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Thread: Just purchased some old quilt tops, how do I wash them?

  1. #1
    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    Two of the quilts are grandmothers flower garden tops only. I am going to have to learn how to complete these quilts, but should I wash them first or quilt them first. They have been stored for many years and really need to be cleaned. I am going to hand wash in the bath tub but don't know if I should try that before they are stabalized with the quilting. What do you think?

    This auction was SOOOO much fun. I bought 8 quilts ranging from $10.00 for what they called a cutter quilt (which I will never cut into!!!) to $65.00 for a full size double wedding ring with purple in the middle and no damage anywhere. One is a Sunbonnet Sue that is well loved. I think I will put a new binding on it and restitch the buttonhole stitching where it is needed and then let my grand grandson use it to play on the floor.

  2. #2
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    somebody on here just washed a quilt top by basting some muslin on to the back then washing...to keep the seams covered, to keep the strings from fraying all over the place. I thought it was genius, you should give it a try!

  3. #3
    Super Member PurplePassion's Avatar
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    You are so lucky , post pictures .A cutter quilt ( if I am not mistaken) is a heavy quilt that was used in horse and buggy days; that they covered up their laps and legs with to stay warm.

  4. #4
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    A cutter quilt is one that has been very used and parts are not reparable. Pieces of it can be salvaged to use for other craft items.

    The horse and buggy quilt may also go by that name as some of the buggys were called cutters.(?)

  5. #5
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    Lucky you! I love old quilts. I hope you canpost some pictures!

  6. #6
    Super Member beachlady's Avatar
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    Please post pictures!!! What a wonderful find!

  7. #7
    Cathie_R's Avatar
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    I love old quilts and buy tops whenever I find them reasonable. However, I usually finish them before washing. Was always afraid they would come apart.

  8. #8
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    You raise a good question. I love to buy old tops and quilt them myself but I like to soak them first and air dry. It's more enjoyable for me to work on them that way. I had one problem years ago with a top coming apart but I machine washed it. I was new to quilting and didn't even notice the seams which weren't done very tight. I still used the fabrics for another quilt though.
    Thanks for the post! I'm enjoying all the opinions :D
    Oh and congrats for getting the bargains!!!!!!! Isn't it FUN???

  9. #9
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    What a wonderful find! I love the vintage tops and am always on the lookout for them. I always completly finish quilting and binding before washing. Some have had pieces that were fragile, these I backed with fusible web. Some have been pretty dirty but came out fine after all was done with a gentel wash/spot treating. Please post pictures, we'd love to see them. Enjoy!

  10. #10
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    If you feel the need to wash them, how about basting a sheet to them and make sure you "wrap" it around the edges of the top to stabilize them and minimize fraying?

    If you have allergies and the tops are making you react, perhaps you could get someone else to do it for you?

  11. #11
    Senior Member momymom's Avatar
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    A quilt restorer [sp] once told me to fill the bathtub with tepid water and quilt wash. Be sure to disolve the quilt wash first, it's thick. Put the quilt/quilt top on a sheet and lower it in. You'll need help, it's a 2 person job. Gently swish it around and let it soak. Drain the tub. gently squeeze the water out, remove from the tub, and refill the tub to rinse, using the sheet to move the quilt in and out. Reapeat if needed.
    I recieved an old top that had been exposed to years of cigarette smoke. This method got the smell and the yellow color out. Now I can layer and quilt it.

  12. #12
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    My first choice would be to finish the quilt and then wash.

    If there is bias on the edges, I would be even more tempted to finish the quilt before washing and air it out well if there is an odor that bothered me.

    If not, I really like the suggestion of using the sheet to manuever the top/or quilt in the bath tub. I like that you are not pulling at the top, the sheet bears all of the weight, and distortion would be minimal. Thank you for sharing this :D:D:D

  13. #13
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    I would agree that if you can, quilt the top prior to washing to stabalize it. Even then, the method of washing in the bathtub to lift it in and out is appropriate.

    Congratulations on your finds and rescue. Look forward to seeing the pictures.

  14. #14
    reach for the stars 2's Avatar
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    I think I would hand wash. I have used Woolite.

  15. #15
    mygirl66's Avatar
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    I love auctions! I'm glad those quilts have a good home! I would wash them in the bath tub, but thats just me, then line dry, and iron when it's a lil damp.

  16. #16
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I have an old top from my MIL and it was dirty. So I hand-washed it in the tub. Now I have a ravelled mess that I have to wrangle into submission. I will probably burn the heck out of my hands in the pressing process and I wish I had finished it first.

  17. #17
    Super Member Rainbow's Avatar
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    Finishing first gives SUCH body to the quilt.... All the quilt tops I have received have been clean - thank goodness !!

    BUT !!! if it is dirty/smelly, I LOVE the idea the person gave on laying it on the sheet to put it in the tub water !!!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member momymom's Avatar
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    I just checked back in, I realized I didn't finish the directions for tub washing the quilt. After the final rinse, gently squeeze out all the water you can. Still on the sheet, Put it out side in the shade to air dry. The sheet bears all the weight of the quilt. It will be heavy. The sheet helps protect the stitches, and the fabric from tearing out. It is especially important for antique quilts.

  19. #19
    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions. I think I will use the sheet method. I have one of my grandsons with me since school is over for the year and he can help me with lifting it in and out of the tub. Thanks again. I knew I would get good information.

  20. #20
    tooMuchFabric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurplePassion
    You are so lucky , post pictures .A cutter quilt ( if I am not mistaken) is a heavy quilt that was used in horse and buggy days; that they covered up their laps and legs with to stay warm.
    From what I've seen, a cutter is a quilt that is so raggedy, or what the seller calls raggedy, that they think you will want to cut it up for home dec pieces like chair covers or teddy bears or framed bits of quilt blocks or teapot cozies.

  21. #21
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    How did it work to use the sheet/bathtub/quilt wash method?

    Are you able to work on the tops now?

  22. #22
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
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    I was told to never wash old quilts instead use a vacuum on it with several layers of old panty hose on the nozzel and just clean them that way. This was from a lady from the quilt museum in Indiana. She came to our quilt guild last month and spoke to us.

  23. #23
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    I would love to see pics of these wonderful quilts. I am so envious of you. What great buys.

  24. #24
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
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    did you get the quilts washed and please post pictures for us

  25. #25
    Super Member roseOfsharon's Avatar
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    Oh my goodness! You will have to post some pictures when you can. I would love to see them.

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