I definitely have a thing for old textiles. I love table linens, fabric, clothing, embroidery, quilts…you name it. I’m always drawn to the “linen lady’s booth” in antique stores. I like to look through the stacks to see if anything catches my eye. I’m usually looking for blue and white, of course, nubby linen, pretty monograms, crochet trim…things that will compliment the decor of my home, but also pieces that I can use as-is or repurpose.
Because what is the point of having stacks of linens if you don’t ever use them?
True, a stack of linens can look pretty in a cabinet, but did you know linens can get stained as much from not being used as they can from being used? That’s a totally unscientific statement, but I have observed that they can turn yellow from starch, acquire “dust lines” at the folds, or fade in the sun. So, use them, I say! If I can’t actually use a piece and throw it in the washer and dryer, it’s not worth having in my house.
So, what about quilts that are the wrong size for modern-sized beds?
Most old quilts are twin or full-sized. Some of them are 3/4, crib or lap quilts, but most of them are twin or full. And most of the beds in homes nowadays are queens and kings.
I still use them on every bed in our house. I just fold them long-ways and put them at the foot of the bed to add some color and another layer of warmth when needed.
By folding the quilt long-ways, it can hang over the ends of a queen or king bed, so it looks like it fits, even if it’s too small.
The colorful wedding ring quilt is an antique from my husband’s grandmother. She didn’t make it, but she had quite the collection of beautiful old quilts before she passed away.
We also use an antique quilt at the foot of our bed and I feel like it’s being used everyday, even if it’s just “light-duty” use.
Another way I use quilts in my house is to fold them over the backs of sofas and chairs and on our ottoman.
They add some color to the white furniture and we do actually use them when we’re snuggling up for a movie.
A few tips on using antique quilts every day…
- If it’s a really delicate quilt, those are best folded over chairs that are only used occasionally.
- If a quilt is musty, dingy or stained, put it in the washing machine on the delicate cycle with a gentle soap. Line dry or machine dry on low. I’m often surprised how well these old quilts hold up to a washing and how pretty they look when they are freshly laundered.
- If you notice holes or tears that are going to be easy to snag and make larger, put a simple running stitch or whipstitch in to close the hole. Some of my favorite linens have visible repairs. You know it was loved if it was worth fixing.
So, get those quilts out of the closet and enjoy their functional beauty!