The fun of collecting vintage is a big thing that feeds my soul. I have many collections of useful vintage items, but my most favorite are the antique quilts. Adding quilts to your decor brings a certain bit of vintage charm. Let’s chat today about ideas for displaying quilts.
Just a Few Quilts
I have been collecting quilts for over 40 years, stretching all the way back to when I was a teenager. Man, was I hooked! Collecting quilts is like eating potato chips, as once you have one, you then need a whole lot more.
Not only do I love the patterns, but the colors and fabric of an antique quilt really catches my eye. When I buy one, I can just picture whoever stitched it. Probably sitting in a group, quilt raised on quilt racks, stretched out as everyone sits happily hand stitching and chatting. It is such an idyllic scene that it makes me love and appreciate the handiwork even more.
Once you begin buying, you won’t ever want to stop. You will definitely need to figure out where to display quilts. It’s just too sad to think of them hiding in a closet, as they must be seen!
Great Ways to Display Quilts
Let me start off by saying that I am not a quilt purist. I know there are certain ways to handle heirloom quilts that are quality that do not include flinging them around your house. But what I believe most of us collect are not museum quality and therefore, the rules are more loosey goosey. Basically, I like to subscribe to the thought that if I purchased them, they are mine. Therefore, I can use them how I wish.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to display quilts today:
Over a Stairway Railing
This display option is so easy and all it takes is some careful folding for multiple quilts displayed. I tend to choose a few that are similar sizes so they hang somewhat even. I like the mix of different styles hanging together. As with anything colorful and vintage, keep quilts away from direct sunlight.
On the Back of a Sofa
I love adding to the pattern of a room by displaying a quilt on the back of a sofa. This works out best if the furniture is floating in the room, so the quilt can actually be seen. This can visually bring warmth to a room, and cozy up your home decor.
Stacked in a Collection
Whether inside a piece of furniture, displayed on built-in shelves, or stacked on a bench, folded quilts can add character and charm to a space. A high closet shelf can even be used to display and keep quilts, as a fun little surprise when opening the closet. That area tends to be dead space and would look so cute with multiple quilts stacked up!
An old china cabinet can be turned quilt cabinet as the glass will allow seeing the display. This option would work great for family quilts or favorite quilts that may have high sentimental value and are best not receiving everyday use.
At the Foot of a Bed
Another favorite way to display a folded quilt is at the foot of a bed. I love how easy it is to switch it out at different times of the year. This gives the room a whole new look and a focal point color scheme to work from. Simply fold it the longest width of the quilt so it has room to drape to end on the mattress.
As a Furniture Cover
This option is great if you have a piece of furniture that has seen better days and you want to add a little charm and color to neutral furnishings, while covering up wear. For high traffic furniture, use a quilt that can take the abuse, such as a machine stitched newer quilt that can easily be washed.
Rolled into a Basket or Display Bin
This option is great if you have a quilt that has great color, but may be stained in an area so it can’t be laid out for full display. Old lumpier quilts are best rolled up into a basket as well, since they tend not to lay very flat and may not be uniform for folding and stacking.
As a Wall Hanging
Hanging quilts in a variety of ways can add a lot to your home decor and can even save on floor space. Quilts can be hung on a towel bar on an unused door, or simply draped over old curtain rods. Think of it as an art form and think outside the box for the next great idea! Large quilts can fill up blank wall space quite nicely.
In the first house we ever owned (40 years ago) we had a cute little cottage type house in a quaint small town. It was all very Norman Rockwellian. One of the first quilts I ever got was a blue, white, and yellow quilt in the Flower Garden pattern. I hung the quilt in our foyer on a big wall as a wall hanging and it was the focal point of the colors found in the main living areas. I loved that quilt so much! My daughter now has it and I see it often when I visit her. I love that it is used and loved quite a bit, as the girlies spread it out and have picnics on it quite often.
How to Hang Quilts on the Wall
To hang on the wall, I hand stitched a muslin hanging sleeve at the top of the quilt and inserted a 1 x 2″ wood board cut to the width of the quilt. This allowed the quilt to hang straight without any sag. Curtain rods can also be used, along with rings and clips. Hanging a variety of mini quilts along a curtain rod would showcase them as small wall hangings and be soooo cute!
