot of good buzz about Orvus. It's a detergent with a neutral pH balance and no added harmful chemicals or enzymes. Apparently some museums clean their textiles with this stuff. Since Orvus was originally designed for washing horses (I don't think we should let that scare us off. Show horses need to get really clean!) you only need about a tablespoon per load of laundry.
It looks like you can buy a large jar of Orvus or a more manageable jar of the same stuff that has been rebranded as "Quilt Soap." My recommendation is if you give a lot of quilts away, and want to include this soap, get the larger jar and divvy it out into some cute smaller containers. Remember, you only need a small amount per load!
For more on washing, read How to Wash and Care for a Quilt.
Worried about dyes bleeding?
If you are worried about fabric bleeding, throw in some Shout Color Catchers or Retayne (or both). Shout Color Catchers catch dye that bleeds into the wash water and locks it up so it can’t be really mean and latch on to your lighter colors. Retayne helps to seal dye into the fabric.
For more specifics on preventing bleeds or if you are in the middle of a bleeding crisis, read this post on How to Fix Fabric Bleeds.
Washing a vintage quilt?
For vintage, hand-quilted, or hand-appliquéd quilts, hand washing is a smart move, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. Choose a clean tub or reaaaallllly big sink, and fill it with cold water and gentle detergent. There are detergents on the market branded specifically for vintage fabrics. I don't know if they really are different than basic gentle detergents or if it's just marketing. You'll have to do your own digging on that. The two I'm most interested in are All American Quilt Wash and Restoration Hypoallergenic Powder. I'll let you know if I try them out.
Completely submerge your quilt and agitate it gently for about 10 minutes. Drain the soapy water, and then refill. The second time, either fill with clean water and rinse or add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar. The vinegar clears the quilt of any detergent residue, and softens it up. Repeat rinsing until the suds are totally gone.
3. Show it off!
New quilts (and old quilts, too!) deserve to be put on display! You can display quilts on the tops of beds (so practical!) or on cool quilt ladders (so trendy!), or you can hang quilts on your wall like the gorgeous works of art they are.
The quilt above is the Bayside quilt pattern. Click here to find it in the shop!
4. Know your stats!
Every quilt has its own unique story, and that story should be known and shared, too! Give a little “Quilt Profile” along with your quilt, so its new owner can know it’s personality a little bit better. Be sure to include any special fabrics you used, type of batting, how it was quilted, and any other special tidbits you want people to know.
This is a lot to remember, so you may not want to try to cover all this info in the ten seconds it takes to put the quilt in someone else’s hands (plus, they’ll be so excited about looking at their new quilt, they probably won’t be listening). So… here’s a handy card you can pass on to your lucky gift-ee!
Do you have a fun quilt gifting story? I love a good quilt gifting story. I actually have one from a few weeks ago. My good friend was over visiting with her 5 year old daughter. I had recently finished making a felt mobile for my new nursery and this little girl was completely mesmerized by it. Before they left I got out a quilt and said, "Alicia, I think you're old enough now for a big girl quilt. Would you like this quilt?"
She looked me straight in the eyes and politely said, "No thank you, but I would like a mobile."
HAHAhahaha! Oh I love the honesty of children!