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Thread: How to store fabric out of light. Does light fade fabric?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Deb53's Avatar
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    How to store fabric out of light. Does light fade fabric?

    I am planning to redo my sewing room and have been thinking about how to store my fabric. In the past I have read that fabric color does fade from light exposure and you should have the fabric stored out of light. Now I realize that "light" is different for every room situation - light bulbs, window light, sunlight, etc. I have seen fabric where the outer folded edge was affected by how it was stored.
    Does anyone have opinions about this and/or good ways to store fabric??
    I've attached a photo of how I currently store my fabric.... in bankers boxes turned sideways.
    My next house I'll have a big room to start fresh with organizing it.
    Thanks for any input you may give.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    there is a UV film you can put over your windows (on the inside) that blocks some of the problem. We use it at the quilt shop where I work. But we have found that if fabric is stored right by the window, you can still have some fading. Fabric stored a little ways away had no ill effect.

  3. #3
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    I think you are mistaking light for sunlight. Direct sunlight is the light that fades fabric. Indirect sunlight doesn't fade; artificial light doesn't fade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    I think you are mistaking light for sunlight. Direct sunlight is the light that fades fabric. Indirect sunlight doesn't fade; artificial light doesn't fade.
    I wonder about that - the quilt museum in Paducah uses very subdued lighting.

    Also, a lot of shows request that no flashes be used when taking pictures of the quilts.

  5. #5
    Super Member Country1's Avatar
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    Direct sunlight a def no-no. I was wondering if the boxes you have it stored in is acid free?
    Country 1

  6. #6
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    I can't speak for the museum but I would guess that the subdued lighting is due to the fact that colors show to their best advantage in that light. Bright artificial light will flatten out colors, make them appear dull, lack luster and even fainter than they truly are. The amount of distortion of color refraction depends on the amount of lumins, the color of the walls (how much reflection is going on), and other factors. Subdued lighting is common in all museums. Special high lighting is usually done with spot lights in the ceilings and these are designed so that there is no reflections or glare and they themselves are soft lights. But if artificial lights would fade, there would be no spot lights on paintings, quilts, carpets, tapestries, etc.

  7. #7
    Junior Member Deb53's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I'll be sure the fabric is not stored at the window area. The window is very large so I'll check into the UV film to put on the windows.
    Thanks again.

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    I think using the boxes for fabric storage is good. I just label mine with a sheet of paper on the front "RWB" "CQ", etc. I have fabrics that are 15 years old. No fading. That is as organized as I get!

  9. #9
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Do be careful that even flouresant bulbs will fade fabric. A friend hung a quilt in her office .. no outside source of light .. the only source was the overhead fixtures... and it faded. If you are redoing your room I would get solid doors on the area where you store fabric.
    Last summer I helped redo my Mom's sewing room... so much fabric had been damaged from sunlight and artifical lights.. it was a real shame . I put together some tall cabinets with doors so the fabrics can be protected from light and dust. My sewing room I only have the ability (currently) to put a sheet over the fabrics to protect them... its a pain and looks ...terrible. It is on my list of things to do to redo my fabric storage area.
    Museum use incandesent lights not flouresant over works of art , as the incandesant lighting does cause fading.
    It is hard to get all the lighting we love for sewing, but at the same time it is harmful to the fabrics we love/collect.
    Last edited by Lori S; 06-07-2012 at 07:01 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
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    I store all my fabric in a huge dresser, away from all light sources.

  11. #11
    Senior Member roguequilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    I think you are mistaking light for sunlight. Direct sunlight is the light that fades fabric. Indirect sunlight doesn't fade; artificial light doesn't fade.
    my personal experience in my former sewing room...w fabric on shelves out of any outside light..fading along edge of fold. incandescent light. and as the only time i had to sew was evenings ...over the table hanging light was in use for many many hors at a time. recent quilt show entry...owner upset by faded appearance of quilt less than 6 mo old gifted her by friend. i asked her where she had it displayed..living room.."a dungeon w/o good light from outside" she said main light used in that room was the ceiling light. i told her i believed that that was the problem, based on my own experience.
    the rogue quilter - in from wandering in the sun and snow with camera in hand.

