Wow Sherry! That information is worth the price of admission. My father-in-law had a quilt from one of his relatives that looked very old and had some serious wear and tear and stains. I'm sure when it was made no one gave a thought to proper storage. When I saw it it was on a wooden quilt rack. I had no clue that wasn't a good thing to do. I had the idea to reproduce it someday but it was destroyed by a fire. I don't even have a picture of it. Very unfortunate. However, I'm glad I have the info on how to keep future heirlooms looking beautiful for years. Thank you so much!
I don't know if anyone is interested, but I would like to pass along some knowledge that I have acquired over the seven years I have worked in a musuem with a large quilt/textiles collection. Many quilters may need some advice on how to store their quilts - especially antique heirlooms.
There are a couple of tried and true methods that don't take up much room and there are a couple of things you should NEVER do. So, I guess I'll start with the "dont's." NEVER, EVER store your quilts in a wooden quilt box, cedar chest or hang on a wooden rack without creating a barrier between the wood and your quilt. I learned the hard way with one of my quilts and had a textiles conservator confirm the fact for me. Wood, stained or unstained, over the years will release substances that will stain your quilt. You will have brown spots turn up even on parts of the quilt that may not be in contact with the wood.
If you are using a wooden quilt box for storage, go to your local art supply store and buy sheets of what is called "foam core." The store employees will know what you mean. Cut the sheets to fit the sides and bottom of your box, creating a lining that completely separates the wood from your fabric.
Then fold your quilts, using acid free tissue between layers and scrunching it to pad out the folds. Lastly, make a sack of unbleached muslin and slip the quilt inside, tying the end closed with cotton twill tape or twine. This allows the quilt to "breathe" but keeps dust and critters out. Stack the padded and bagged quilts in the lined quilt box. You can even top it off with another piece of foam core if you have room. Occasionally, when you have nothing else to do - ha, ha - rotate the quilts from top to bottom.
If you don't have a quilt box, you can use the same method in a large plastic box. The foam core barrier is not necessary, but muslin should still be used in case the plastic off-gasses at all.
An even better method of storing your quilts, the method museums prefer, is to roll them. Go to your local carpet store and ask for some of the long cardboard tubes they are going to dispose of. When you get them home, vacuum them well. Cut the tube about 12" longer than the width of your quilt. Cover the tube completely, into the ends, with heavy duty aluminum foil. Cardboard is VERY ACIDIC and over time will damage your quilt if no barrier is created. Next, cover the foil with either a layer of muslin or acid free tissue. (DON't use tape to hold the tissue in place. The adhesive can migrate over time and stain your fabric.) Then, roll your quilt on the tube, interfacing with acid free tissue as you go. The idea is that your quilt does not touch itself as you roll it around the tube. Finally, wrap it with unbleached muslin and tie in several places along the length with cotton twill tape. The ends of the tube should stick out about 6" on each side, allowing you to tie a length of tape at each end, sort of sealing it. Then tuck the ends of the muslin inside the tube and you're done. Store it under your bed. A little dusting wouldn't hurt occasionally, as dust can be abrasive if it works into the muslin, which may be a good argument for wrapping the quilt with acid free tissue before the outer layer of muslin.
Another method that museums use is to fold and pad the quilts with acid free tissue and store in archival quality textile boxes. If you've got room to stack the boxes, they are great, but can be pricey.
If you're displaying your quilt on a wooden rod or rack, just wrap the rod with foil just the width of your quilt. It won't show and the barrier will protect your quilt from off-gassing.
I know this is a lot of information, but hopefully it will give you some ideas for how to safely preserve those wonderful quilts you spend so much time and love on.