Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Folding Quilts: Storing and Shipping without Creases

Summer Sanctuary, quilt by Ann Fahl 48 x 53 inches*

It has been a long time since I wrote the article for Quilter's Newsletter Magazine about bias folding. Without a doubt it is the all time most popular topic I've ever authored.

Since birth, I've been a textile person. My great grandmother gave me a quilt, which was nothing but a tiny strip of cloth by the time it got to my youngest sister.  All that was left was a piece of binding, perhaps 2 feet long, she called it her "yum yum."  My quilts have changed since then.......

Creases in Quilts

From the beginning of my quilting career in 1978, it troubled me that women would unwrap their precious quilts to share with others and that horrible center fold would mar the overall effect of the quilt because it was on the straight of the grain. These creases became a breast sticking out in the middle of the design that destroyed the appearance of their beautiful work.

Folding in Thirds


Several years later an instructor mentioned that if one folded a quilt in thirds instead of halves, this wouldn't happen.  And she was right. Chances are the quilt wouldn't be creased in the same place twice when divided in three.  This was the beginning of my quest to find a way to send and exhibit my quilts without hard creases.

Rolling Quilts


The obvious way was to roll my quilts on cardboard tubes or small PVC pipes.  Wrap the cardboard with muslin to protect the fabrics from glue and other chemicals in the paper.  To this day, I continue to store all my quilts this way.  When shipped, there is extra cost involved when sending tubes.  For the most part, show producers can deal with receiving and reshipping the tubes.

Shipping Quilts 


First I used 4" PVC piping with rubber caps. This worked quite well, but the PVC eventually cracked. Unfortunately they weighted quite a bit and this method became too expensive. Next, I began using the telescoping boxes from Uline S-4872T.  These are much lighter and easy to ship. But the boxes are becoming quite expensive.  If the quilt shipped is quite large there are additional charges involved in sending extra long packages.

Folding Quilts and How-To

So, I'm back to sending my quilts in square boxes. This is the most economical method. Then there is the same old problem: the quilt arrives at its destination with hard creases.  The answer is to fold the quilt on the bias.

This is how it is done.

Lay out the quilt on a table or flat surface. Fold the first corner into the middle.

Take the second corner and fold toward the middle.
Fold the third corner, notice that the corner goes past the edge.

The third corner has been folded under.
The last corner has been folded up and anything that hangs over has been tucked in, just like before.

You now have a neat little package to fit on a shelf in the linen closet, a shipping box, in the tote bag to take to guild meeting, or your suitcase.  If it is too big to fit the space, then open up the quilt and bring the corners further into the quilt and your package will be smaller. After you've done this a couple of times, you'll be comfortable with the procedure.

Why does this work?


When a fiber is folded on the straight of the grain, or on top of itself, the fiber is crimped really hard.  If a fiber is folded on the bias, the fold is much softer and causes less damage to the threads in the fabric. When a quilt is bias folded, it can be unfolded, shaken out, and the creases will hang out quickly. When folded on the straight, especially for a long time, the creases may never come out.

When shipping to shows


Bonnie Browning asked me to state that AQS would prefer that entrants fold the quilt with the right side on the outside of the package. Fold your quilt in which ever way you feel is appropriate for your purpose.  But always fold on the bias!

Happy folding, and have a good summer.  I'm going to work out in the garden.

*I chose this quilt Summer Sanctuary  to demonstrate the technique because it has a green front and a red back. It is easier to distinguish between the two!


Rachel said...

I tell all my friends and relatives about your bias folding concept. Thanks so much, Ann.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Great post and concept . . . thanks for sharing it!!!

Barbara Dieges said...

Normally I keep my quilts unfolded on a bed in the guest room, but I have company coming and was just thinking and cringing about "folding" all of them. Just saw this in the Glendale Quilt Guild's newsletter. Thank you for a great technique, it will be a quilt saver for sure.

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