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Thread: 100 Year Old Redwork

  1. #26
    Senior Member Sparky's Avatar
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    I have heard many discussions on pros and cons of washing vintage quilts. Here is a link that gives you some good advise I hope.
    http://www.quilthistory.com/cleaning.htm
    Would you ever consider separating the blocks and working them individually into a new block such as a snowball with a red and white print? That would result in stabilizing a fragile fabric and providing square corners. Also new machine piecing would be stronger. Then you could test color fastness of each block. It is entirely possible that some of the redwork is colorfast and other pieces are not. You could then use also use a very fine fusable to attach the red work to a preshrunk muslin or use a very lightweight fusable interfacing before re-piecing.

  2. #27
    Super Member Joan's Avatar
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    I can't remember whether it was in the column about redwork or not but somewhere I read it is important to soak piece in water with some white vinegar. The white vinegar sets the dye.

    Even so, when washing I would still use a color catcher.

    I am in love with redwork and am so happy this wonderful piece found a home where it will be preserved, loved and appreciated. It is just gorgeous!

  3. #28
    deedles215's Avatar
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    Wow! What a treasure!
    I think I would agree with others- consult an expert on how to preserve this. The last thing you'd want to happen is something to bleed, or weaken (from chemicals not used in 1910), or....? Who knows. Good luck!

  4. #29
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    I also veto the idea of using spray baste on the squares. As delicate as the fabric is, looks like batiste, the spray may damage and stain the blocks.

    I agree, I'm not so sure I would quilt it either, BUT, if you must, please use muslin as this would fit the time period of the fabric and redwork. Back in those days, the popular quilting pattern would be cross hatch. Also, I would only use 100% cotton thread with it. YLI puts out a nice cotton thread for quilting.

  5. #30
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    I'd ask a professional. You'd hate to ruin it with chemical(s) & the glue would prob be a bad idea. Older fabrics were meant to breathe...they didn't have air conditioning back in the day. I'd love to see it donated to a State Museum, along with the history of your Mother & her friend, plus I'd get your Mom on tape (if she will agree to tape the story) to go with the quilt. Whatever you do, you have a valuable treasure, esp with the date.

  6. #31
    Senior Member Loretta's Avatar
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    That is beautiful. I would never use glue on something this delicate. I would get professional advice on how to wash it.

  7. #32
    kd124's Avatar
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    I with those who say to get professional help. The link Sparky gave you has some great advice. Perhaps the following will give you some additional help. Before doing anything, please be sure to read the articles about cleaning. The second link is for a museum site and information about asking a question. I'm not sure if they can help but I think it is worth a shot. It is a beautiful quilt. Good luck.

    http://antiques.about.com/library/weekly/aa101199.htm

    http://nequiltmuseum.org/museum/library_questions.html

  8. #33
    skpkatydid's Avatar
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    I absolutely adore Redwork. That is definitely a good find. It richly deserves to be preserved for posterity. I can't wait to see it when you get it finished.

  9. #34
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    What a treasure!! Boy, did you luck out! I don't know if I would even attempt to wash the quilt. Sometimes the material will just discolor with age. How bad is it? Could spot washing do the trick? If necessary, I probably would make sure that I used a color fastener in the water. Still very risky.

    Personally, I would batt and bind and call it good and show if off proudly.

  10. #35
    Super Member quiltingfan's Avatar
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    I would think about hand quilting instead of machine quilting, just a thought. What a beautiful quilt. It looks to be in great shape also.

  11. #36

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    What a prize. I wouldn't use "spray glue" only because of the age of the quilt.I'd be afraid to ruin something. I think a cold water wash won't hurt anything because It's be laundered before I'm certain.Good luck let us see to finished work.

  12. #37
    Senior Member Chrys's Avatar
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    what a beautiful treasure!

  13. #38
    NCMtnHigh's Avatar
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    THANKS everyone for your advice. I've decided to cross hatch by machine. I have 2 trigger fingers on right hand, 1 on left ... so I just can't handle much hand quilting.

    If I cross hatch in the corners, and then connect with a straight line between them (top to bottom and side to side), then it will give the impression of a soft picture frame around each one. I'll use tread that will blend in with background so it won't detract from the embroidery.
    Also, my machine has a "quilting" stitch, and by increasing the length, it will give a softer appearance.

    Will hold off laundering until after completed. And no, it's not that bad. Probably some dead bug residue (brown spots). Will post pictures in a few days. Recovering from surgery so have to go at a slower pace now.

    Thanks again.... and stay tuned .....

  14. #39
    Super Member Olivia's Grammy's Avatar
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    Can't wait to see it. Now that you have a plan things will go faster. Hope your hands recover quickly.

  15. #40
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    Can't wait to see it. I have to add my 2 cents worth...no glue! Also, washing kind of rejuvenates older, stale fabrics. It gets years of dust, debris, etc. out of the fibers, and brightens them back up. Just gentle hand agitating in your washing machine's tub will do it, then you can spin the water out on gentle. All the advice about dye catchers is good. Yes, I would advise quilting this with batting and backing, because as fabric ages, the threads can become weak and start to pull apart. this piece needs to be fully supported by quilting. It is indeed beautiful, and should be displayed to be enjoyed.

  16. #41
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    So lovely! If you have time, I would take a close-up of each block. The wonderful ladies (and maybe gents?) too time to hand embroider blocks for the quilt. I wonder if they were for a swap or special purpose? Seeing the individual blocks would be so neat. What a treasure.

