Guide to caring for heirloom quilts: folding techniques, display ideas, and tips for preserving these cherished pieces of family history.

A cozy bed in a bedroom with a beautifully decorated quilt on it.
Heirloom quilt in attic bedroom.

What is an Heirloom Quilt?

An heirloom quilt is a special type of quilt that is passed down through generations within a family. It holds sentimental value and is often treasured as a family heirloom. These quilts are typically handcrafted with meticulous attention to detail and are made to be durable and long-lasting.

Red, white, and blue quilt on four poster bed in wallpapered bedroom with mannequin and bathrobe.
Guest bedroom quilt in Vermont.

Heirloom quilts are more than just blankets; they are tangible representations of family heritage and the skill of the quilters who created them. They embody past generations’ love, creativity, and craftsmanship, making them truly special and cherished pieces of family history.

Heirloom Displaying Quilt Pink and White on Sleigh Bed. in wallpapered bedroom with floral basket display and antique pitcher and basin.
Heirloom quilt in Vermont guest bedroom.

My Mother’s Creative Ways

In her later years, my mother loved making quilts. I always looked forward to what she would come up with next, with all different colors, patterns, and sizes. She wasn’t an expert by any means, but today, her quilts are my treasured family heirlooms.

Displaying Quilts Ideas

Heirloom Quilts in the Attic

On a recent rummage trip to our inherited Maine home’s attic, I discovered an old trunk filled with heirloom quilts and a few hand-knit blankets that my mother had stowed away. These blankets indeed dated back to her mother and my grandmother, who were quilt enthusiasts.

This inspired me to gather all my mother’s handmade quilts, with all their tears, wrinkles, and tatters, to fold and display in our downstairs guest room.

There was something about these quilts, too. Ella, our Bernese Mountain Dog, was wholly fixated on them while I was folding and decorating them. As you can see above, I even found her later roaming around the trunk in the attic.

Bernese Mountain Dog on wrought iron bed with handmade quilt.

This turned out to be a great way to cozy up our home as we head into the winter months.

Woman in Vintage Quilt Jacket with Bernese Mountain Dog, Vintage VW Fastback

You may also be inspired by this post on Quilt Jackets: The Trendy Vintage Fashion.

You may also be inspired by the Antique Trunk Restoration Made Easy post.

How Not to Fold a Beautiful Quilt

Do you have a collection of quilts you’ve always wanted to display? Do you know how to fold a large quilt so it looks pretty?

Many people, including me, think you fold an old quilt like a blanket. But different-sized quilts didn’t look right folded this way. It was much too cumbersome and bulky.

How not to fold quilts like blankets on dresser.

To properly care for a quilt and prevent damage, knowing how not to fold it is essential. Here are some guidelines to follow when displaying quilts:

  • Avoid folding along the same lines repeatedly: Folding a special quilt along the same lines over time can lead to permanent creases and weaken the fabric. Changing the folding pattern each time you store or transport the quilt is best.
  • Do not fold the quilt tightly: Folding a quilt too tightly can put unnecessary stress on the fabric and seams, leading to potential damage over time. Allow some room for the quilt to breathe and avoid excessive compression.
  • Avoid folding on sharp edges or corners: Folding a quilt on sharp edges or corners can cause creases and wear out those areas faster. Instead, try to fold the quilt on softer curves or rounded edges.
  • Do not fold a quilt when it is dirty or damp: Folding a quilt when it is dirty or damp can lead to mold or mildew growth. Ensure the quilt is clean and completely dry before folding and storing it.
  • Avoid folding a quilt for extended periods: If possible, avoid folding a quilt for long periods of time, as it can cause permanent creasing. If you need to store a quilt, consider rolling it instead of folding it to minimize stress on the fabric.
  • Do not store a quilt in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures: Exposure to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures can fade and weaken the fabric of a quilt. Store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to preserve its quality.
  • Do not store a quilt in plastic bags. Plastic bags can trap moisture and promote the growth of mold and mildew. For protection, the best option is to use a clean, breathable fabric bag or wrap the quilt in acid-free tissue paper.

By following these guidelines in a practical way, you can help preserve the beauty and integrity of your quilt for years to come.

Heirloom quilt displaying on bed in coastal bedroom.

How to Fold Heirloom Quilts

I learned how to properly fold a single quilt by watching homeowner Kimberly Kaufman, who has years of quilting experience and teaches an easy way to fold your quilts for display in home décor! Sponsored by Country Sampler Magazine.

