Helping to Expand Your Creative Expression
How can I keep my quilts fresh and fluffy?
By: Penny Halgren
If you need to freshen up your favorite quilt, there is a way to do that without completing an entire wash cycle. It only takes a fabric softener and a couple of unique items to fluff your quilt.
If you typically use a liquid fabric softener, use the sheet fabric softener for fluffing your quilt. Liquid fabric softener might leave a stain on your quilt that resembles a greasy spot. You won’t have to worry about that when you use a dryer sheet.
To release more of the fabric softener, slightly dampen the sheet. Remember, most of the time we use fabric softener sheets, we’re adding them to a dryer full of damp clothes. This time, the item is already completely dry. Dampening the sheet just a little will help release the fabric softening qualities better.
The unique items you will need are tennis balls. Use two clean tennis balls to help fluff your quilt. Some people simply toss the tennis balls into the dryer. Anyone concerned about tennis ball fuzz or any melting of the striping on the ball can calm their worries by simply putting each tennis ball inside a sock and tying or pinning the sock closed.
Once you have your dryer sheet and tennis balls (with or without socks), put them in your dryer with the quilt and use the air dry setting on your dryer. The bouncing of the tennis balls against your quilt will help freshen it, the same principle as beating a rug outdoors.
It loosens any surface dirt and bounces the batting back into fluffy shape. The fabric softener sheet will help control static and add your favorite fresh scent. The sheet is not necessary, but does help with static.
There are products you can buy that recreate this process. Look in the laundry section of your favorite store for fluff balls, or dryer balls. These are generally small knobby or prickly balls that you would add to your dryer instead of the tennis balls. The claim is that the balls soften fabric naturally without an additional softening agent and can be used at any heat setting.
The in-store balls used for fluffing are reasonably priced, but before you buy them to use on a special quilt, do some research of your own. Some online reviews claim that the balls are great. Others warn that the color of the balls has faded onto their clothing and into their drier walls over time. Learn as much as you can about these products before trusting them with your favorite quilt.
Remember to use the air dry setting when you start your quilt fluffing process. Heat is not necessary for restoring the fluffy and fresh, wrinkle-free look as long as you have a product bouncing against the quilt inside the dryer. Choosing a heat setting that is too hot might actually cause damage to the product instead of fluffing it.
If you are trying to fluff a vintage quilt, be sure to check first for any small holes or tears in the fabric. The bouncing fluff balls shouldn’t make the holes bigger, but might fluff the batting to the point that some could come out. Make any visible repairs first, then proceed with fluffing.
If you need to make quilt repairs, use the method best suited for your quilt. In most cases, small holes can be simply whip-stitched back together with a clear or matching thread. For larger holes, you might actually need to make a patch of similar colored or patterned fabric. Once your patches are complete, it’s okay to begin the fluffing.