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Thread: Trying to save this quilt...but how old is it?

  1. #1
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    Trying to save this quilt...but how old is it?

    I got this quilt at a local consignment store and haggled down to 20 dollars. It has so much character. You can see the printing still from feedsacks(?) used to make it. The batting is still really thick and not at all lumpy/uneven. It has names embroidered into it. I really want to fix it up. I've only done small fixes before though...and this one needs a lot of work.

    Are there any tips/info anyone can give me about this? My plan is to unravel (cut seams) the most damaged row and use that fabric to repair the rest. My questions are: Is this a good plan? Is it even worth this effort? Do I need to use a special thread for an older quilt? Any ideas on how old this quilt is? (Pics below)
    I'm a newbie, just introduced myself in introductions. I hope I can stick around for awhile since I'm amassing a bit of a quilt "rescue" collection..



  2. #2
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    Maybe was made in the 20's or 30's.

  3. #3
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    What is it's intended purpose? Do you want it in good enough shape to use or just display? The trouble with cutting a section off is that you will have to secure the ends of the quilting threads so they don't unravel. If you do that then you could use the damaged part to repair the rest of the quilt. I would only use the extra fabric to applique over the damaged spots rather than trying to piece them in. You want to be able to save as much of the original quilting as possible.
    If it's just for display, I would gently submerge it in a bathtub with mild soap and gently manipulate it and rinse it in the tub too. I'd let the quilt drain in the tub undernight so it would not be soaking wet before you try to lift it out. See how it looks after washing and lay it out flat on a sheet to dry. It's not a really practical time of year to attempt this if you live where it is cold and it might be better to wait until spring/summer when you can lay it out outside. If it's just for display I'd fold it so the "good" part was out and not bother to repair it but do what you think is best.

  4. #4
    Super Member Vicki W's Avatar
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    Definitely feedsack for backing, very nice find. I am always so glad to see people rescue quilts. The plum seems to be in the worst shape. Are the names complete enough that you might find descendants of the makers?
    Vicki W

  5. #5
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    Are there any town or county names? Any dates?
    Here in our community (West Texas), friendship/autograph quilts seem to have been popular right around 1930.
    I would definitely recommend gently washing it, and then you will have a better idea of what you have. It is odd that there is so much wear on the quilt top, but the batting doesn't show signs of shifting. Perhaps it hasn't been laundered much over these years. It will be quite a project to repair this quilt -- good luck!
    Dayle

  6. #6
    Super Member hperttula123's Avatar
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    It looks like there is a name on it. The quilting helped alot with holding the batting together.
    enjoy your life...it's the only one you have!!!
    Heather

  7. #7
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I would probably use RetroClean on it. See http://www.retroclean.com . Not sure, but I think a more archivalist approach to preservation is to hand apply fine netting over the worn spots. That wouldn't be enough if the quilt is to be used, but is the least invasive way to preserve the quilt for the long-term.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    What is it's intended purpose? Do you want it in good enough shape to use or just display? The trouble with cutting a section off is that you will have to secure the ends of the quilting threads so they don't unravel. If you do that then you could use the damaged part to repair the rest of the quilt. ....It's not a really practical time of year to attempt this if you live where it is cold and it might be better to wait until spring/summer when you can lay it out outside.
    I would like to use it on a guest bed or the sofa. Thank you so much for the tips on how to approach repair. I was kind of scared to take part of it off, but its big enough that you would't really be able to miss that extra length. As for the washing, yes the weather here is terrible for it right now. Probably by the time I'm done fixing it and ready to wash, it will be 100 degrees again out here in Texas I anticipate starting another thread around that time on how to approach washing this massively HEAVY old quilt. I can't even imagine it waterlogged

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicki W View Post
    Definitely feedsack for backing, very nice find. I am always so glad to see people rescue quilts. The plum seems to be in the worst shape. Are the names complete enough that you might find descendants of the makers?
    The names on it are : Clara Harvill, Mrs. Louisa Ratcliff, Eva Swearingen (reminded me of the show Deadwood!), and initials EMB. I might could find descendants, but it seems like a needle in a haystack..

    Quote Originally Posted by Daylesewblessed View Post
    Are there any town or county names? Any dates?
    Here in our community (West Texas), friendship/autograph quilts seem to have been popular right around 1930.
    I would definitely recommend gently washing it, and then you will have a better idea of what you have. It is odd that there is so much wear on the quilt top, but the batting doesn't show signs of shifting. Perhaps it hasn't been laundered much over these years. It will be quite a project to repair this quilt --
    One of the feedsacks reads "Shreveport, LA". The brands are "armour's" and LION. One is actually fertilizer not feed. I would love to wash it since it looks kind of dingy. It does not smell as of yet so I am thankful for that. I wonder if the reason it has not shifted is the material of the feedsacks. Its not that kind of thin cotton like for floursacks its really thick, almost like canvas (but not quite). That thicker material makes up the entire backing, the binding, the brown stripe in the middle, and parts of the blocks. When I examine a block, the printed cotton is very thin in places, but this thicker material is not even threadbare! It shows tendency toward holes and a rip or two, but not like falling apart. It looks like it was going to be utilitarian as opposed to something "pretty".

  9. #9
    Super Member luvstoquilt's Avatar
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    What a great find. Lots of work but seems well worth it!
    "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"....E. Roosevelt

    Sharon
    Yorkville, IL

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    I would probably use RetroClean on it. See http://www.retroclean.com . Not sure, but I think a more archivalist approach to preservation is to hand apply fine netting over the worn spots. That wouldn't be enough if the quilt is to be used, but is the least invasive way to preserve the quilt for the long-term.
    Was just reading about this product..they recommend soaking the textile for up to 2 days. This seems like a really long time to leave something so old in water. would it still do anything with shorter soaking time? i've never heard of/used this product.

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