You may see and read more of our Coastal Maine Home’s story, also featured in Country Samplers 2024 Spring issue.

Country Sampler Magazine Maine Home Feature

This folding technique is excellent, friends! I laid out each of my mother’s beautiful quilts on our dining room table, and it took about five minutes to fold each quilt. Super easy.

Folded Quilts displaying on antique dresser in guest bedroom with basket of tennis rackets and wrought iron bed.

How to Display Heirloom Quilts

Displaying a favorite quilt can be a wonderful way to showcase their beauty and preserve their legacy. Here are several tips and great ideas on how to display heirloom quilts:

  • Choose a suitable location: Select a location in your home free from direct sunlight, excessive humidity, and temperature fluctuations. Avoid areas near windows or heating/cooling vents, as these can damage the quilt over time.
  • Use a quilt rack or hanger: Invest in quilt display cases, wall quilt racks, and display cabinets designed explicitly for displaying quilts. These racks allow you to hang the quilt vertically to be fully visible. Ensure the rack is sturdy enough to support the quilt’s weight.
  • Consider a quilt ladder: A quilt ladder is another option for displaying multiple smaller quilts. It provides a decorative and functional way to showcase several quilts at once. Simply drape the quilts over the rungs of the ladder, ensuring they are evenly displayed.
  • Wall mounting: If you prefer to hang the larger quilts on the wall, use a quilt sleeve or fabric loops attached to the back of the quilt. This method allows the quilt to hang flat against the wall without putting stress on the fabric. Use a hanging system that is appropriate for the weight and size of the quilt is the best way.
  • Rotate your display: To prevent prolonged exposure to light and minimize wear, consider rotating the displayed quilts every few months. This allows you to enjoy different quilts and ensures that each quilt gets equal time on display.
  • Keep quilts clean: Regularly clean the quilts according to their specific care instructions to maintain their appearance and prevent dirt or dust buildup. Avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive agitation that can damage the fabric.

My mother’s heirloom quilts are now folded and displayed in a beautiful display on a vintage dresser that serves as our quilt stand in the home’s guest bedroom.

Now a focal point of this charming small guest bedroom.

Display of folded vintage quilts on bedroom dresser.

You may also enjoy the Coastal Bedding Ideas For Your Beach House post.

These heirloom quilts are in all their glory. They are not perfect, not professionally made, and definitely tattered, but they are exceptionally sentimental, and we love them this way.

And who knows, maybe I’ll find a pie cabinet like quilt enthusiast Kimberly’s to display the quilts.

Heirloom homemade quilts folded and on an antique dresser displaying quilts.

I arranged them from large to small with these heirloom quilts being different sizes.

I’m also using another folded quilt on this guest bed and another on our master bed.

Display of folded vintage heirloom quilts on bed and bedroom dresser.

I really believe in enjoying our family heirlooms and not just keeping them as display quilts for a whole new look.

You can see more of this small guest bedroom in this Small Cottage Guest Bedroom, Vintage, and Delightful post over the years.

Quilts folded and displayed on bedroom dresser in vintage style small bedroom
Vintage Braided Rug Book

You may also enjoy the Vintage Braiding Rug Stand | A Mother’s Day Reflection post, which features all of my mother’s handmade braided rugs.

Displaying Quilts with Embroidery Hoop

Here’s another simple small quilts displaying tips for you in different ways.

Fan a quilt or blanket and hang it through an embroidery hoop. I used the second smallest one in this package to hang this white vintage blanket on the back of our guest bedroom closet door as a unique, great option.

Embroidery Hoops

Simply lay out your blanket, quilt, or towel and fan the top of it. Then, hang your perfect quilt into the hoop and fan it all out.

Isn’t hanging an heirloom quilt as an attractive display on a living room or bedroom door such a unique and simple idea?

I think you may enjoy the post, 3 Wallpaper Bedroom Designs Emblematic of a Cozy Vermont Inn from our home in Vermont, too!

Remember, heirloom quilts are delicate and should be handled with care. By following these tips, you can proudly fold and display your heirloom quilts and share their beauty with others while preserving their integrity for generations to come.

Bernese Mountain Dog on bed.
And Ella still overseeing the heirloom quilts today.

A Vintage Affair

If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with your friends who are also vintage enthusiasts.

Do you have a flair for all things vintage, too? I would love to see and feature you in our Reader’s Showcase Series. A place for you to share and be recognized for your talents and passion for all things thrifting, vintage, and antique decor-related inspired by your time here with Dabbling & Decorating. Email me at

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Lifestyle of Love Blog Hop

Don’t stop here! Check out some of the other gals joining me below who are sharing their heirloom quilt decorating ideas, too. There’s so much inspiration!

A Lifestyle of Love blog hop hosted by my friend Cindy over at County Road 407.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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  1. Thank you! I enjoyed so much! Especially the quilt folding video!

  2. Mis e lain e ous says:

    Treasure your quilts, care properly for them. I lost my grandmother’s quilt, 11 of my Mother’s, one a birthday gift from a friend and one of mine when my house burned to the ground. I got a call at work my home was on fire, by the time I got there everything was consumed. The first I missed my quilts, second photos, my list was endless. I hadn’t been able to keep up with insurance. Working as a nurses assistant/caregiver barely paid the bills. My quilts were so precious to me, sentimental, oh, the memories, decor, not to mention how appreciated in the winter. Treasure and care for your quilts. Learn to care properly for them be thankful, appreciate them.Now I have none to enjoy or care for. Shatters my 💜.

    1. I treasure the quilts for sure and use them daily too. I’m sorry you lost yours, heartbreaking for sure! Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Cynthia Cross says:

    Thank you for this blog. I have many quilts and so many i can’t adequately display them all at once.
    I do have a beautiful little lap quilt we have hung above the window in our bedroom.
    I love the way the sun shines thru it making it look like stain glass. I dont want to take it down but I dont want it to fade either. I appreciate all of the useful information.
    Guess I have to make a decision about taking it down.

  4. Thanks for the wonderful tips, Ann! Lucky you that you have such a wonderful collection of your mom’s quilts. And so perfectly colored for your decor! Love the creative embroidery hoop idea, too; will have to give that a try somewhere.

  5. I had no idea I shouldn’t crease them forever. I’ll have to make sure and check them more often. Love your entire collection and how exciting to have so many of your moms! I wish I had more from family members but none of them quilted. I’m not even sure my mother even has a single quilt. Anyway, thanks for joining us and enjoy those lovely pieces that are so beautifully displayed in your home.

    1. Thanks so much Cindy, I’m sooo lucky to have this collection for sure. I treasure every one. Thanks for having me join you Cindy!

  6. You have the most beautiful quilts, Ann! And how special that they are treasured family heirlooms. I can never figure out how to fold mine. Can’t wait to go practice.Thanks for sharing your tips. Hi Ella!

  7. This is the first time I have seen your blog and truly enjoyed your video on how to properly fold a quilt. I do not have many and some were made by my mother who had limited vision. Even so, they are special! Thank you!

    1. I’m so happy to hear this Kathie💚❤️💙

  8. The quilts are pretty and love them displayed, I know they must be a heartfelt reminder of your mother when you see them. Well…Ella is just the sweetest girl. I am totally a sucker for photos that include the beautiful furry family members.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Jillian❤️❤️

  9. Lori houseonwren says:

    Very interesting blog post Ann! Loved the tik tok video with Ella. Your mother left you so many wonderful treasures. It is so nice to see you incorporating them into your home.

  10. I loved watching how to fold a quilt. There is nothing as beautiful as looking at a quilt and all the work that went into it. Such works of art and love.

    1. Wasn’t that so refreshing? I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  11. So, I just refolded all of my family quilts and they look too nice folded the same size in my antique cabinet. Thanks for sharing all of your beautiful quilts!!

    1. I’m so happy to hear this Teresa. Have a great weekend!

  12. Love the display of your heirloom quilts, first let me say, your Mom was AMAZING! She sounds like a powerhouse, her energy, lives on in you! You have taken up where she left off, and are building your own legacy! Everything you do, is heartfelt, and you always go the extra mile to make your house, a cozy wonderful home! Your Mom & Dad would be proud❤️
    Always a fan,

    1. Oh Deb that’s just the nicest thing to say. Thank you my friend❤️💜💚💙

  13. Mary Beth says:

    Very interesting! I had no idea that quilts were folded this way. I’m looking forward to displaying mine.

    1. I didn’t either😂 It made all the difference. You’ll love folding yours up I’m sure of it❤️💚💜