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Thread: What about washing an old quilt top?

  1. #1
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    Is there any safe way to wash a quilt top that was given me that was pieced probably in the 1950's? It is discolored & I don't want to go to the trouble & expense of backing, batting & quilting it if it won't be in good shape. Anyone had any experience with this? It was machine pieced & appears to be 100% cotton.
    Thanks for any input.
    MLOQuilts in Oklahoma

  2. #2
    Power Poster erstan947's Avatar
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    I have done 4 like this. I hand quilted them then washed them on gentle. They all did really well.

  3. #3
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    I have washed old tops knowing it was my only option because they were so filthy. I folded the top and put it in my kitchen sink with tepid water, dawn dish soap and baking soda. I let it soak for an hour then gently pushed my hands down numerous times on the still folded top. I drained the water and ran cold rinse water two times, gently pushung down on the top. Leaving the top folded I blotted the excess water. Then unfolded and hung it over the shower bar in my bathroom, gently arranging it to hang flat. This worked for me. Some fo the grime didn't come out but it was clean enough to quilt. After quilting and binding it I washed it in the washing machine on gentle and it came out good and clean. Good luck, it's always chancy when you wash a top that someone else made years ago.

  4. #4
    Junior Member trish b's Avatar
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    I listened to an experienced teacher talk about this last night at our guild meeting. She says any regular detergent will do with a couple color catchers, gentle agitation. The trick is to stand by your washer and not let it spin too much at one time. She said, count to 2 and lift the lid and again and again and again, until it stops spinning. The spinning will tear out the stitches, hand or machine. Then put in a pillow case and dry on gentle. Good wishes.

  5. #5
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trish b
    I listened to an experienced teacher talk about this last night at our guild meeting. She says any regular detergent will do with a couple color catchers, gentle agitation. The trick is to stand by your washer and not let it spin too much at one time. She said, count to 2 and lift the lid and again and again and again, until it stops spinning. The spinning will tear out the stitches, hand or machine. Then put in a pillow case and dry on gentle. Good wishes.
    Thank you - great info

  6. #6
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    I use the gentle soaps (baby soap...Dreft...or something like that).

  7. #7
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trish b
    I listened to an experienced teacher talk about this last night at our guild meeting. She says any regular detergent will do with a couple color catchers, gentle agitation. The trick is to stand by your washer and not let it spin too much at one time. She said, count to 2 and lift the lid and again and again and again, until it stops spinning. The spinning will tear out the stitches, hand or machine. Then put in a pillow case and dry on gentle. Good wishes.
    Isn't this for a finished quilt? I would be afraid that this would cause more raveling than washing by hand.... :D:D:D

  8. #8
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    Thank you so much! I have been afraid to try anything, but your suggestion sounds promising. The quilt top was made by an old family friend who passed away years ago, so does have sentimental value to me. If I can salvage it, I will be so pleased.
    Thanks again.

  9. #9
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    It's much better not to wash quilt tops until they are finished and quilted. Saves lots of fraying seams.

  10. #10
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amma
    Quote Originally Posted by trish b
    I listened to an experienced teacher talk about this last night at our guild meeting. She says any regular detergent will do with a couple color catchers, gentle agitation. The trick is to stand by your washer and not let it spin too much at one time. She said, count to 2 and lift the lid and again and again and again, until it stops spinning. The spinning will tear out the stitches, hand or machine. Then put in a pillow case and dry on gentle. Good wishes.
    Isn't this for a finished quilt? I would be afraid that this would cause more raveling than washing by hand.... :D:D:D
    I agree. This method would be likely to ruin an unquilted top. The hand method described, with the folding, is the first method of washing a quilt top that I would try without first hand-basting the top to a foundation.

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