  12. #12
    Senior Member roguequilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyquiltmom View Post
    I store all my fabric in a huge dresser, away from all light sources.
    good idea. am working on doing my basement..plan...shelves w sliding panels to cover them, that will also be my design wall. tho i may hang something over my wip as the tend to be up for extended tme as i sew/create pretties for grdaughters. had a star cntr for medalian style sampler quilt fade so bad that i can't use it now.
    the rogue quilter - in from wandering in the sun and snow with camera in hand.

  13. #13
    Senior Member roguequilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lori S View Post
    Do be careful that even flouresant bulbs will fade fabric. A friend hung a quilt in her office .. no outside source of light .. the only source was the overhead fixtures... and it faded. If you are redoing your room I would get solid doors on the area where you store fabric.
    Last summer I helped redo my Mom's sewing room... so much fabric had been damaged from sunlight and artifical lights.. it was a real shame . I put together some tall cabinets with doors so the fabrics can be protected from light and dust. My sewing room I only have the ability (currently) to put a sheet over the fabrics to protect them... its a pain and looks ...terrible. It is on my list of things to do to redo my fabric storage area.
    Museum use incandesent lights not flouresant over works of art , as the incandesant lighting does cause fading.
    It is hard to get all the lighting we love for sewing, but at the same time it is harmful to the fabrics we love/collect.
    thank you, that would have been my nxt question...flourescent. i tried the sheet thing when, after pulling out fabs to preview for nxt project, noted the fading on treasures that i had saved for just the right project. sheet is so ugly so..used the samples i stitched up out of colorful poly blends that i use to test my block patterns...i draft my own blocks & mostly use my own patterns for my quilts. didn't take too long for the uglies to hide away lollol. but, alas, to lighten moving load..i got rid of all poly fabs, all but my precious cottons. but a few panels of colorful polyblrpend fabs would look better than yuck sheets??
    the rogue quilter - in from wandering in the sun and snow with camera in hand.

  14. #14
    Senior Member pinecone's Avatar
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    I have fabric stored in a bookcase. I have a tension rod that has a short curtain on it to block the sun. It is a North facing exposure, not as intense as Westerly.

    piney

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    Quote Originally Posted by roguequilter View Post
    my personal experience ... i asked her where she had it displayed..living room.."a dungeon w/o good light from outside" she said main light used in that room was the ceiling light. i told her i believed that that was the problem, based on my own experience.
    Hard to argue with personal experience even if it isn't mine. I can only conclude the dyes in fabric are not as color fast as we would wish them to be, and personal experience varies from person to person. I'm sorry that you've had fading with your fabrics. They should be as color fast as the fabric upholstery on your furniture.

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    Super Member feffertim's Avatar
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    I have my fabric stored on bookcase shelves and I made a quilt to hang over the front to protect the fabric from the sun. works for me and doesn't look to bad.

  17. #17
    Super Member EmiliasNana's Avatar
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    Name:  shade over fabric.JPG
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Size:  996.1 KBI have a bookcase that I store some fabric on, out of direct sunlight (the rest is in the closet), but decided to be extra cautious and hang a room darkening shade inside the top couple inches of the bookcase frame. Had it cut to size at Lowe's and hung it backwards (so it rolled over the top and then down) I keep it down most of the time, but when I need something, it is so easy to just roll it up and select. Hope this helps. (Got the idea from using my retractable Design Wall one day and thought why not?)

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    Could you put a film on the plastic boxes to reflect? Love plastic boxes for storage but understand the light issue.

  19. #19
    Senior Member sylviak's Avatar
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    I have mine in a tall bookcase and I bought a fabric shower curtain at Goodwill for a couple of dollars, cut it in half lengthwise, shortened it and hung it on a curtain rod that I mounted at the top. Works great. Doors would probably look better, but a lot more trouble to put on!

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