  17. #42
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    A woman wanted me to finish and quilt her Great Great Grandmothers quilt top for her , at first I said I would but, after lots of thought I decided it would not be a good idea, I would feel terrible if I ruined it, so I backed out. I figure the fabric would be too old and delicate to with stand all that handling. Be very careful and if you wash it be careful how you handle it while wet and please don't hang it on a clothesline, it will pull the seams too much. Laying it out to dry is the safest way. A museum may be able to tell you what to do.

  18. #43
    Senior Member Bluphrog's Avatar
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    In case anyone hasn't suggested it, there are several quilt museums in the US that could probably give you direction. There is one in Paducah, KY, which would probably be closest to you.

  19. #44
    Senior Member mrsmail's Avatar
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    What a treasure and what a lucky lady you are.

  20. #45
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    I had a conservative class through EGA sometime ago and they say never put textiles behind glass, it speeds deteriation. Also, I would not recommend quilting it at all. Do not use spray glue. You could gently wash it and get acid free board and batting and stretch it in frame. Definitely use color catcher if you wash and use a gentle quilt wash instead of detergent. Older fabrics will suffer if you use modern thread and machine sew on them. The lady that taught the class came from England and keeps things for museums and the Queen.

  21. #46
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i agree with the others about avoiding spray glue. no one knows about long term damage and some don't wash out and some do. the red may bleed, but the embroidery may also (probably) shrink, causing all kinds of puckers. looking at the picture, the embroidery is laying nice and flat, with little room for shrinkage.
    i think ninnie is right about the handquilting, too. machine quilting would look wrong, imo, on a quilt obviously this old. i think backing with muslin is a good idea for added strength, and a rather flat batting with a muslin back would be in keeping. i
    n your bathtub, run cold water. i would use retayne instead of a simple color catcher. but a color catcher is better than nothing. add the gentlest soap made for quilts. i like orvis. when the water and the products are thoroughly mixed, lower the quilt, finished, and gently swish it around. gently, gently. the quilt should be folded only enough times to fit in the tub, accordian stye. let it soak for , oh, an hour. swish, swish. let the water out. when the water is gone, gently step on the quilt to squeeze out as much water as you can. do it again. repeat until the water runs clear, or almost clear. years of dirt are in there. when you're done (this is the hard part) roll the quilt to one side of the tub and start moving a sheet into the tub from the other side edge. when you get the sheet edge into the center, roll the quilt into the sheet and move the sheet over until the quilt is centered, like the way a nurse makes a bed around a patient. when the quilt is in the center of the sheet, wrap the sheet so it covers the top. step on it one more time. plenty more water will come out. holding on the sheet ends (you've used a larger sheet than the quilt) lift the quilt out of the tub and onto the flat surface you prepared to dry it.
    dry it on the floor with a shower curtain under it, or any other waterproofing if it's inside. in that case, lay a bunch of towels over the plastic, to keep the quilt off as much plastic as possible. if you have a carpeted room and you don't mind it getting very wet, that'll do it, over a clean sheet. not ideal for you, but inside is inside. use a fan inside. if you're lucky and can do this outdoors, lay it on a large sheet on the grass and cover with another sheet. we like birds and all, but ..... . leave there as long as possible. inside or outside, turn every day. be patient. this will take some days. keep it out of the sun. it puckers appear, gently pat them out the best you can. don't tug. that's the best you can do for old fabric whose strength is uncertain. i sounds worse than it is, but it is some work. good luck with it. do you get to keep it?

    edited: do not hang it in any way over racks or lines or anything. the weight will kill it. dry it flat. if the weather looks bad and you can't dry it indoors, then wait.

  22. #47
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    How timely for NCMtnHigh's redwork quilt to be shown and how lucky she was to receive something like this. I have a redwork quilt which my mother received on the day of her birth - 2/14/1909. It was embroidered and quilted by her grandmother. It is composed of smallish muslin blocks which were called 'penny' blocks as they were purchased from a newspaper/magazine source for one cent per block. The designs in my mother's quilt are all children related and not as elaborately embroidered as NCHighMtn's quilt. I'm relocating and moving into a house with a sewing room wall on which to display this cherished piece. I've been wondering how I was going to prepare/display it as it's very yellowed with age and I'm sure very fragile. Thanks to all for the great suggestions. You're all a neat bunch of gals/guys. Love seeing the latest lap dog and his daddy!!! DottienTX

  23. #48
    Member elbeau's Avatar
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    I would go to the website for the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska - http://www.quiltstudy.org. They have a lot of great information and you could maybe even contact them for advice!

    That is definitely too precious a piece to take any chances with!

  24. #49
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    I wish you could have it hand-quilted. maybe evn big-stitch with your hands. Laypieces of tulle or netting over quilt, then vacum to get the dust out. this may save you having to wash it. What a treasure !

  25. #50
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i know you love it, but who owns it? is it yours or hers? what does she want you to do for her?

    i ask because i inherited a beautiful crocheted bedspread that was a perfect example of work at the turn of the century. i was afraid to use it and afraid it would shred. i ended up donating it to a museum with a good textile collection, where it will be properly preserved and displayed from time to time. in my house it would stay hidden in a drawer away from light out of fear of damage. now it can be enjoyed and studied. imo, much better.

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