Wall quilt racks are also easy to find at many craft shows around the country. Vintage wooden hangers can also display a small quilt easily that can be switched out frequently. As always, keep hanging quilts out of direct sunlight.
On a Quilt Stand or Ladder Rung
A more modern way to hang several quilts for a beautiful display is on the rungs of a ladder. I like how this looks a bit more cool than an old quilt stand. However, quilt stands are great as these quilt hangers can be made to fit a specific width to best display a pattern, and keep it accessible to use. Group vintage quilts together for display by color or similar pattern.
Heirloom Quilts vs. New Quilts
The most important difference you will find between heirloom quality quilts and new quilts is the ease and ability of machine washing to clean them. Old quilts definitely need more care, as most are hand stitched, along with being, well, old. Isn’t that the point? Do not hang quilts that are expensive heirloom quality as it could cause the fabric to become misshapen over time.
Today, there are so many good companies making quilts that look vintage but can be machine washed, therefore used daily. This company has a great variety of patchwork block quilt choices that look old.
To Use or Not To Use
I always prefer to have vintage collections of items that I can actually utilize. That’s better than stuff just sitting around collecting dust. Quilts are great for that and are always on the move around here. Here are a few different ways to use quilts, other than for display.
This option is great for smaller quilts, such as a baby quilt. Smaller quilts can also be layered over other tablecloths for a charming look in the dining room.
Using a quilt as a tablecloth on a dining room table is great because so much of the pattern is visible. However, I never would use it around food as it can easily be stained. Larger quilts can turn a boring folding table into charming decorative pieces for a party. Use as a gift table at a bridal or baby shower. Layer with a writing surface like a breadboard, to sign-in or leave a note for the guest of honor.
It’s all about the size quilt you have. Lap quilts are smaller quilts that are meant to just be large enough to keep you warm when sitting and watching tv or reading. Obviously this would NOT be the best choice for a larger quilt if you didn’t want to be stepping on it.
At my house, the dog would take it as an invitation to lay on it, so not the best option for a family heirloom! But smaller quilts make great options to snuggle up with anywhere that you might need an extra blanket, simply drape it on the arm of the sofa that gets the most use.
Stains, Cutters and More Quilts
I never pass up a great designed quilt, if the price is right and it has great colors, just because it is stained. This is what is referred to as a ‘cutter quilt’. These can be made into quilted pillows, or other crafts. I keep a small stash in my sewing room to make Christmas stockings or other small handmade items at the holidays. If you don’t have a mantle, stockings can be hung on vintage wooden hangers anywhere you need a bit of whimsy.
Pretty quilt patterns can be cut and displayed in a variety of quilting hoops for an interesting accent wall display full of charm. Pinterest is full of great ideas of how to use these pieces. It’s a great way to get more life from a favorite quilt that has seen better days, that you don’t want to part with.
A favorite quilt that has been torn or stained can be cut into a smaller wall hangings quite easily with new seam binding. That would be a great way to share an old family quilt with several members.
At the holidays I love to refine my collections and display them in a variety of ways. Check out my favorite collections to use at the holidays.
I have a few red and white quilts that I choose to only bring out around Christmas, as red really isn’t a color I tend to decorate with throughout the year, but looks so pretty with other winter and holiday decor. Around the holidays, this company sells great quilts for bedding that look vintage and add holiday cheer to everyone’s bedroom.
Favorite Places to Find Quilts
I have purchased quilts from many places over the years. From yard sales and garage sales, to antique stores and thrift stores, I have collected many. But my favorite place to find them is an estate sale. Estate sales are great because you can see what type of environment the quilts have been living in over the years. I’m super picky about purchasing old upholstery or fabric items, especially if they can’t be washed!
Ways to Display Quilts and Other Great Ideas
I hope you have enjoyed chatting about ways to display quilts all over your home, whether year round or just seasonally. The best part about quilt collections is switching them out for seasonal colors, moving them from room to room, and coming up with new ways to display quilts. Drop me a comment below and tell me your favorite ways to display quilts, if you’re a quilt lover like me.