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Thread: cedar chest and quilts

  1. #1
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    cedar chest and quilts

    I have an old cedar chest, was wondering if it is ok to store my quilts in it. What do you think? Is it safe?

  2. #2
    Super Member NikkiLu's Avatar
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    I don't think so.
    Nikki in MO

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    If you line the cedar chest with muslin, it would be okay. Alternatively, place quilts inside pillowcases. Cedar chests, as is the case with all wood products (cardboard, tissue paper, etc.), leaks an acid that will gradually eat fabric. Many vintage quilts that were stored unprotected in cedar chests come out with "rust" lines along the folds where the fabric touched the wood; that is the beginning of the acid damage.

    If you encase your quilts in pillowcases and take them out every year or so to wash the pillowcases (and refold the quilts along different lines), you would be okay.

  4. #4
    yel
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    not a good idea

  5. #5
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Well, I am surprised. I don't have a cedar chest, but I know that is where my grandmother kept all of hers. Guess that wasn't such a good idea. I learn something every day.

    Dina

  6. #6
    Super Member Nanny's dollface's Avatar
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    Dina, that makes two of us!

  7. #7
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    As I understand it, the purpose of cedar chests was storage that would be free of moths and other bugs that might damage the items.
    I think if you make sure the item is not touching the wood then it would still be a very desirable way of storing your quilts.

  8. #8
    sap
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    my mother stored family air looms in a cedar chest for 50 years, never took them out except to brag. at that time she would wash them, "because people had touched them," refolded the items put them back in the cedar chest and closed the top. we never noticed any damage. she has been gone over 30 years and I haven't noticed any since I've had the cedar chest.

  9. #9
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    Cedar chests, cedar-protected storage in general, are excellent protection against moths and other kinds of insect damage. I have never heard of 'leakage' damage at all. I highly recommend cedar.
    Maggie in Jerusalem
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/maggiemwdesigns

  10. #10
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    Even storing fabric in cardboard can cause stains (ask me how I know). I would agree, have a layer between the quilt and the raw wood.

    From HGTV.com

    Be aware that cedar stains.
    If you are storing clothing in a cedar chest or another wooden container, be sure to line it with acid-free paper, muslin or even old, clean, cotton bed sheets. This will keep the wood from contacting the clothing directly, which could stain or damage the item.

  11. #11
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I would line it with muslin, or wrap the quilts in a sheet before putting them in the chest. Cedar contains oils which repel insects, but the oil may soak into the fabric. I think the age, quality and the finish of the wood effects how it will interact with the fabric. Usually, the older the cedar is the more the oil has dissipated, but better be safe than sorry.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  12. #12
    Super Member valleyquiltermo's Avatar
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    I have stored quilts in my cedar chests for 30 years. I put them all in pillow cases and then change them every so many years.
    http://www.skillpages.com/DonnaValleyquiltermo
    Sweet Dreams come from under Cozy Quilts made with love.
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  13. #13
    Super Member Iamquilter's Avatar
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    Not unless you wrap them in acid free paper. The oil from the cedar will make brown spots on your quilt and you cannot get them out.

  14. #14
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    I have quite a few quilts in my cedar chest. I took some pieces of sheet plastic that Jim had and just used thumb tacks to secure it. I made very sure that every inch was covered before I put the quilts in. I have had no problem. I am sure it will be okay if you cover EVERY inch of the wood.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  15. #15
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    Interesting - I never knew this!

  16. #16
    Super Member donnajean's Avatar
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    I had my baby blanket which was hand crocheted by my mon in my cedar chest from the 70's. In the 90's I found that where the fabric folds touched the wood, the fabric deteriorated.

  17. #17
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Stored textiles also need air circulation, so take that into consideration along with the acid surface (wood) contact.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  18. #18
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    I would e-mail a company that makes cedar chests and get ther advice. I've had 2 chenille quilts stored in mine for years. They're white and still look new. I think they were called Martha Washington spreads or somethng like that and I can't bear to part with them.

  19. #19
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I have quilts and a comforter stored in a cedar chest. They are as good as the day (35 Years ago) I put them in it.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  20. #20
    Super Member MartiMorga's Avatar
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    So much information, I never knew!!! Interesting that some have and some have not been affected by the wood. Wonder if that has something to do with the age of the chest, maybe the treatment of woods long ago versus the treatment of woods today? Oh well, looks like to be a "safe or sorry" decision. Thank you for asking this important question and that you for all the great information!!!!
    God Bless Quilters and Sewers
    Marti

  21. #21
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    Well you learn something new every day! I found this on a quilting site:

    http://lequilts.com/?page_id=38

    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 a protective 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.

  22. #22
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Here is a good article about preservation of treasured textiles:
    http://www.mohistory.org/img/unCommo..._treasures.pdf

    #6 on the list mentions cedar chests.

  23. #23
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Just a thought - if you seal the inside of the cedar chest with polyurethane that will also eliminate the insect repellent properties.

  24. #24
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    I have stored in Cedar chest for years without damage. However, my sister had wood worms eat through her cedar chest and leave a small hole and then nested in her linens. My DH says this is possible if they used some of the sap wood (the wood on the outside of the tree) instead of the heart wood (the wood on the inside of the tree). Cedar woods contain oil but not acid. I think the difference is the fact that in old cedar chests, the oil has dried out and thus no stain on the linens.
    There is a chemical in the wood but it is not acid. Acid is in cardboard, paper and tissue paper and comes from the paper making process.
    Last edited by twinkie; 05-10-2013 at 02:46 AM.

  25. #25
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twinkie
    Cedar woods contain oil but not acid. ... There is a chemical in the wood but it is not acid. Acid is in cardboard, paper and tissue paper and comes from the paper making process.
    With all due respect to your DH, acids and oils are present in all wood and wood products, cedar included. Acid may be increased by the paper making process, I don't know, but it's definitely present within the tree itself before any processing. It's one reason why tree mulches, even cedar mulch, increase the acidity of your soil.

    To the OP, some here have had good experiences storing in cedar or other wooden chests, some have not. Even unsealed wooden shelves and corrugated cardboard boxes can discolor and deteriorate the fibers of textiles. Examples have been given on several other threads over the years, some are truly heartbreaking. Only you can decided what your risk tolerance is.
    Last edited by ghostrider; 05-10-2013 at 03:43 AM. Reason: typo
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

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