Sunday, September 16, 2007

Heirloom Quilt

I spent most of this weekend gathering stuff for our
Fall Rummage at church. And boy howdy, am I glad
to be done with that! As I was struggling to get out of
the closet, I found some blankets that for lack of a
better place to keep them, were thrown on the floor.
As I was going through them I found Geary's Grandma's
quilt (shame on us) in the pile too. Grandma Adams was
never able to finish it, so Geary's sister put a backing on
it and tied it with pieces of yarn. I know this has to be
at least 55 years old and could be even older. It has the
most beautiful fabrics and it is hand sewn.
I'm going to gather as much of the history of the
quilt as I can. So I can date it. My intentions
are to have it quilted the right way if possible, but
I think it needs to be cleaned. There are some
stains and small openings where the threads
have come undone. I took the yarn ties out, but it
left gaping holes where the yarn spread the threads.
My question to any of the quilters out there is this...
Should I just leave it as it is and not remove the back?
Is it hard to find a professional to consult with...there's
a quilting show in Kalamazoo next weekend.
How should I store it? Can anyone help me? It's so
beautiful and I could kick myself for not taking better
care of it sooner. But what do I know about quilting,
I'm a beader!!!


  1. I quilt a little, but don't know enough to even make suggestions. However, you're right, it's a beauty... lovely fabrics and design. I do know some folks who are experienced in quilt restoration... I'll encourage them to visit your blog.

  2. I suspect you are going to be able to garner all the information you need at that quilting show. Be sure to ask everyone and anyone who is a quilter all your questions.

    We had a similar quilt that my husband's grandmother had completed back in the '30s and our kids wore it to death as it was their favorite to snuggle under.

    Good luck!

    Kathy V in NM

  3. Roseanne, I love this quilt! This pattern is called "Grandmother's Flower Garden". Hand piecing was the traditional method for this pattern, and it was particularly popular in the 1920's and 30's. I know that my grandmother continued making this pattern well into the 60's. As far as cleaning, yes, it should be cleaned and repaired before it is quilted. It could be carefully hand washed and laid out on the lawn on a sheet to dry. It will need to be carefully handled. When I hand wash a quilt like this one, I wash it in the bathtub, being careful not to lift the wet weight against the stitches. I usually soak it in mild soap and continually rinse until the water is clear. Lift it out of the tub in a "hammock" of a sheet or lightweight towel. Lay it out onto a clean dry sheet on the lawn.... upside down so the sun won't fade the fabric. Leave it to dry. Then press it so it's smooth and repair any of the split stitches. If you can find a local group or person that does hand quilting, that's great, but if not, contact me and I will get the name of a woman in Ohio (?) from my friend who does hand quilting for hire. When the quilt is returned, I suggest that you put a dedication/information block onto the back with all the history you can find. I have successfully used the Jacquard brand fabric to print the story right out of your computer ..... I can sell you one and mail it to you if you like..... I have even included a photo on the dedication would be great to have a photo of Grandma..... Ask if you want help with that, too.
    As you can tell, CAREFUL is the watch word for handling this kind of treasure! LOL! Ask any other questions that occur to you..... this is one of my favorite topics!

  4. I agree with all of the previous comments. One thing that has not been mentioned yet - are you restoring the quilt to use it, preserve it or for the $$ value. What you do with it now will depend on that answer. If it's for the $$ value of the quilt as an older quilt - stop right there. As soon as you 'change, fix or do anything' to the quilt it loses it's antique status and becomes a nice family piece. The best analogy is having a old piece of furniture that is a bit worn, so you get it refinished but in doing so the 'updating' now makes it 'not' an antique.
    If you want to enjoy the quilt and use it, definitely clean it gently, as Krispis described and have it hand quilted.Same if you just want to hang on to it for future generations.
    Do the documentation that Krispis suggested - you and future generations will be thrilled that you did.
    Ask at the up coming quilt show about quilt restorers. It's pricey but it depends on your final goal for the quilt. They may also be able to steer you towards a good hand quilter near you.
    You also don't mention why - or maybe I missed it - you want to get rid of or replace the backing. It's best to leave it as original as possible. If the back is hopelessly torn, rotted or stained, then replace it. Otherwise, leave it be.
    A good quilt restorer can also 'date' the quilt for you. The rule of thumb is that the quilt can't be any older than the 'newest' piece of fabric in it....
    Quilts I know a lot better than beads....
    Enjoy the quilt, it is a delightful piece - full of life and pizzazz.
    Karen aka kwltnmoma

  5. Thanks to all for the input on my quilt. Its been very helpful.
    Krispis...I will very carefully wash and dry it. I am very interested in the block to put on the back. Geary says its his Great Grandmother and he has a photo of her ( or his mother would have one). He remembers spending the night at her house as a child and sleeping in her quilting room. He said the bed was piled high with quilts and the room had material piled everywhere.
    Karen...the backing that I'm removing is just a sheet that Tonya sewed to the back...the quilt was just a top that Grandma never finished. I don't care about the value of the me its priceless just as a peice of family history. My intentions are to have it completed, documented and probably just put away. The colors are still very vibrant. Any suggestions on how to store it or show it with out damaging it? Again I say thanks to all for your input. I'll let you know what happens ;^)

  6. If you insist on storing it, It should be wrapped in acid free tissue, then kept in a cloth bag so that it can breathe. It should not be in contact with any wood as the resins in wood tend to discolor fabric. If you are keeping this for your own enjoyment, why not keep it where you can see it? Is there someone in your family (daughter, granddaughter) who is going to value it MORE than you do? Realize that even though YOU love it, your progeny may not value it as much, and it may end up in the thrift shop anyway. My advice is to use it gently, and enjoy it! That includes keeping it out in a place you see often (on a bed or a quilt rack at the end of a bed) out of direct sunlight, which will fade the colors. You (and your husband) should not sit on it since that will pop the quilting stitches. (That may be a training curve you are not willing to go through! LOL!)

  7. Krispis,
    You are right about how people value things...what was I thinking?
    I remember talking to a woman in the UPS Store who was mailing a crazy quilt she made for her Granddaughter. She made one for all her grandbabies, but she was sad about this one, and she told me that the last one she made for a granddaughter was being used by the family dog on a couch! OUCH!!
    So I am going to get a quilt stand and keep it out of the sunlight, but show it off to everyone. It would make me sad to see it go to a thrift shop...:0(

  8. No clue, no advice, no comments.

    But hello from Detroit!!

  9. I don't have advice for you, just a comment. My grandmothers tied their quilts when they were too busy to quilt but wanted to use what they had made. Busyness is not really new to people, it's just different things that occupy our time! My dad remembers his mother as being the first one up in the morning and the last to go to bed - day after day after day. Tying off a quilt would seem like such a blessed shortcut.