We include detailed care instructions with every memory quilt, memorial quilt and bespoke quilt with specific advice where necessary. Here’s some extra advice and information about caring for your new quilt.
How Your Memory Quilt Is Made
All our patchwork quilts are carefully crafted and if cared for correctly should give you many years of use.
The starting point for good quilt care is to understand the materials that your memory quilt is made from.
We use a good quality 100% cotton batting (the ‘filler’ material in the quilt). This should withstand normal use and washing very well. Any additional fabrics, e.g. quilt backing, are 100% cotton quality patchwork fabrics, and we use mostly 100% cotton thread (although sometimes polyester or rayon for applique or embroidery work).
Patchwork pieces are joined using a very short stitch length which should be strong and durable. The three layers of the quilt are held together with machine quilting, again the most durable form of quilting.
Washing Your Keepsake Memory Quilt
Any quilt should be cared for according to the most delicate/colourfast item of fabric in the quilt. As memory quilts and blankets often contain a variety of types of material this is particularly important to consider when washing your memory quilt.
It’s a good idea to think about this when deciding what clothing to use in the quilt (although not usually an issue with baby clothes quilts).
Many ‘dry clean only’ fabrics can infact be hand washed with a suitable detergent. If your quilt includes fine silk, woollen items or other very delicate fabrics then it may not be suitable for wet washing. If at all unsure then it is worth consulting a professional cleaning company for advice.
If your quilt contains fabrics which are brightly coloured (including the backing), and have not been washed many times before, then there is a risk of the colours running. A good protection against this is to use ‘colour catchers’ (available from supermarkets). They look a bit like tumble dryer sheets and ‘suck up’ any escaping dye. Colour catchers are a useful addition to your washing arsenal! They really do work but don’t skimp – I generally chuck in the whole packet to be safe.
The dyes used in most modern patchwork fabrics are pretty colour fast. We pre-wash very dark colours but mostly don’t bother and have not had any issues.
For most patchwork memory quilts we recommend either
- A machine wash – gentle or hand-wash cycle – 30 degrees
- Hand-wash in cool water – the bath is a good place to do this!
Wash your quilt on its own (or with a small pale coloured towel). It’s important not to overload your machine or the quilt will not wash properly and you may damage your machine. If your quilt doesn’t comfortably fit the drum with plenty of free space then I’d recommend professional cleaning in a large capacity machine.
Use a gentle detergent. It’s best to avoid those with optical brighteners, or all-in-one versions. I don’t use a fabric conditioner. Remove your quilt from the machine as soon as the cycle has finished. This helps to prevent any creases setting.
Keep washing to a minimum as colours will eventually fade. Dry cleaning is not recommended for quilts that are used on a bed due to chemicals used, and I definitely wouldn’t want to do that for anything used by a child.
What to expect
The first time you wash your quilt it will shrink slightly. This especially applies to new fabrics that haven’t been pre-washed. This is totally normal and helps the quilting stitches to settle into the fabric. Your quilt will look slightly different after it’s first wash, and should look even better with an ‘antiquey’ finish. The hotter the water and more aggressive the wash cycle the more it will shrink, so going gently is best.
The name appliques on our memory quilts and blankets use raw edge applique. The edges of the appliques will fray slightly when the quilt is washed and with use. This is intentional and a feature of the technique. For quilts which have a large amount of raw edge applique then extra care should be taken when washing.
If your quilt includes photographs then it’s best to wash the quilt only when absolutely necessary as the ink will not withstand repeated washing and colours will fade over time.
Drying Your Memory Quilt
Quilts are best dried flat, away from direct heat. Wet quilts are very heavy and if they are not dried flat there is a risk that there will be too much strain on the stitches and this will damage the patchwork and the quilting. This probably won’t be too much of a problem for small quilts.
Putting a wet quilt in a dryer also puts a considerable strain on the quilting stitches, and is likely to damage the quilt unless it is very small. It may also cause excessive/uneven shrinkage. Never dry an applique or photo quilt in a tumble dryer.
For quilts made from adult clothes or baby clothes then it can be helpful to gently reshape the quilt while it is damp, as the fabrics may react differently to being washed. Your quilt may also benefit from a gentle press with a warm iron after drying. Take care with any photos as a hot iron may muddy the inks
A quilt that is almost dry can be finished in the dryer on “air” setting with no or very low heat. This can help drop out any remaining creases, and restore some bounce and softness to the quilt.
Storing Your Memory Quilt
The best place for a patchwork quilt is laid out on a bed.
All fabrics fade in direct sunlight so this is best avoided if possible. Photos will fade very quickly in these conditions.
If you do need to store your quilt, then wash before storing for any significant period of time, and ensure quilt is completely dry. Roll rather than fold, and wrap in a sheet or pillowcase to allow the quilt to breathe – never in plastic! If you do have to fold, then take it out from time to time and fold in different place to avoid permanent creases.
If moths are a problem then you may wish to include some protection with the quilt.
A couple of safety notes
The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) recommends that you do not use a duvet, quilt or pillow as bedding for children under one year (see http://fsid.org.uk). Please also note our quilts are not designed for use as loose covers on upholstered furniture. Keep away from fires and naked flames.