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Dating old fabric

Dating old fabric

Old 07-22-2020, 10:57 AM
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Default Dating old fabric

My friend gave me two quilt that her 96yo father had. He just passed away and she wanted me to have them and I am honored by her. I'd like to date the fabric. The quilt looks to be machine stitched and hand quilted. I have one book that has samples of what older fabrics look like, but it has 20 year spans. But, the fabric does look like it was made in the 30' or 40's.

Is anyone aware of a webite that I might be able to send a photo of the fabric so that I can get when it was made narrowed down to maybe a decade?

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Old 07-22-2020, 11:27 AM
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We will need pictures.
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:28 AM
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I am sorry that I don't know of a website, but there are a lot of quilters here who might know if you post a picture of the quilts. Sometimes, the pattern used is also useful to help with dating the fabric. Close-ups of the fabrics would be helpful too.
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:45 AM
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I admit -- I do not usually label my quilts. Have you looked over it carefully to see if there is a signature/date somewhere? Could be front or back. Family photo albums are a great help, so if you see a quilt in the background or with a gift shot it can help too.

Even if we can narrow it down a bit, it's pretty rare when we can precisely date a fabric unless someone has a definite memory of a particular piece -- so I'm only good down to the 1970s. Patterns are similar/reused but sometimes at different scales. Children's prints particularly can be hard to date, but there are still clues. There are some things like some dyes that are definitely dated because they didn't exist before certain times, or designs that were popular in particular periods.

The rule for quilts (or anything vintage really) is it is only as old as its newest piece. Quite often we do see scrap bag quilts that may be predominantly from the 30s or 40s but maybe not constructed until later, so we will have mixed prints and a solid background for example.

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Old 07-22-2020, 12:21 PM
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If you post pictures you will find a lot of people on here are familiar with patterns in the 30's and 40's. I think you will be able to confirm your suspicions even if you cannot get an exact year. Your other option is to find a museum close to you that has a textile department. Usually there is no charge for them to take a look at an item. In fact at this time you might be able to do it all by email and pictures. The 1930's and 40's are not that long ago when it comes to having information available.
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:01 PM
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You can have it appraised. Certified appraisers will be able to give you a date range.
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Old 07-22-2020, 05:00 PM
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check out Barbara Barackman's books--she does top notch job of "dating" fabrics and quilts
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Old 07-23-2020, 03:12 AM
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We can help if you post some pictures. If there is ever a quilt show again there is often an appraiser there.
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Old 07-23-2020, 05:19 AM
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I have 3 books about vintage/antique fabric and I would be happy to do some research for you if you can post a pic.
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Old 07-23-2020, 07:34 AM
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Yes, a picture would be very helpful. I would also check with an appraiser for a closer idea on when it was made. Also you may want to check with local museums. I have taken things to the Henry Ford Museum/ Greenfield Museum for dating things that I was not sure of and they were very helpful. I donated a number of old sewing machines to them about 40 years ago. All of those were already antiques at the time. They were very helpful with other antiques I had at the time.
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