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Thread: finishing a vintage quilt - binding question

  1. #1
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    finishing a vintage quilt - binding question

    Hi y'all!

    A friend has asked me to finish a quilt for her that her mom started and almost finished. I haven't done any research on it yet but it looks like it was a commercially pre-printed muslin top onto which flowers were appliqued: 99% of the applique is done; 90% of the quilting is done - all by hand. So far, no problem, because I am confident I can mimic her mom's style to finish the last bits so that they'll blend in with her work.

    What I am doubtful about is the binding. On a quilt that was otherwise done entirely by hand is it OK to apply the binding by machine? I always do the second side by hand, but I have never applied both sides of the binding by hand...and shudder to think how long that would take! I have not seen other examples of this lady's work, so I don't know if she did machine piecing, or if she truly did everything by hand! (There is no piecing of any kind in this quilt.)

    What do you all think? (Thanks!)

    Alison

  2. #2
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Since the machine stitching does not show when finishing the binding by hand, that seems like a way to speed up the process and still keep the hand quilted look.

    However if you are wanting to keep it completely in the vintage style, doing it all by hand would be more appropriate.

  3. #3
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    Your description of the quilt may be from 1930 to 1950 . If so I doubt the binding was attached entirely by hand. I believe machine and hand is ok

  4. #4
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    I go by remarks from Barbara Brackman who is well known for her research on antique quilts and her reproduction fabric lines. Barbara has stated that when sewing machines were selling at over 100,000 per year by 1861 it was not uncommon for the backing of a quilt to be pieced by machine even if all other seams were sewn by hand. To me, it would seem to follow that women would also sew the bindings on by machine, since the seam would not show. Quilts prior to 1900 were also machine quilted -- with curves, by the way!

    One of my favorite expressions is,"Women were not stupid, they were put upon!" (meaning they often had to do a phenomenal amount of physical labor to care for their homes and families; of *course* they would avail themselves of any labor-saving device or appliance they could!)

    Sew the binding on by machine and feel no shame about it. Go for it in good company!

    Jan in VA
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    peacefully colors my world.
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  5. #5
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Jan, you always have such good information and advice!
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  6. #6
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    Agree! Sewing machines were in fairly common use around 1870, so do the first side of the binding by machine. There's even a picture in one of my books (forget which one) of a woman using a frame to machine quilt on a treadle machine! (Kinda like the way John Flynn does, but her frame only has two bars.) Blows me away every time I see it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA View Post
    I go by remarks from Barbara Brackman who is well known for her research on antique quilts and her reproduction fabric lines. Barbara has stated that when sewing machines were selling at over 100,000 per year by 1861 it was not uncommon for the backing of a quilt to be pieced by machine even if all other seams were sewn by hand. To me, it would seem to follow that women would also sew the bindings on by machine, since the seam would not show. Quilts prior to 1900 were also machine quilted -- with curves, by the way!

    One of my favorite expressions is,"Women were not stupid, they were put upon!" (meaning they often had to do a phenomenal amount of physical labor to care for their homes and families; of *course* they would avail themselves of any labor-saving device or appliance they could!)

    Sew the binding on by machine and feel no shame about it. Go for it in good company!

    Jan in VA

  7. #7
    Senior Member teddysmom's Avatar
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    I also hand piece and hand quilt but always machine sew the binding to the front of the quilt and then turn and hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
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    I would machine sew the first part of the binding and not think twice. Go for it. As someone else already said, this part does not show. I am sure she would be very happy that it is being finished so that it can be used, and enjoyed.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  9. #9
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    Thank you all!

    I am pretty sure my friend wouldn't care either way (not being a sewer herself it wouldn't be something she's thought about, and she will indeed be glad to see it come home finished) but I would have hated to mess up an old quilt out of laziness! I am so glad the consensus is in favor of machine on one side and hand on the other, and that is what I will do.

    Alison

  10. #10
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alisonquilts View Post
    Hi y'all!

    A friend has asked me to finish a quilt for her that her mom started and almost finished. I haven't done any research on it yet but it looks like it was a commercially pre-printed muslin top onto which flowers were appliqued: 99% of the applique is done; 90% of the quilting is done - all by hand. So far, no problem, because I am confident I can mimic her mom's style to finish the last bits so that they'll blend in with her work.

    What I am doubtful about is the binding. On a quilt that was otherwise done entirely by hand is it OK to apply the binding by machine? I always do the second side by hand, but I have never applied both sides of the binding by hand...and shudder to think how long that would take! I have not seen other examples of this lady's work, so I don't know if she did machine piecing, or if she truly did everything by hand! (There is no piecing of any kind in this quilt.)

    What do you all think? (Thanks!)

    Alison
    If you wanted to keep it more of an antique style you could bring the backing around to the front for a faux binding or you can fold both edges in for a knife edge finish.

  11. #11
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    No one but you will know the binding was sewn on by machine. Go for it.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

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