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Thread: Questions about displaying an antique quilt

  1. #1
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    Questions about displaying an antique quilt

    Hey guys. New to the forum.

    I have a 1930s farmhouse quilt. It has quite a bit of value to me personally, and it is beautiful. I really want to display it. Right now I just have it draped over an antique clothing rack which only allows for half of one side to be viewed.

    Everything I can find on displaying antique quilts suggests sewing a sleeve or velcro directly to the quilt. This seems very intrusive and damaging in my opinion. I do not want have to alter the existing quilt.

    Does anybody have any alternative options for displaying a quilt like this?

    It is roughly 80 x 60" and heavy. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    One can hand sew hanging sleeves on the back by hand. They can be removed later.

    If it is very heavy, maybe put two hanging sleeves on the back to distribute the weight?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by comma View Post

    It is roughly 80 x 60" and heavy. Thanks!
    If you have enough room then perhaps a slant board. You might find this from the Nebraska State Historical Society useful https://history.nebraska.gov/sites/h...Textiles_0.pdf

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  4. #4
    Super Member JenniePenny's Avatar
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    I would use a wall mounted heavy drapery rod with metal drapery clips. an example is shown.
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  5. #5
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    That's beautiful, JenniePenny!

    I sew a sleeve on mine and insert a hanging rod, but I've never tried to hang up such a big heavy quilt. How about displaying it on a bed?
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    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I was told by a quilt shop owner that conserves antique quilts that old quilts need TLC--so she told my SIL to drape her's over a quilt stand, or a quilt ladder or even on a spare bed--as long as there's not direct (or even indirect) sunlight! And to refold it frequently.

  7. #7
    Super Member hobbykat1955's Avatar
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    I have one hanging o/loft wall. If very heavy then I hang as above on a drapery rod. No damage by hand sewing a sleeve on the back.

  8. #8
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    I hang mine also. Love the clips like JenniePenney. If you use cafe curtain rods instead of drapery rods, they will only hang about an inch from the wall.

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    Thanks so much guys!
    I've read in quite a few places that the metal clips are damaging to quilts. Are those a different kind that are pictured above?

    Has anyone tried the magnet based quilt mounts? Or wood hangers like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002BZDFT0...0668520_dpLink

    Is there any hard in draping it over a thick rod? As mentioned above, right now, it is draped over an antique steel clothing rack (half hanging on either side). Will this cause damage if hun long term?

    I do not want to fold the quilt in any way. So hanging or draping are my only real options. And I do not have an extra bed to lay it on unfortunately.

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    I should also mention that the quilt is made of old pieces of denim. Not sure if that matters for display methods or not

  11. #11
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    The problem with clip hangers and the wooden hangers you linked to, they put a lot of stress on the quilt at the points where these are attached. The best and safest way to hang a quilt is with a hanging sleeve. The sleeve distributes the weight of the quilt evenly along the entire width of the quilt and does not put any undo stress on any one small area. If you are truly concerned about a handsewn hanging sleeve causing damage or being intrusive, I encourage you to contact a local museum and speak to the textile curator and they can tell you the best way of dealing with your quilt. But IMHO a hanging sleeve is the way to go, just make sure the quilt is out of direct sunlight.
    I live very close to the Bennington museum where the famous Jane Stickle quilt is (aka Dear Jane quilt). They only display the quilt a few months out of the year and the quilt is on a slant board and in a back room where there is no chance of any UV light. A slant board is safest but takes up a lot of room and the angle is such that it really isn't a viable solution for a home based display. UV light more than anything will do damage to the quilt so I would really be more concerned about that.
    Another option, that will be very costly, is have the quilt professionally framed on acid free archival board and mounted under UV glass.

  12. #12
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    if hung, even lighter quilts will sag over time, and a heavy one particularly so. If you end up wanting to sleeve and hang put sleeves on both ends and turn at least every six months. Laying it over something, same advice, turn often.

    We'd love to see the quilt, we are a bunch of photo junkies Wecome to the board!

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    Quote Originally Posted by KalamaQuilts View Post
    if hung, even lighter quilts will sag over time, and a heavy one particularly so. If you end up wanting to sleeve and hang put sleeves on both ends and turn at least every six months. Laying it over something, same advice, turn often.

    We'd love to see the quilt, we are a bunch of photo junkies Wecome to the board!
    Thanks! Hoping to get some decent photos soon

    For hanging over something (say a bar) since it is always hung the same (center of gravity) how would you suggest turning it or repositioning? Thanks!

  14. #14
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    My personal favorite for hanging a quilt is to use a "hang it dang it". It does require a sleeve, which I hand-sew onto the back. But it only requires one nail on the wall. You can buy different sizes for different sizes of quilts.

