Quilt Care 101 – Part 1 – Light


Your quilts are valuable – but please don’t put them away. Enjoy them!

In Part 1 of Quilt Care 101, we’ll discuss the effect of light on fabrics. Follow some simple care tips, and your precious quilts will stay looking like new for decades.

Part 1 – LIGHT

One of the most damaging influences on a quilt’s longevity is light. Although fading creates the most recognizable damage, light also creates an irreversible effect upon the physical structure of fibers. In extreme conditions, light can eventually turn textiles into dust.

Light damage to fibers involves photons and molecules and their reactions to each other. Without getting into quantum physics, all you really need to know is this: both direct and indirect sunlight can damage quilts on a molecular level. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of the light that is directed toward your quilts. Draw the curtains in bedrooms where your new or antique quilts are used on beds, or place a sheet over the quilt when the drapes are open. The colors won’t fade and they will remain looking like new. Another option – using UV-filtering materials over windows, fluorescent bulbs, and in the glass of frames – will guard your precious textiles from light damage.

What about light bulbs? Fluorescent lighting causes more damage than incandescent bulbs and should be filtered. Keep the distance from your quilt to incandescent lights at least 10 to 12 feet away. Spotlighting is not recommended, unless you have advice from a lighting expert.

Consistent awareness of the amount and types of light aiming toward your quilt or fabric wallhanging will be worth the effort. Consider rotating the quilts you display; you’ll enjoy the change, and your quilts will, too!

Coming soon:  Part 2 – Humidity and Temperature

Make your next quilt gift extra-special. Tuck in The AQS Guide to Quilt Care by AQS-certified quilt appraisers Bobbie A. Aug, Carol Butzke, Linda Honsberger, & Gerald Roy. This handy booklet explains quilt care and describes folding and storage techniques, along with display and shipping hints, resources, and much more.

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Rosemary Rivas

Hopefully the new windows we are having installed in our renovation that block UVA/UVB light will prevent fading of quilts.
I know you stated that fluorescent lights are not good for quilts, but what about LED? They’re the new standard and very bright?

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