Designer Ann Hermes shares her tips and tricks for piecing quilts with long-lived fabrics.
Vintage Fabric

1. Wash fabric before use; this will remove dirt and loose dyes. Many old dyes will bleed.

2. Check for stains, and work around them. It is sometimes easier to see stains from the back of the fabric.

3. Check the soundness of fabric by tugging sharply with and across the grain. Black dyes are especially susceptible to degradation. Sometimes antique fabric looks fine, but a little stress shows fabric weakness. Better to find out now rather than after the quilt is finished.

4. Use spray starch when pressing to add some stiffness to the fabric before cutting.

5. Build your stash of fabrics with yardage, scraps, and antique quilt blocks. Don't forget the neutrals!

6. Scrappy designs and smaller quilts like table toppers lend themselves well to working with small pieces of antique fabrics.