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Thread: How old is too old....

  1. #1
    Junior Member jeanne307's Avatar
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    Ok I am a newbie here and this may have come up before, but I have a question about fabric. My grandmother left me all of her quilting supplies, fabric, notions, you name it. While going through the fabric and quilt tops given to me I found several top and blocks that appear to have been made by my great grandmother. She has been gone for about 40 years so i am going to say that these tops and squares are about 60 or more years old. My question now... how old is too old for fabric to be quilted? I don't want to ruin the pieces, tops or blocks so I thought I would see what you talented and gifted ladies have to say. thanks in advance for your help.

  2. #2
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    I would like to know this myself. I have an old quilt top that I don't know if I should quilt or not.

  3. #3
    Super Member dungeonquilter's Avatar
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    I have heard of many old tops being quilting to help perserve them, so I don't think any would be too old. However, is the fabric worn or frayed at all? This might have more to do with whether it can be quilted than the actual age.

  4. #4
    a regular here hazeljane's Avatar
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    I have a postage stamp quilt pieced by my great grandmother. (Who died in 1910). It is in excellent condition, and as soon as my skills are up to the challenge, I intend to quilt it.

    I think it depends on how brittle the fabric has become, and how it was stored. I frequently quilt tops that were pieced in the 30's with no problem at all.

  5. #5
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    Take it to a LQS and see what they say.

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    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    Take it to a LQS and see what they say.

  7. #7
    Junior Member jeanne307's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dungeonquilter
    I have heard of many old tops being quilting to help perserve them, so I don't think any would be too old. However, is the fabric worn or frayed at all? This might have more to do with whether it can be quilted than the actual age.
    As far as I can tell it isn't frayed... they seem to be in pretty good condition... just a little antiqued looking... but otherwise in excellent shape.

  8. #8
    Kas
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    It also depends on the age and rarity of the top. But if it is just for sentimental reasons you want it quilted and you aren't interested in the antique value, go for it. I guess what I am saying is if it is a 30's quilt, it has less value (right now) as an antique than say a quilt top from the 1800,s.

  9. #9
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    test the fabric and if still strong then quilt it and use it. Several years ago i had a top that was from late 1800 and needed some cleaning up. The pieces appeared to be stron so I gently washed it and all the brown squares disappeared. So depends on age, the dye used and how strong it is now.

  10. #10
    Junior Member jeanne307's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kas
    It also depends on the age and rarity of the top. But if it is just for sentimental reasons you want it quilted and you aren't interested in the antique value, go for it. I guess what I am saying is if it is a 30's quilt, it has less value (right now) as an antique than say a quilt top from the 1800,s.
    I'm not really sure how old it is... My great grandmother was born in 1889 so it could be something she made in the early 1900's... I also found some nine patch squares in her cedar chest. They were rolled up and tied with a ribbon and i don't know how old they are. I would like to take some of the ones that i don't have alot of (enough to make a quilt) and make a sampler out of it. I have a lot of different samples my grandmother did and then the ones my great grandmother did....

  11. #11
    Super Member jpmaroni's Avatar
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    Gerald Roy gave a presentation in May at our Quilt guild. He recommended not touching old quilts. More valuable just as they are, for several reasons. If we quilt or repair, you have just dated it to the present time. He has hundreds of tops that were never quilted and that's part of their charm. I probably didn't explain it correctly, but the gist is, enjoy it as it is.

  12. #12
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    if they are still in good shape---i don't believe age has anything to do with it- i work with someone who brought me a tumbling block quilt top her great-great grandmother made in 1883---she wanted it machine quilted- just to keep it together---there were a couple small places which were frayed a little bit- but the fabric although thin- was in good shape=
    i carefully fixed the small frayed places- bought a nice backing- cotton batting and quilted it- it came out so great! she is thrilled- to the point of deciding i didn't charge enough and it paying me more than i asked- and has told me there will be a couple more.
    age does not matter- the shape it's in determines how well it will hold up to finishing-

  13. #13
    Junior Member jeanne307's Avatar
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    Ck thanks for the comment... I think if I decide to quilt it I will hand quilt it since it was hand pieced... but I am glad your co worker loves her quilt...

    Janice thanks for your comment too... I have thought about just putting it in acid free tissue and an acid free box and storing it in a dry place and leaving it be... its just so pretty... I am not sure what the design is called but its squares... there is one in the center with one fabric then the row around the center is a different fabric but row 2 is all the same fabric and so on and so on.... its very striking....

  14. #14
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I have hand quilted several vintage tops for people, makes them more usable if that is what you want.
    I think the pattern you are describing is "Trip around the World."

    Good for you for choosing hand quilting for this old top. It's what your grandmother would have done.

    Welcome to the QB, your kitty looks like one I used to have.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Honeynga's Avatar
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    I don't have an answer either. I bought some fabric at a yard sale recently and some of it was so brittle that it almost fell apart in my hands. On the other hand, I have a quilt that my MIL mother made I don't know how many years ago and it seems to be ok...My MIL died several years ago in her 80's, so I don't know when her mom made that quilt...... It is a Sunbonnet Sue and the dresses are all from fabric of her childhood friends, along with their names ! it is awesome.

    On another note, if you ever want to get rid of that baby that is your avatar, keep me in mind!

  16. #16
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    I am so glad you are going to hand quilt this top of yours. That is exactly what it needs.

    If you'd like more info on old quilts...send me a PM.

  17. #17
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    Oopsy Daisy!

  18. #18
    Junior Member jeanne307's Avatar
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    Honeynga thanks for the comment... The avatar pic is of my Kitty Prissy, she died about 5 years ago at 22. You would have loved her because she was a lap kitty and a bed kitty... she always wanted to get under the covers with you... she slept next to me for 12 years.... would love to find another one just like her....

    Rose thank you for your comments and I will pm you with any questions I have on old quilts.... thank you for your help!!

  19. #19
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Just a quick thought...

    If you have a block that is precious that you really love, why not frame it? Might be a bit expensive but it would be really cool, preserved and out on display

  20. #20
    Junior Member jeanne307's Avatar
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    hopetoquilt I have thought about buying the 12 x 12 scrapbook shadowbox frames and doing just that... I have a lot of my grand mother and great grandmothers sewing notions and thought about just creating a shadow box of them.

  21. #21
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
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    There are two ways to go with this kind of quilt. Check with a long Arm Machine quilter (LAM) to see if they would agree to do it but there are no guarantees. The second way is to have it hand quilted by someone who does this. I think this would be more gentile on the quilt and maintain the aged quality of the piece. Church groups do this and it is not very expensive but worth it.
    Do some research before you decide. Looking forward to see it finished!
    peace

    PS: I missed the post about your hand quilting it. Wonderful! And even if you don't use it after it is finished It can be displayed.

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