Quilting Tips from Desert Threads

Blanca Sanchez shows a quilt she made using a mix of traditional and modern blocks in a contemporary setting.

The hot summer months in the south half of Arizona is when many of our quilters will catch up on unfinished projects, start new ones, prepare holiday gifts, or escape to the high country. Perhaps they go on a tour of quilt shops or quilt shows in out-of-town locations. There are many shops around the state, so if you go, bring back stories or new show and tell when we start meeting again in September and October.

Recently, one of the Desert Threads members, Diana Jones, passed along this information about what to do with old quilts:

“You may be experiencing some of the same thoughts many of us at a mature age ask. My mother was a quilter, and I understand your fond memory of quilts. First of all, be sure to put a label on the back of the quilt. Whoever will inherit your quilts will at least know who made the quilt and the timeframe of when the quilt was made. If for a special occasion, put that, too. You might even put why you cherish the quilts. If you have more than one person who will inherit your items, you might consider cutting the quilt into squares and framing them. Be sure to label whatever you do with the quilt.

“Always refold your quilt in different shapes. Fold it like an envelope, corner to corner. If you continue to fold a quilt perfectly square, it will begin to wear on the fold lines. I take my quilts out about every six months and refold differently. Store in cotton pillowcases, not plastic.

“If you Google ‘What to do with antique quilts,’ you will find ideas for your quilts.

“The younger generation just does not value our dishes, silverware, linens, quilts, and other things that we mature gals love. They prefer paper plates and plastic utensils. ‘Just make life simple,’ is what I hear all the time.

“My mother’s home is in Lakeside, Ariz. I have been slowly cleaning the house out for my sons to inherit. This past summer, I had several old quilts that I believe were made in the 1930s. My grandmother had made the quilts. Since no one in my family wanted them, I washed them and took them to the Humane Society thrift store in the White Mountains. Because they used real cotton batting in the quilts, the quilts had brown spots where the cotton seeds lay. They told me that they would just put the quilts in the trash, as they were ‘dirty.’ I took them back home with me.”

Continue to watch our column for future tips for quilt makers, collectors, and those who inherit quilts (or are gifted a quilt). Many hours go into the making of a quilt (even those done by machine), so appreciate and treasure the handiwork and the artistry.

Desert Threads is a chapter of Arizona Quilters Guild. We meet the second Wednesday morning of each month, September through May. We welcome everyone.