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Thread: HELP for inheritance quilter!

  1. #1

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    My mother passed away unexpectantly, leaving me with 11 quilt tops pieced and ready to be quilted and 5 tops with the pieces cut out but not pieced. One of the tops just pieces is the "Coal MIner". The pieces are cut out but I don't have any instructions or any idea of how to put it together. Also, one of the pieced tops is a family heirloom. My great-great-grandmother pieced it sometime in the 1880's. It is made of silk and has never been quilted- just passed down through the generations. I would like to break this pattern before the top falls apart but I don't know what I should line it with or if today's batting would be acceptable to quilt it. Can anyone out there help me? Please?

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the quiltingboard. I am sorry for your loss. I know how much you will miss your mother. It is wonderful that you have her treasured work to preserve. I would so much love to see photos of her work and your gggrandmothers pieced in the 1880's.
    Posting photos is not hard, don't be shy trying it. We all had to learn. Go to our Home page. Click on Pictures. Click on How to post pictures. If you have questions just update this post and we will help you./Regards, Dorothy

  3. #3

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    Cotton batting is fine for this but with silk crazy quilting with embroidery stitches would have been the most common. There is a book called Elegant Stitches and if you don't embroider just follow the pictures its great. Cotton backing is also fine. Just don't store this in plastic. Cotton pillow case or frame it.

  4. #4
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    You may want to think twice about "finishing" the silk top. A newly quilted old top becomes a new quilt and if the top is of unique design it is frequently much more valuable left "as is". Both sides of the issue are found here: http://www.quiltersreview.com/articl...t/010409_c.asp

    This would be especially true if the silks are cigarette silks or if the top was intended to be a crazy quilt. Victorian crazy quilts had no batting and no practical purpose. They were simply "for show" and were not really quilts at all. Learn more here: http://www.quiltersmuse.com/crazy_quilts_in_America.htm

    A local antique dealer, quilt appraiser, or even a knowledgeable quilt shop owner can help you determine whether it would be better to leave the silk top alone.

  5. #5
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    I agree, don't quilt the silk top! Roll it up on a tube covered with acid free paper and wrap it in more acid free OR take it to a cleaners and have them package it for you. It will keep it's value more thus.

  6. #6
    Moderator sharon b's Avatar
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    Hello and Welcome !

    So sorry for your loss

    I wish you luck on finding the pattern you need :thumbup:

  7. #7
    Moderator sharon b's Avatar
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    When I Googled Coal Miner quilt it showed a quilt that appears to be applique . Is that what you have ?

  8. #8
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by handmedownquilter
    My mother passed away unexpectantly, leaving me with 11 quilt tops pieced and ready to be quilted and 5 tops with the pieces cut out but not pieced. One of the tops just pieces is the "Coal MIner". The pieces are cut out but I don't have any instructions or any idea of how to put it together. Also, one of the pieced tops is a family heirloom. My great-great-grandmother pieced it sometime in the 1880's. It is made of silk and has never been quilted- just passed down through the generations. I would like to break this pattern before the top falls apart but I don't know what I should line it with or if today's batting would be acceptable to quilt it. Can anyone out there help me? Please?
    Hello, and welcome to the QuiltingBoard! Glad you are here. So sorry about your mother passing away so unexpectedly, I know that must be hard.

    My feeling on vintage quilt tops is this - some people feel that they should be preserved just as they are without any finishing, and I can understand the historic value in doing that. However, my feeling is that something tucked away in a drawer is exactly that - tucked away in a drawer - not being used and enjoyed and loved. My wife and I are good friends with an older couple and he has about a dozen quilt tops that were made by his grandmother before she passed away in 1937 at age 93. They want these tops quilted and turned into quilts, as she intended, so I have been quilting them for them. I've done 7 so far and they are using these quilts on their beds, displayed, etc. As she put it, they wanted to be able to see them everyday and have them be a remembrance that they could actively enjoy.

    So it really depends on how you want to eventually pass along the top to the next generation I guess. It's a personal decision we all make about our heirlooms, so just do what seems right for you.

  9. #9
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    I agree with Eddie...but I do see the point of leaving it "as is" if ever it would have to go to auction or be sold for some reason.

    Personally, if I leave this life with a quilt unfinished I would love it if a family member finished it, kind of completing the circle.

  10. #10
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    I agree with Eddie. Stay tuned and you will get lots of advice.

  11. #11
    Super Member walen's Avatar
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    I agree with Eddie, too. That's what I would want if there was something in progress when I pass.

  12. #12
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    Welcome! Sorry sorry about your Mom!

  13. #13
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I think completing the tops made by your mother is a fine idea if that is what you want to do. My caution was about the silk one only. Silks of that period will not hold up to any kind of use at all. They were colored and treated with metals with no thought given to archival properties. At it's best, silk is a delicate fiber when new. Yours is 130 years old.

