Blankets and Quilts Blankets and Quilts

For much of the world, it's the dawn of winter and time to unwrap the scarves, zip up the coats, and happily unfold those warm and cozy blankets. If your blankets have been tucked away in closets and boxes during the hot and stuffy summer, they need not hide any longer. This month's Little Things is reintroducing the fine art of displaying them.

In the past, you may have enjoyed your blankets for their functional purpose - to cover and warm chilly bodies. Consequently, it has been easy for you to pay little attention to how a fine piece of "fiber art" can add to a room. But now it's time to stand back and see blankets, and similar coverings, in their entirety. Rethink their interior design possibilities!

At the same time, envision the design potential for your clients' homes. When the family room, recreation space, or reading alcove needs something extra to complete the mood and create continuity, a beautiful antique or modern blanket can do the trick. It sounds simple enough. Also, for the client who has already reached the limit on her credit card, simply transferring the blanket from the closet or couch to the wall is a wonderfully inexpensive way to complete a room. Even if they need to be purchased, beautiful blankets can be found at relatively inexpensive prices, beginning as low as $50.

Antique blankets, such as those made by the Native Americans, and quilts are highly valued collector's items for people all over the world. For many, making quilts is a passion that transfers into a wealth of unique, stylish and timeless pieces for consumers. Quilts can be purchased in specialty shops, in large chain stores, craft fairs, and even online. They can play up a theme in a room, such as giraffes or butterflies in a child's room, or they can incorporate the color of the couch, pillows, walls, and floor to create cohesion in a space. The options are limitless, and all the possibilities should be explored and thought through at length before deciding on one piece. It's important that your client choose the perfect quilt, because a fine quilt is like a piece of furniture that will stay in the household for many years, even generations, to come.

Once you have guided your client to the perfect quilt, the one that enhances the interior design of the setting, it's time to hang it. In order to prevent the beautiful piece from prematurely aging, it's important to take precautions. First, loose stitch a long piece of fabric to the back of it, leaving the ends open so that a rod will fit through. Suspend the fabric from wall brackets, but make sure that the weight is distributed evenly. Remember to keep quilts away from direct sunlight. The harsh rays of the sun can fade the brilliant colors and weaken the fabric.

It is a good idea to not have the quilt hanging from the wall 100% of the time. Ideally, your client will have more than one, making it possible to alternate the pieces. The care of a quilt is very important when it is in storage also. Fold it as few times as possible. This will help decrease the strain on the fabric and stitching. Using acid-free tissue paper, muslin, or polyester batting will help protect the material from straining. Also, refolding it on a regular basis will lessen the dirt lines and permanent creases.

If quilts are not your client's style, then antique blankets may be a better choice. These too come in a variety of designs, though they are often more expensive because they are usually many years old. For instance, Native American trading blankets are beautiful pieces from the past and can be hundreds of years old. These items can cost thousands of dollars. They are investments and so must be treated with great care. While many are found in museums, setting aside a special place in one's own home can heighten the aesthetics of almost any room.

Whether the blanket or quilt on display is a hundred-year-old heirloom or a functional blanket purchased at the mall, it's important to make it last. Then it can be enjoyed for many years to come. Also, write down for safe keeping where the beautiful piece came from or who made it and when. This will ensure that the value of the piece is remembered.

Now that you know how to turn a practical item into an artistic one, turn up the heat, and get out from under the blankets. Delight in the design all around you, because it's the little things that make a difference!

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design


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