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Thread: How to care for a vintage quilt top

  1. #1

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    Hi everyone, I bought this vintage quilt top on ebay. It just arrived in the mail today! It was machine pieced in the 1940s. The pattern is Grandmother's Flower Garden. I believe the fabrics are feedsacks. It's in beautiful condition and I want to add a back and handquilt it. I would like to wash it first, but don't know how and what to use. I have a front load washing machine that has a delicate/handwash cycle. Could I do that? And what type of detergent should I use? Also, should I press it after it's been washed?

    The backside of a block.
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  2. #2
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    I'd wash it on gentle, using regular detergent and a dye catcher. Dry on the line or in machine with a big towel and iron before fully dry. There's always a bit of the unknown with old tops, but if you don't prewash and it shrank or the dye ran after you assembled it, you'd regret not taking the time up front.

  3. #3
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    Here is some information for you to check out. A lot depends on the condition of the fabrics and the seams, especially with a front loading washer. I think I'd go with Orvus in the bathtub, just to be safe. Very nice top, it'll be stunning finished off. :-)

    http://www.quilthistory.com/cleaning.htm
    http://www.marilynquilts.com/id23.html
    http://www.centerforthequilt.org/que...ry_soiled.html

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the advice and links! I'm off to do some research.

  5. #5
    mgshaw's Avatar
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    That is a great top!!! Did you get any other history on it other than when it was made?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mgshaw
    That is a great top!!! Did you get any other history on it other than when it was made?
    Actually I did. It was purchased at an estate sale. The lady who pieced it was named Glenna Probert and she was from Hooper, Colorado. One of the blocks has the date 1949 on it. That's all I know though.

  7. #7
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    That is great, I would put all that info on a label! I have some old signature blocks that my aunt and uncle bought at an auction years ago but I have no idea where they are from other than Arkansas, dont know the year either. I would love to know everything about these ladies!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mgshaw
    That is great, I would put all that info on a label! I have some old signature blocks that my aunt and uncle bought at an auction years ago but I have no idea where they are from other than Arkansas, dont know the year either. I would love to know everything about these ladies!
    I find old quilts and blocks fascinating! It's like holding history in your hands. Are you planning to make your signature blocks into a quilt? Do you have photos of them? I'd like to see them. I'll definitely be putting Glenna's name on the quilt along with mine.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loretta
    I made one similiar to yours last winter- it was fun and I really recommend that you have a long arm quilter baste it for you so the hand quilting is easier. It cost 20 dollars for sandwiching it and basting it and few dollars extra for the thread. Well worth it! http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/8722.page
    Thank you, Loretta! That is a great idea!

  10. #10
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    I had to hunt to find them but here they are. there are 13 of them. I do want to put them together someday
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mgshaw
    I had to hunt to find them but here they are. there are 13 of them. I do want to put them together someday
    Those are awesome! What a unique pattern. Those look like 1930s prints! Do you have any ideas about how you will put them together?

  12. #12
    Super Member Carol W's Avatar
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    What a beautiful quilt top!!!

    I purchased a hand pieced hand quilted quilt from an estate sale. It had several areas of stain from someone accidentally walking on it. By the time it arrived, the stains had set.

    I took it to my local fabric and quilt store. The owner said to wash it in my bathtub with very mild detergent. Gently agitating it with my hands and allowing it to soak.

    Then to rinse gently but thoroughly and dry outside.

    I hope this helps.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CissyQuilts
    Quote Originally Posted by mgshaw
    I had to hunt to find them but here they are. there are 13 of them. I do want to put them together someday
    Those are awesome! What a unique pattern. Those look like 1930s prints! Do you have any ideas about how you will put them together?
    I am still pondering on how to deal with the 13 block issue.Do I make a few more, one with my name but what on the others? Just dont know how to go about it, You got any ideas? I think I will have to put a sashing around them because they dont line up real well as far as the pattern on them.

  14. #14
    Senior Member humbird's Avatar
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    Good morning Cissyquilts......I just saw your wonderful GFG. You are so lucky to have it. If it were mine, I would not wash it before quilting. After looking at the back, it seems some of the seam allowences are perhaps a tad less than the usual 1/4 inch, and I would think it might ravel some. If you do deceide to wash it, I would do the bath tub method as recommended here by some of the other ladies, and perhaps cool water. Good luck in what ever you deceide. It's beautiful!

    mgshaw........your siggie blocks are also beautiful. It surly would be nice if you had some history on those ladies. Don't you wish we could go back in time and visit with them!?

