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Advice / Help need to repair 80 year old quilt

Advice / Help need to repair 80 year old quilt

Old 03-05-2018, 02:04 PM
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Default Advice / Help need to repair 80 year old quilt

My aunt just gave me this quilt that my grandmother made - 80 years ago!

The embroidery is done just on the top. It is hand sewn together (obviously LOL) but there is no batting. Just the top, and then patterned fabric in the back. The back is falling apart. And the embroidery is missing pieces.

I would like to fix it, and will work on it slowly.

My first step is going to be to simply cut the border off as it is fraying too much (it's only 1/2 inch wide).

Second step it to take out all the hand stitching so that I can take the backing off.

Third step would be to see if I can find the pattern so I can fill it in. This is where all of you come in! Here's a pic of the quilt ...

I'm hoping someone recognizes the pattern and I can buy it and fill it in.



Thanks so much for looking!

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Old 03-05-2018, 05:07 PM
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So it's the complete embroidery pattern you are looking for? I Googled vintage quilt embroidery patterns with a basket and came up with these images:

You may need to improvise the missing sections.

Last edited by Prism99; 03-05-2018 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:52 PM
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It's likely this was meant to be a "summer quilt" with no batting on purpose. If you seriously want to restore/save/finish this lovely quilt, I might suggest doing what I did on a ca. 1780 family quilt which is now at the textile museum in Williamsburg VA.

Using their perfect lighting, large tables workroom for a couple of days, I fully laid out the whole quilt and covered it with one large piece of thin, clear vinyl like you would use as a table cover. This allowed me to lean on the quilt without getting the oils of my hands on it as I closely studied the piecing and quilting designs. In my case, the vinyl allowed me to use a magic marker to copy the designs without damaging the quilt. Perhaps this would help you to figure out what the embroidery patterns are on your quilt.

What a lovely project you have ahead of you!

Jan in VA
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:33 AM
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I would identify what end result I want for the textile - to stabilize for conservation, to restore to use or a combo of conservation and restoration - meaning you don't intend to use the item but want it looking as near to the original as possible. That will determine what to do.

On any restoration job there is The Ship of Theseus paradox or known here in the UK as "Trigger's Broom"

If you want the combo and accepting that this would not be considered an important historic textile....
Decided on your pattern first. Leave the textile in one piece as long as possible (for all three scenarios)
As you stated the back is too far gone, I would embroider through the old backing. The old backing is providing support for the existing embroidery.
Then I would layer the whole quilt onto a new backing with the old one still in place. Keeping as much of the original textile as possible. That old backing is still part of the textile's history.
As for quilting, you could either re-quilt along the same lines, removing the old stitches as you go or perhaps quilting a minimal but complimentary pattern whilst keeping the original stitching in place. Does it matter that the front and back quilting isn't the same?

If you could do it on a slate frame all the better, but they do take up room. If you want to go that route, anybody that is handy in the woodworking dept can make you one with some long bits of wood and some upholstery webbing stapled onto it. You support the frame on some cheap trestles from IKEA. A square hand quilt frame is nearly the same thing but costs a whole lot more

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Old 03-06-2018, 04:20 AM
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Thank you so much for the ideas and suggestions. I will definitely be doing a ton of research before I tackle this project.

I don't believe it will be used, as it is quite fragile, but would certainly look nice as a show piece
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:09 PM
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Do let us know what you decide t do and be sure to share pics of the finished product.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:40 PM
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If it were me (and I'm a novice at this, but I do tend to think differently from others) I wouldn't disassemble it. I would repair the embroidery through both layers and either add a new backing over the original and use the tie method to attach it, so it looks neat without destroying the original quilting; or I'd simply get it into the best shape I could and use it as a wall hanging. I probably would replace the binding, as you said it is falling apart. But, and you are welcome to disagree, the hand-quilting is what makes it extra special. Often, the embroidery is from a pattern you might see elsewhere, but the hand quilting is the true beauty and uniqueness.
I suppose it depends on what your goal for the quilt is Hope you share the end result with us.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:23 AM
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I have sometimes used wedding tulle placed over the top to stabilize it. It doesn't show unless you practically put your nose down on it, and it keeps everything together. I have done several tops for friends like this.
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Old 03-11-2018, 02:40 PM
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So after more research and reading, I will not be taking it apart! First off, more work than I need. The handquilting is fine, it's the embroidery. I just bought a bunch of embroidery floss to match the quilt. That part is done!

My first step is going to begin tonight - I'm going to take out some of the embroidery of the bottom of the basket (it's all bunched up there).

Next step will be to hoop it, and mark it with pencil so I can follow the pattern, and do the hand embroidery piece by piece.

Once all of the embroidery is done, I will cut off the pieces of the backing and put a piece of fusible interface between the two (just a narrow strip) to hold them together.

Next step will be to add a backing, and then hand sew every 6-8 inches following the cross hatch hand stitching that my grandmother did ... and final step will be the border ...

I see lots of long summer evenings in the gazebo working on this!

Thanks for all the tips!
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