How to care for heirloom fabrics

This heirloom quilt made in 1889 in the “Village Square” pattern is owned by Mary Day Musgrave of Grand Junction.

How can you safely clean an heirloom quilt?

When Julia Brennan hears that question, she says dry cleaners and washers and dryers are off-limits.

The Washington, D.C., textile conservator recommends a vacuum with a soft brush attachment and low suction. If it’s delicate or frayed, put nylon net, similar to a window screen, over it first.

She gives this and other tips about preserving textiles in Family Tree magazine.

When storing an antique quilt, she says to fan-fold it and put crushed tissue paper between the layers. Wrap it in tissue or cotton sheets. Do not use plastic, which traps moisture. Store the quilt in an acid-free box. You can watch her instructional video at

Brennan also will share her expertise from 1:30–
3:30 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Junction. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 at the door. The event is a fundraiser for P.E.O., Chapter DY. For tickets, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 970-241-7922.

Several local chapter members plan to have Brennan look at their heirloom textiles. Mary Day Musgrave, for example, will bring a quilt “made and given to my mother’s great-grandfather, John Orr, by his grandmother in 1889.”

The backing and binding of the quilt, made in a “Village Square” pattern, show some damage.

Musgrave also has lace, handmade by her family members between 1880 and 1890, and hopes to learn how to properly care for it.

Glenda Moore, also a chapter member, cherishes an 8-inch round doily made by her great-grandmother and given to her by her grandmother. A hole has been worn in the cotton center, and the crocheted edge needs repair. She will bring it.

“I also had two quilts,” Moore says, “one made by my grandmother, one by my husband’s grandmother. Both were too worn to be used as quilts so I made table runners, pillow tops, and place mats out of them, so that my sister, my two daughters-in-law and I could have some usable remembrance of them.”

One of the pillow covers has a worn spot, and Moore hopes it can be fixed, too.


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