    Phyllis


  15. #15
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgshaw
    I am still pondering on how to deal with the 13 block issue.Do I make a few more, one with my name but what on the others? Just dont know how to go about it, You got any ideas? I think I will have to put a sashing around them because they dont line up real well as far as the pattern on them.
    Sashing seems the perfect solution. you could also use the loner and build it out to a block the size of 4, either with applique or diamond-in-a-square piecing, to make a center medallion, surrounded by the others.

  16. #16
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    I recognize some of the fabric on your quilt.

    I haven't been reading these boards a lot and just came across this thread. It may be too late, but I wouldn't wash the top until after it is quilted. The top may ravel if you wash it. Certainly the seems unvravel.

  17. #17

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    Thanks, lisae. I decided not to wash it. I started hand quilting it about a week ago. It's going to take me a while to finish it.

  18. #18
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    I had an antique quilt top given to me, the blocks were sun bonnet sue appliqued on a white background. I put it in my washing machine on gentle cycle with a sheet of color catcher in it and it came out beautiful. Then I sandwiched it and hand quilted it. Finally finshed the whole thing this week, put it back in the washing machine to get the marks off it where I quilted it and I love the results. Have no idea who made this top. wish I did. Marge

  19. #19
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    I have some experience with this subject.

    First, the fabrics look to be in good shape, but those seam allowances are very small. Even a little agitation in your machine could cause raveling to some of the blocks to the point that you will also be having to restore some of the blocks. Been there, done that.

    Every top should be checked for fabric stability.

    Older tops don't usually hold up to modern quilting. Been there, done that, too. I just dont listen, have to find out for myself.

    So, I suggest you hand wash in a tub or large sink with a mild soap like Orvis, Oxy-clean or Shampoo for died hair(yes, I mean shampoo. Orvis is really a shampoo for horses!) I use Treseme on my silks.

    You can then put in your drier on a low temp until it is damp/dry. Then take it out and lay it on you bed to completely air dry.

    You can then carefully press the seam allowances and quilt.

    Fabrics from this period should hold up well to quilting and use.

    Once the quilt is done, you can wash in your front loader on a gentle cycle. At that point it is the spinning that can cause week fibers to break so gentle, gentle, gentle.

    You should end up with a beautiful, and very useful vintage quilt. As for historical dating, once you quilt it with modern fabrics, it will no longer be considered a 1940's quilt but a 2008(or whenever you finish it) quilt.
    So your label should tell the whole story and add your name and date as the quilter. I personally think that future historians will find that these multi generational quilts will be an important piece of quilt history.

    Another extremely long post by me, Judy

    Sorry girls, I get a little be windy...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CissyQuilts
    Thanks, lisae. I decided not to wash it. I started hand quilting it about a week ago. It's going to take me a while to finish it.
    I'm glad to hear you decided not to wash it. I've hand quilted several quilts that took me years to finish because I would start and stop. Enjoy quilting your top. It is beautiful! I think there is something special about quilting an older top. You get to know the fabric and the maker of the top.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgshaw
    I had to hunt to find them but here they are. there are 13 of them. I do want to put them together someday
    I cant see all of the names well, but...
    I found four of the women living in Howard Co. Arkansas in 1930.
    Two of them are neighbors living in the town of Dillard, Nelie Copeland and Addie Bradford.

    I found two of them living in Hempstead Co. Arkansas in 1930.

    Maybe sometime in the 30's they all ended up in Howard Co.

    Your blocks could be a set of presidents blocks... Maybe you could contact a quilt guild in Howard Co and see if they have any records they could search for these ladies

    Judy

  22. #22
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    Judy, Thank you Thank you!!!So glad you found something on them. I didnt know where to even begin looking!!!! You are awesome!!!!

  23. #23
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    I had to hunt to find them but here they are. there are 13 of them. I do want to put them together someday
    mgshaw
    I just came across this thread and noticed your photo. I bought some blocks off eBay that have the same pattern but no signatures. I thought it was an unusual pattern and still haven't decided what to do with them. Mine are all the same color, plain blue with white centers so they need something. Been considering some embroidery or an applique in the center. Any ideas?

  24. #24
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    Here is how your blocks were originally meant to be put together..
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