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Thread: Buying old/antique quilts

  1. #1
    Senior Member liont's Avatar
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    Buying old/antique quilts

    I was looking through craigslist and chanced upon old/antique quilts for sale.
    Anyone has experience in collecting older quilts in fairs/flea markets/craigslist?

  2. #2
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    I've gotten older quilts at auctions and a couple from family members. What is it that you want to know?

  3. #3
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    I've bought some for VERY reasonable prices ($25 max for a well-finished quilt, but usually $10 or less) at garage sales, estate sales, auctions and thrift stores ... and from craigslist. My only advice is to shop carefully, bargains are out there but so are ripoffs. One auctioneer sold 2 used quilts, a cutter quilt, a baby quilt, some feed sacks and bed linens as a box of rags - all for $10 ... that's been my best deal yet ... and it was at the end of a long day. I don't get that lucky very often; most of the time I walk away with nothing ... or at least, my money in my pocket.
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  4. #4
    Senior Member liont's Avatar
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    I am looking at the care aspects. Do you wash them?

  5. #5
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    Since I buy quilts to be used (in one way or another), I wash them in my machine on cold water as I do regular laundry. If it doesn't hold up, it gets to be a cutter quilt. If you are collecting for heirloom quality, some people hand wash gently to preserve the quality of the quilt. It depends upon your goals in purchasing old quilts.
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  6. #6
    Senior Member liont's Avatar
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    Thanks Marymo. I am more looking at collecting them for display, not so much for use. I am just a little wary about what old qults have been through, if I should be washing them first, and if I wash them, I will spoil them.
    But I really love the look and feel of old quilts.

  7. #7
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    I also wash them in my washer with some white vinegar in the wash cycle. Often times you will have to repair a seam or two.... I had to replace fabric on one quilt. The same fabric just frayed away in all the blocks. You have to remember that years ago people often quilted for utility, not beauty. They used fabrics from old clothes that might have been worn out and sometimes the fabrics weren't all cotton. Even if they were, they might have a dye that weakens them over time. And, bleeding colors is another problem. The colors weren't always fast back years ago. That's why I add the white vinegar.

  8. #8
    Senior Member liont's Avatar
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    Great tip, nanna-up-north.
    So, just to be clear to newbie me, do you wash with detergent, or just vinegar?
    Thanks
    Last edited by liont; 05-26-2012 at 06:45 AM.

  9. #9
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Reasons to NOT wash vintage/antique quilts:
    1. AQS certified appraisers say it will downwardly affect the appraisal value.
    2. Many "old" fabrics will begin to disintegrate when wet, either from undetected dry rot or from the 'rust' of iron mordant dyes.
    3. Fading may be more noticeable after washing.
    4. Bleeding of the colors is possible in older fabrics.
    5. If the quilt has never been washed, shrinking may be sporadic and affect the design and flatness of the quilt.

    Reasons FOR washing a vintage/antique quilt:
    1. Who knows where this quilt has been!
    2. There may be molds, pollens, animal danders on the quilt that will affect the new owner.
    3. Some stains left on a quilt surface will cause damage to fabrics.
    4. You don't plan to use the quilt for it's museum/monetary value.
    5. You will be placing the quilt on your bed or other furniture -- see #1.
    6. Your baby/toddler will claim it as his own -- see #1.
    7. You plan to share it with your guild which has many members -- see #2. (My guild, for instance, has a strict no perfume/scents/odors policy)
    8. You don't know the 'real' value of the quilt and don't plan to pay for an appraisal ever.

    I generally wash, for all the above reasons, but collect only quilts that have been 'loved' and have 'history'. I don't expect to ever have another museum quality quilt that I have to protect with such care I can hardly enjoy it. (other than my family quilt from ca. 1780 that is now in the textile museum in Colonial Williamsburg.)

    Jan in VA
    Last edited by Jan in VA; 05-26-2012 at 07:34 AM.
    Jan in VA
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    peacefully colors my world.
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/members...bums19552.html

  10. #10
    Senior Member liont's Avatar
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    Thanks Jan in VA. That is a comprehensive list
    Wow, you have some history there. Amazing.

  11. #11
    Super Member Wunder-Mar's Avatar
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    I just dropped $550 on several eBay purchases. First and foremost, you get what you get, Caveat Emptor and all that. The description mentioned "vintage 1920's and 1930's" in all of them, but there was NO 1920's fabric in there. Some of the 1930's fabric was indeed feedsack, the rest were higher quality cottons, so I am pleased either way.

    Photos are critically important but DO NOT replace eyeballing the actual piece; you can't really tell the accuracy of the cutting or piecing from a photo.

    I bought 42 Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks; 24 of them were 1930's but were not accurately cut - the template the person used was included in the stuff and it was pretty wonky! I can easily re-use them as embellishments for crafts (such as an "imperfect table runner" using them as appliques, the part of a potholder that covers the back of your hand), but ... The other 18 had fabrics from the 60's, and many of them were not 100% cotton, and others were actually suiting or home dec fabrics. They go on the guild's "freebie" table next week and, if unclaimed, into the trash after the meeting adjourns.

    I also won a set of 85 Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks, also advertised as "vintage 1920's" but which were all gen-yu-ine 1930's blocks and BEAUTIFULLY cut and pieced. Each was clean and in mint condition. I also won some yardage of same-era soft white fabric - just as pristine as the blocks - which I'll use to make the white pathway units and connect the blocks.

    I also won a partially finished Grandmother's Flwer Garden quilt top, which, after rearranging some of the outer blocks, will finish at 60x60; I'll use another "win" of "gently aged" white fabric that looks just like the white fabric used in it to fill in the pathway and between the outer blocks.

    Another win was 32 Ocean Waves blocks (the half-square triangle "band," without the corner background/setting triangles); the workmanship was not perfect (nicked points on the HSTs) but they are charming to me because of the wide variety of authentic 1930's and 1940's fabrics used. Since I have a ton of scraps from that same period, I'll make 4 more of these blocks so I can complete a 3x3 (three across, three down) layout; four of these blocks - with the corner background/setting triangles - forms a complete big-ole-block.

    The ton of 1930's feedsack scraps I won in several auctions are genuine, and since I bought some same-era, similarly-aged white feedsack towels, I'll be able to create a vintage feedsack scrap quilt.

    SO - before you get what you get, you need two plans: (1) a best-case scenario plan for what you'll do with them if they're in great condition and well made and (2) a back-up plan for when they're not "ideal." Be prepared to re-sell what you're not pleased with, and to toss some items entirely.

    If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

  12. #12
    Super Member burchquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by liont View Post
    I am looking at the care aspects. Do you wash them?
    Are they actual quilts or tops? If they're just tops, I wouldn't wash them. If they are quilts, I think first I'd just air them out really good. Then, if that doesn't do it, I'd go ahead & wash them.
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    (.(. (..`..♥ rebecca

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