Finding the Best Homes for Mom's Treasured Quilts
Mom is downsizing. She needs to decide what to do with her handmade quilts.
Let’s face it we quilters can accumulate a lot of quilts.
And while we’re in a house or larger space working our craft, we have the room to display and store our treasures. Situations change or maybe your space is just plain full. Either way – what do you do with all your finished quilts?
My Dad and Mom lived in their 2,100 square foot house since 1979.
Yes, 43 years….that is a lot of years of accumulation to sort through, and a lot of decisions to be made about her stuff. Recently, before I flew out, I got a call from Mom. The first thing she said after I said hello was “what am I gonna do with all my quilts”?
I spent roughly a month and a half on the other side of the country (in the Pacific Northwest) with Mom the family came together to help ready her house for sale so that she could move into an independent senior apartment. During that month and half the house was emptied,
Mom moved into her apartment
and the house put on the market. That’s a lot of stress in a short amount of time, and Mom handled it like a champ.
I’m specifically talking about her quilts here,
but some of this information could apply to other items collected over time.
There are several options:
1. Gift the quilts’ back to the maker or gifter of the quilt.
2. Gift the quilts to a family member. If the person receiving the quilt or quilts is not really familiar with the quilts and their story or quilts in general inform them. Provide written documentation about that quilt and its story and, also, instructions on how to care for their newly gifted quilt(s).
3. Sell them. Ebay, Etsy, Quilting Boards, Facebook, Quilt Guilds, and word of mouth can all be resources to help sell them.
4. Donate them to a museum. There are many museums at different levels to explore as options. Local, state, regional and national ones as well. I developed a list of quilt museums and museums that might be interested in quilts. This list grew so rapidly that my husband created a database of museums. The database shows quilt museums (those dedicated to quilts) in a separate color. Some of the listings feature quilts but do not appears to accept outside quilts. I couldn't help myself, I felt like they needed to be included. For example, Kascha Quilts (https://kascha-quilts.business.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral) is a nonprofit quilt display packed with quilts made by Karen Schoepflin Hagen. This list is by no means complete but might be a good starting point. You can access this database by scrolling down to the bottom of this (my) website. You can also Google search for quilt museums, museums or even museums near me for the local ones. Some museums that are not focused on quilts parse might still be interested, especially when they were locally made.
5. Donate them to an organization to help people in need. There are so many organizations that do a lot of good work. Not all of them are large organizations that you read about all the time. There are many smaller organizations that provide a lot of help that shouldn’t be overlooked because of their size. There are many options out there.
Some things to consider:
1. Plan ahead. Planning ahead will ease some stress when the time comes to actually start the process of moving things out. If you have different items that might be historically significant on a local, state or federal level (items like quilts, photo collections etc., this list is long), start the process early. Make sure to allow time for the communication process and delivery of the items. Some of the items that I’m going to talk about next also take time if they are not already done.
2. Having quilts appraised prior to re-homing or even gifting them. This not only documents specifics about the quilt but also gives an estimated value. This information can be important to have in writing and with the quilt.
3. Label your quilts. If there are labels on them, verify they cover at minimum the who, when, and where. Include as much information as possible with the quilt. If these quilts do not have labels – label them with the information that you do know. These quilts most likely will be around long past you, and its important history.
4. Educate about the care of the quilt. If the person receiving the quilt or quilts is not really familiar with the quilt, quilts in general or even the making of a quilt inform and educate them. Like any art work, unless we’ve actually done it, we’re really not familiar with the process and what is actually involved in its making. Provide written instructions on how to care for their newly gifted quilt.
5. Word of mouth is valuable and shouldn’t be forgotten. Once you start the process (especially with guilds) and word gets around of your plan you may have a plethora of options in front of you to choose from.
6. Google search is an obvious tool but sometimes we overlook the obvious – or maybe I overlook the obvious.
7. The time is now, the time is now to finish your UFO’s and WIP. Getting and staying caught up will lighten the stress load when it is time to downsize. Let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger. Plus, it is so rewarding to Watch Your Quilts Come Alive!
The process of downsizing will affect people in different ways. There are so many aspects that go into the making of a quilt or any piece of art. It’s not just the time and money – these pieces are being constructed while our life is happening so memories become attached not to mention the various reasons, we began a quilt in the first place. I guess what I’m trying to say is that these quilts become part of us, part of our history and the history of where we live and create….so ‘throwing them away’, if you will, to some may feel like throwing away part of us, our memories or someone we love.
I want to challenge this notion. There are so many people out there that will treasure our treasures and/or actually need them. To share these beautiful quilts may in fact change your life and theirs and appreciation for quilting and people. You never know, your treasured quilt just might inspire someone along the way to give quilting a go. And so, quilting and its legacy and yours will continue…..
I hope this information proves useful in helping to rehome your quilts. And, also, provide some peace-of-mind knowing that your quilts can be treasured for generations.
The YouTube video talking through this downsizing process can be watched here: