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Thread: Need advice - 100 year old silk from China

  1. #1
    Super Member BizzieLizzie's Avatar
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    A friend asked if I would make her 4 year old a quilt and I gladly said I would. She asked that I used some Chinese silk which used to be her grandmother's wedding dress. Embroidered and stitched by hand by her grandmother 100 years, may be more, ago.

    There isn't enough for a whole quilt and I will need to add fabric to it. My worry is that the Silk will not hold up to wear and tear. I noticed that there is feed sack on the back of the 'collar' pieces, stabilising the embroidery.

    There are little areas where there is weakness in the embroidered tapes already, mainly along the edges. There is wear and tear, water marks and also little black spots. What do you think? Is there any way to try and secure the fabric pieces with new silk or cotton?

    I am open to suggestions. My friend would really like to have these fabrics on her son's quilt and I would like to try and do a good job of it.

    The other question is weather machine sewing will damage the fabrics? I would really welcome all help with this one!

    There are quite a few pictures to come.

    Thank you for taking the time and for the advice.

    One of two pieces making the skirt of the wedding garment
    Name:  Attachment-270239.jpe
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    Close up showing the lovely embroidery
    Name:  Attachment-270240.jpe
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    Not sure what these pieces are but at a guess must be the collar. All embroidered with different flowers
    Name:  Attachment-270241.jpe
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    Water damage and tiny black spots on the back
    Name:  Attachment-270243.jpe
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    Feed sack on behind of 'collar' pieces
    Name:  Attachment-270244.jpe
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    Damage on tape along the edge
    Name:  Attachment-270246.jpe
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    Another close up of the embroidery
    Name:  Attachment-270249.jpe
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    THe other side of the 'skirt' panel
    Name:  Attachment-270254.jpe
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    Another area where the tape has perished
    Name:  Attachment-270259.jpe
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    Close up of embroidery
    Name:  Attachment-270263.jpe
Views: 106
Size:  40.9 KB

    Close up of embroidery
    Name:  Attachment-270267.jpe
Views: 96
Size:  64.8 KB

  2. #2
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    Beautiful silk, the embroidery is amazing.

  3. #3
    Super Member BizzieLizzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewgull
    Beautiful silk, the embroidery is amazing.
    Exactly what I said when I first saw it. Thank you.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Lucymae's Avatar
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    It it so beautiful. I would be afraid to touch it. It seems that a bed quilt would not be practical. maybe a wall hanging? It is definetly an heirloom. let us see what you accomplish with this challenge!!

  5. #5
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    oh my....no way will that hold up to wear and use...let alone Laundry! and for a child???...I nearly fainted...

    try to explain to her the fragile state of silk and how it must be cared for. Perhaps you can make her a special wall hanging from it or something..But please NOT a childs quilt!

    the water damage with black spots..the spots are from mold.

    you might also do some research online about the care of vintage silk.

  6. #6
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    This is beautiful fabric. I believe the black spots are mold, though. I'd take the fabric to a reputable cleaners and get their take on it. Once I purchased a brand new all silk dress to wear to a family wedding. During the party, the dress literally shredded up the side seams leaving me quite exposed. Turns out, the fabric was found to be old and I was fully refunded. (I ended up wearing my husbands suit jacket for the remainder of the night) Silks can be funny....

  7. #7
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    I would design a quilt with a foundation peicing somewhat like a crazy quilt would be done. Foundattion would be a good qaulity muslin prewashed and ironed. I would use a fine needle in the machine and it should be fine but would test a small area first. I would not try to repair the damaged tape. I would work around the damage. This quilt when finished should be displayed and not used I don't think it will hold up with wear.
    Glenn

  8. #8
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaciqltznok
    oh my....no way will that hold up to wear and use...let alone Laundry! and for a child???...I nearly fainted...

    try to explain to her the fragile state of silk and how it must be cared for. Perhaps you can make her a special wall hanging from it or something..But please NOT a childs quilt!

    the water damage with black spots..the spots are from mold.

    you might also do some research online about the care of vintage silk.
    Same thoughts here.

  9. #9
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    I would politely decline. The fabric is way to fragile to be used in a quilt. I'd suggest she get the mold issue resolved then have the remaining fabric and embroideries made into a shadowbox or wall hanging or picture, framed by a professional picture framer.

  10. #10
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    i can't imagine a child dragging that around in a quilt. the wall hanging idea is a good one. maybe a small strong piece could be used in the label area so that the child can have a part of memory all of the time.

  11. #11
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    It's not suitable for a quilt. If she insists then make one and let her worry about keeping it together.

  12. #12
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    I opened this thread with thoughts of 'ooohs' and 'ahhhhs' then I read "quilt for a 4 year old".

    Broke my heart that she would consider using such a treasure for a 4 year old boy to drag around the house.

    Aside from my personal feelings ... I don't think the fabric is well suited to further use. I would encourage her to find a way to have it professionally preserved.

  13. #13
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    This fabric (which I cannot see) is too precious as is - should be preserved and not touched!

  14. #14
    Super Member amyjo's Avatar
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    I would not make a child's quilt out of that precious wedding gown. It should be used in a wall hanging after taking it to someone to get rid of the mold. Put the wallhaning behind glass so the child has it for rememberance of grandma. make one of similar colors with some embroidery(copycat). something sturdy for a child to drag around and get washed many times.

  15. #15
    Super Member maine ladybug's Avatar
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    The part that is water damaged appears to be made of a different fabric,maybe cotton? If it is, can that part just be removed and not used?
    As for the other, the silks are beautiful and look very fragile, so I think I would reinforce by hand the parts I could and then I would use an interfacing on the fabric before I cut it to make the quilt. It looks like it would make a beautiful crazy quilt, but I sure wouldn't give it to a child!!

  16. #16
    Junior Member simplyme's Avatar
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    I can understand her wanting to make something special with this gown but not a quilt for a 5 year old. Most silk can't be washed and never something that is as old at this. I would never take on something like this. I would go crazy of something happened while I was working with it and there would be no way to replace it. This is too much for someone to ask as a favor.

  17. #17
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    Can you go to a fabric/quilt museum and ask the staff?
    The sentiment is nice but older silk sometimes shatters.

  18. #18
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Maybe compromise a bit. I would reinforce one of the collar pieces with an iron on stabilizer and incorporate it into the child's quilt. But the majority of the dress should be preserved and used for another purpose. A wall hanging would be wonderful.

  19. #19
    Senior Member shnnn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltnNan
    i can't imagine a child dragging that around in a quilt. the wall hanging idea is a good one. maybe a small strong piece could be used in the label area so that the child can have a part of memory all of the time.
    This is what I was thinking -
    Silks generally aren't washable -- I don't use anything that isn't able to go in my washing machine, and I'm surely not going to give anything unwashable to my kids!

  20. #20
    Senior Member MissSandra's Avatar
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    Oh what ashame that lovely silk should have been left alone wraped properly to stablize it and held for a keepsake in a treasured place or framed , a quilt for a 4 yr old no no no.

  21. #21
    Super Member BizzieLizzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess
    Maybe compromise a bit. I would reinforce one of the collar pieces with an iron on stabilizer and incorporate it into the child's quilt. But the majority of the dress should be preserved and used for another purpose. A wall hanging would be wonderful.
    I was wondering about using small bits in applique, in various areas, like a 'peek a boo' sort of thing. The collar bits look ok but are beginning to 'dust' unless it is actually dirt.... :?: :oops: the specks are fine and I didn't want to test the notion! :lol:

    Thank you for the compromise!

  22. #22
    Super Member BizzieLizzie's Avatar
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    Thank you ALL for your VALUABLE advice. All I could think when my friend produced the fabric was 'Oh my, ummm.....How on earth am I going to wing this one! " :lol: I may have even said it out loud! :lol:

    I got home and thought once cut cannot be uncut....then panic sort of set in. Well then I thought I would ask the questions on QB. :thumbup: If there is a any way of doing things - someone will know and will always help.

    I am somewhat relieved that I am not the only one with reservations about using this fabric, pretty though it is and would look nice :| - Thank you all for your time.

  23. #23
    Super Member leiladylei54's Avatar
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    I don't think silk is washable and I also don't think it's suitable for a child knowing how dirty they can make a quilt in a short time. Maybe some kind of wall hanging or something might be more suitable in this case. Actually, if it were me, I would somehow display it exactly how it is without cutting it up. It has family significance and to cut it up....would be a shame.

  24. #24
    k3n
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    I can only agree with most of the other posters - this piece has historical significance - at least to her family if not the public. Encourage her to preserve it and make the little lad Thomas the Tank Engine or something. :-D

  25. #25
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    I have to agree with most of the others. Silk this old will shred when you start to work with it let alone sew it into a quilt, especially for a child. I think she should take it to a university textile department and seek advice on having it preserved for future generations including her son.

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