  14. #14
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    I have to chime in, too. I agree with Eddie...if you want to donate an old quilt top to a museum or something, then by all means leave it unquilted. Are you going to sell it? I doubt it, so the "value" issue of leaving it unquilted is kind of moot. If you are going to pass it down through your family as an heirloom, then it will have more "value" to your family as a finished quilt. It will not only make it easier to "maintain" the condition of the quilt, but it can be displayed in a much more pleasing way. Who wants to look at a ragged edged quilt top, unless it's framed behind glass with the edges tucked under?

    It's totally up to you, but if they were mine, I would finish them the way the maker would undoubtedly have done, and then hang, drape or otherwise display and enjoy them.

    I like to think the ladies who made the tops are up in Heaven looking down, thinking, "Ah, now my work is finished!" :thumbup:

  15. #15
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    Welcome to the board from Southern California!!!
    I am so sorry to hear of you loss!!!

  16. #16
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    I see the points all of you are making. :) However silk at that age is probably not very stable and that is the reason I suggested not doing anything with it. Perhaps get the opinion of a fabrics professional. :)

  17. #17
    Super Member Fiber Artist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dakotamaid
    I see the points all of you are making. :) However silk at that age is probably not very stable and that is the reason I suggested not doing anything with it. Perhaps get the opinion of a fabrics professional. :)
    I agree

  18. #18
    Super Member kwhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dakotamaid
    I see the points all of you are making. :) However silk at that age is probably not very stable and that is the reason I suggested not doing anything with it. Perhaps get the opinion of a fabrics professional. :)
    I agree too, however if it is strong enough to finish and you choose to do so I say only hand quilt a top that old. The original quilt if finished when peiced would have been and IMO that is the only way to finish a quilt like that.

  19. #19
    Super Member cmagee84's Avatar
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    So glad you joined the board and so sorry for your loss.

    I recently finished 6 quilt tops that had been made my friends grandmother. It was mostly old clothing and he recognized his mother's dress, his dad's work shirt, etc. He gave each of his siblings one and kept one for his son. I think they are priceless memories and was happy to be a part of preserving them.

    So my vote is...finish them. However, I have no experience or comment about the silk top!! :)

  20. #20

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    I'm chiming in again. We know that you probably are not going to sell it but the framing thought would be good if of course its not to big and you have a wall that size. Sotherbys (the guys from the road show) says a finished quilt is more valuable. They say "an unfinished top should not be worth anymore than $100.00" Its the quilting part that is the value. I have a quilt from 1849 that is in the family. The Smithsonian museum in DC offered us $44,000.00 for it. We're not giving it up but I am reproducting 4 of them for the family then they can get it. Not until then.

  21. #21
    Super Member Ditter43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenney Horst
    I'm chiming in again. We know that you probably are not going to sell it but the framing thought would be good if of course its not to big and you have a wall that size. Sotherbys (the guys from the road show) says a finished quilt is more valuable. They say "an unfinished top should not be worth anymore than $100.00" Its the quilting part that is the value. I have a quilt from 1849 that is in the family. The Smithsonian museum in DC offered us $44,000.00 for it. We're not giving it up but I am reproducting 4 of them for the family then they can get it. Not until then.
    Can we see it?

  22. #22

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    I'll get it out and take a really good picture of it. I also have a signature one from 1895 from the other side of the family. The center is embroidered with the date. The place we think has become part of Lebonon Missouri. The towns are still on the map.

  23. #23
    Super Member adrianlee's Avatar
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    I am sorry to hear about your mother. I'm sure she is watching from above and just as curious as the quilting board on how you will handle the quilt tops. How wonderful she left you her projects. When you decide I would love to see the photos. Warm hugs.

  24. #24
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    Welcome to the board. Heartfelt sorrows for the loss of your mother. Treasure all the memories you have of her rather they are tangible or intangible.

  25. #25
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jljack
    I have to chime in, too. I agree with Eddie...if you want to donate an old quilt top to a museum or something, then by all means leave it unquilted. Are you going to sell it? I doubt it, so the "value" issue of leaving it unquilted is kind of moot. If you are going to pass it down through your family as an heirloom, then it will have more "value" to your family as a finished quilt. It will not only make it easier to "maintain" the condition of the quilt, but it can be displayed in a much more pleasing way. Who wants to look at a ragged edged quilt top, unless it's framed behind glass with the edges tucked under?

    It's totally up to you, but if they were mine, I would finish them the way the maker would undoubtedly have done, and then hang, drape or otherwise display and enjoy them.


    I like to think the ladies who made the tops are up in Heaven looking down, thinking, "Ah, now my work is finished!" :thumbup:
    when you have an unfinished top in delicate fabrics that will not handle day-to-day use, and you also don't want to hide it away, donating it to a museum in the name of the maker is a wonderful thing to do. it will be appreciated by people interested in quilting history and preserve the quilt under the right conditions.
    just don't be disappointed if you don't see it displayed immediately. it will have to be examined carefully, restored where necessary and wait it's turn for display. but it will last for your family members to visit it for generations to come.
    NOTE: ask them or a private service to estimate the value for charitable donation tax purposes.

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