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    Has anyone ever tried "sandwiching" an antique quilt between a large piece of plexiglass and a board (Lined with archival paper or something)? Essentially making a frame? Would the plexiglass pressing up against the quilt cause damage?

  16. #16
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by comma View Post
    I should also mention that the quilt is made of old pieces of denim. Not sure if that matters for display methods or not
    Hard for me to see how denim can be harmed by normal folding. Care with folding antique quilts is usually concerned with the fabrics that are shattering due to time/light/dyes used in the day.
    The sagging concern comes from the seam lines, causing them to pop over time (and also the whole quilt being pulled out of square). Seams can be resewn, no problems.

    About flat between glass/plexi and a board, you'd still have to secure the quilt to the board, all the way around. Professionals probably use strips of velcro the full four sides. It might also have to be framed so bugs and moisture don't get in. Depends on the state of your finances I'd think. With a senior discount and using discontinued framing the 20" square painting I have at Michaels was $53.00 w/glass. The pen and ink Dover castle I had recently framed was closer to $300.00, about 18" X 30". So imagine what you are considering would cost.

    No one here would dissuade you from wanting to conserve something special to you! Just offering our multiple opinions again, welcome to the board!

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    Quote Originally Posted by KalamaQuilts View Post
    Hard for me to see how denim can be harmed by normal folding. Care with folding antique quilts is usually concerned with the fabrics that are shattering due to time/light/dyes used in the day.
    The sagging concern comes from the seam lines, causing them to pop over time (and also the whole quilt being pulled out of square). Seams can be resewn, no problems.

    About flat between glass/plexi and a board, you'd still have to secure the quilt to the board, all the way around. Professionals probably use strips of velcro the full four sides. It might also have to be framed so bugs and moisture don't get in. Depends on the state of your finances I'd think. With a senior discount and using discontinued framing the 20" square painting I have at Michaels was $53.00 w/glass. The pen and ink Dover castle I had recently framed was closer to $300.00, about 18" X 30". So imagine what you are considering would cost.

    No one here would dissuade you from wanting to conserve something special to you! Just offering our multiple opinions again, welcome to the board!

    Thanks!
    Does "draping" the quilt (unfolded) cause the same concerns? I currently have it draped (with several other blankets under it to give padding to where it folds over the bar)

    As for the plexiglass, I have "framed" a few antique military bags by just sandwiching the piece between plexiglass and a board and clamping the two pieces together. I would assume the same might be able to work with a quilt. It would stay in place simply by pressure. But plexiglas would constantly be pressed up against the quilt and I don't know if that will harm it.

    A 60x80" piece of acrylic is about $80 and a piece of plywood to match would be about $20. Then you would just need some clamps.

    I may be overthinking this, I just absolutely love this quilt and want to be able to look at it every day while also preserving it.

    Thanks!

  18. #18
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    I used to do some work for a fabric/textile conservator. I have a small bed sized quilt made about the 1860's by my great grandmother. It was not in good shape. I wanted to hang it so the conservator did it for me. She made a wooden frame. She put a complimentary plain fabric over the frame and stapled it to the back side of the frame. Then by hand, she hand basted the quilt with large stitches up down and across to the fabric she had stapled to the frame. That way, the quilt was supported throughout the quilt. Eventually, I didn't want to hang it any longer and just took out the large basting stitches from the backing that had been stapled to the frame. It didn't hurt the quilt and I didn't have to pull on the top of the quilt to get the stitches out. I have since rolled the quilt in acid free tissue paper and have it stored in a chest.
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  19. #19
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    One can hand sew hanging sleeves on the back by hand. They can be removed later.

    If it is very heavy, maybe put two hanging sleeves on the back to distribute the weight?
    I have an antique tapestry that belonged to my grandparents hanging above my fireplace. I just hand sewed a sleeve on the back and used one of the HangitDangit hangers. It's works great and is not intrusive at all.

    After reading the rest of the posts, I'd say that you could put it between plexiglass and plywood but you would have to cover the plywood to make sure it's no leeching into the fabric and also it would probably be best to seal the edges. If you leave it unsealed there is always the possibility of bugs getting into it and you might not notice with it displayed that way. I'm not sure about damaging the quilt by having it squashed between the glass and the back. It seems like that might be hard on it.
    Last edited by cashs_mom; 04-30-2019 at 12:39 PM.
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  20. #20
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    Granted I am very new to sewing/quilts but I just don't know if I could bring myself to put a needle through this quilt. Really hoping to find an option where I can avoid that.

    My quilt is also very heavy. I feel like sewing a sleeve is going to put a ton of pressure on the areas that the sleeve is sewn to the quilt.

    Is draping ok in this situation? I might just leave it as is, draped over a clothing rack on casters and just turn the rack every so often to display the other side.

    Just curious if this will somehow put strain on the quilt where each side drapes down
    Last edited by comma; 04-30-2019 at 12:46 PM.

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