Apr 12, 2011

Storing Your Vintage Textiles

By Susan (tparty)

Do you have a cherished collection of vintage linens? Or maybe you have a stash of tablecloths that you plan to list in your Etsy shop sometime. If so, proper storage is essential to preserve these textiles. 

Vintage Embroidered Table Runner with Pink Roses by vintagelinens.
Items must be washed and fully dry before storing. (For tips on cleaning your vintage textiles, click here.) For long-term storage, wrap textiles individually in acid-free tissue paper and place them in acid-free cardboard boxes. These products can be purchased online from archival supply vendors.

Antique White Linen Tablecloth by Nachokitty.
Textiles should never be stored directly on wood, which contains acids that can damage the fabric. When storing linens on wooden shelves, in drawers or trunks, place several sheets of acid-free tissue paper as a barrier between the wood and the items. Also, textiles need to breath, so never store them in plastic.

Large items can be stored on hangers in a closet. Place acid-free tissue between the hanger bar and the textile and drape another piece over the top to keep dust off.

Feed Sack Quilt Postage Stamp Design by MellowMermaid.
When storing linens, the less folding, the better. Avoid wear at the creases by padding the folds with acid-free tissue and refolding linens frequently. To avoid folding altogether, roll textiles around a cardboard tube. For smaller items, use tubes from paper towels or wrapping paper. Tubes for larger items can be obtained from stores that sell bolts of fabric. Be sure to use a barrier of several sheets of acid-free tissue between the roll and the textile, as well as a layer between each item.

Making Your Own Linen Roll

My antique linen roll stores over a dozen French linens from the early 1900's. 
Linen rolls were popular from the 1890’s through the early 1950’s. They are a handy way to store precious textiles and are easy to make out of a large cardboard tube and fabric. Simply sew a cover to go around the tube out of laundered cotton fabric. Along one side, extend a length of yardage that will wrap around the outside once the textiles are in place. Lay your textiles on the cotton fabric in layers, with acid free tissue between each. Then roll up the outer fabric around the tube and add a fabric tie to close securely.

Written by Susan Borgen and reprinted with permission from Interweave Press/Studios Magazine.


Nachokitty said...

This is a fantastic post!!

My problem is wool moths. I've managed to keep them out of my business, but they're in my home. I don't want to use anything toxic.

They have eaten little holes in my children wool felted toys and my husbands sweaters.

I'm paranoid and the only solutions I see involve exposing the children to nasty chemicals. Ideas?

Susan from The T-Cozy said...

Here's a link to a site that has directions for making your own safe, moth repellent sachets from dried herbs. May be worth a try...


Vintage Linens said...

I try to refold old linens at least once a year and acid free storage is definitely a must. You give great advise. Thanks for including my embroidered dresser scarf.


Niftic Vintage said...

Fabulous Tips! You don't even want to see my linens, stacked everywhere, the poor dears.

Callooh Callay said...

Great article! Another question: I have a lot of heirloom quilts I'm about to put into storage (what else can I do? can't bear to part with them, and there are too many to use). I can't really picture rolling all of them on tubes--there are about 20. I was just going to put them into plastic tubs and be done with it.

So sounds like I need to rethink this--would interleaving them with tissue paper be sufficient do you think, or am I going about this wrong?

Nachokitty said...

Callooh, it somewhat depends on the length of time they'll be stored and where you're going to store them.

If you have any chance of mice, silverfish, etc, cardboard boxes will be munched up. In that case, plastic boxes may be important. Just don't use plastic bags. Those are the worst.

I fold my quilts loosely with acid free tissue in every fold. Then I wrap them in tissue and surround them with a clean cotton white sheet.