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Thread: Vintage/Historic Quilt Top - Now What?

  1. #1
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    Vintage/Historic Quilt Top - Now What?

    Writing this has been really hard.

    A very, very close friend passed away several years ago, leaving me the entire contents of her sewing room to distribute according to her verbal instructions. Everything has been re-homed with the exception of a very few items that have personal meaning for me.

    The one quilt top I kept is especially rich in history and connections. This particular quilt top was hand sewn by my friend's grandmother during the Blitz in London, WWII. She sewed it while sheltering in the London Underground. It is unfinished - just a top. There were bits that needed to be connected to the main part of the top and I was instructed to use a machine. After a lot of agonizing, I did it. The top is together as per her instructions and I'm stuck. There was no discussion about how this top should wind up: stored, hung, etc.; just strengthened and joined and with me.

    Your help, technical, conservation suggestions, etc. would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I am so sorry for your loss of a dear friend. I am very much of the opinion that storing a quilt is a waste, and just plain sad. I think, given it's history, I would be tempted to hang the finished top as a showpiece, or perhaps even offer to loan it to a quilt museum, but in the end I would quilt it and use it--not every day, but when I needed a pick-me-up. I think wrapping myself in a quilt like that would be like getting a hug from a dear friend who is no longer around to give one.

  3. #3
    Super Member Kitsie's Avatar
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    Enjoy your gift!! Work on it with love, then find a way to display it for yourself! JJBlaine said it very well.
    http://s1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh485/KitsieH/
    Never regret growing older, its a privilege denied to many.
    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

    Kitsie

  4. #4
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    What about finishing the quilt and offering it to a museum in London? It was made during a time in their history. It would be shared with families who have been thru that time period.

    I'm sure its beautiful. It would be a tribute to your friend for keeping it all these years and to her grandmother who made it.

  5. #5
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    I would contact a museum in London, England that deals with WW2 artifacts and ask if they are interested in the story and quilt for display. They could give you some information on how to proceed. It would be nice for everyone to hear the story of making it during the blitz and of your friends life. My mother was one of the children shipped out to Canada to escape the blitz. WW2 had profound effects on so many lives

  6. #6
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    or if finding an appropriate museum in London is too daunting, check out the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE--they have lots of special quilts--with history--and work to conserve them. There's also a new WWII Museum expanding in New Orleans, although that is basically all I know about it. it's such a rich piece of history that it deserves to be hung, viewed and conserved for everyone to see the civilian side of WWII

  7. #7
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    Such a beautiful story, rich in history. London museum is a lovely idea and may being comfort to those who can onlyh think of the horrors of being in the shelters.

    You've been giving such a treasure.

    We would love to see a picture of the quilt too, please don't forget to post one.

  8. #8
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    You obviously have a treasure. Please find a path of finishing it, displaying it and talking about it. The longer it is hidden away the farther it gets from relevance- it is relevant now. There are many museums that have World War II sections if that is the route you want to go. Otherwise, display it in your home.

  9. #9
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    So sorry to hear of your losing a dear friend. You have a piece of history in itself. What a nice treasure and I think you would like to finish the quilt and enjoy it. As JJBlaine suggested-finish the quilt and when you need a hug just wrap this quilt around your shoulders and know that your friend is hugging you and it will give you strength to move on for the day or chase the blues away when you are down.

  10. #10
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    If you decide that you would like to return the top to the UK here is a link to the Quilt Museum in the city of York in England -

    http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/

    Their email address is - [email protected]

  11. #11
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    --and be sure the history of this quilt is with it. If only you know it's story, that will be lost in time. What a treasure you have. Please find an appropriate museum for it's final destination.

  12. #12
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    My sympathy to you for the loss of such a good friend. Friends like that are hard to find. Anyway, you'be been given good ideas here for you to ponder. Please let us know which way you decide to go. I'm thinking that a museum would want it in as close to the original condition as possible, which would necessitate not finishing it. What do you think your friend would want? Would love to see a photo of it.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  13. #13
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    I'm with coopah, do not finish the quilt top. I would leave it exactly as is, and probably enjoy having it myself for a while, then donate it along with it's story to a museum that will cherish it and care for it properly. I have collected quilt tops that I have no plan to finish. A finished quilt in the hands of someone who is ignorant of it's value can end up on the garage floor with black motor oil on it, or muddy and in tatters outside in a dog house, while an unfinished top never will meet that end.

  14. #14
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    How very kind you are in taking proper care of your friend's treasure. I'm with the others and think this is a story to be told and a museum would be the best place for it... back in England would be ideal. The story needs to be told and England is the best place to tell it. It's so easy for historic items to be lost and this is certainly one. God bless you for taking the care, time and trouble to do the right thing.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by maryb119 View Post
    What about finishing the quilt and offering it to a museum in London? It was made during a time in their history. It would be shared with families who have been thru that time period.

    I'm sure its beautiful. It would be a tribute to your friend for keeping it all these years and to her grandmother who made it.

    The story of how it came to be is part of this historical quilt. I think a WW2 museum, here or in London, would love to have this quilt on loan to display with a card telling the story of the how the woman pieced it while sheltering in the Underground. That's the stuff of legend. When you finish it, you might make inquiries to museum curators here and abroad. You have become the keeper of a treasure; I understand that it's a heavy responsibility. You're to be commended for it.

  16. #16
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJBlaine View Post
    I am so sorry for your loss of a dear friend. I am very much of the opinion that storing a quilt is a waste, and just plain sad. I think, given it's history, I would be tempted to hang the finished top as a showpiece, or perhaps even offer to loan it to a quilt museum, but in the end I would quilt it and use it--not every day, but when I needed a pick-me-up. I think wrapping myself in a quilt like that would be like getting a hug from a dear friend who is no longer around to give one.
    I thought I was the only one who saw quilts as a hug you could leave behind for my loved ones. That is why I make them.
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results never change. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  17. #17
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    Make sure to make a detailed label with all that history!

  18. #18
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    If you want to loan/donate to a museum here in the UK, I would suggest you contact the following in this order

    The Imperial War Museum https://www.iwm.org.uk/
    The Museum of London https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/
    American Museum in Bath https://americanmuseum.org/

    The Imperial War Museum would be the best place as War in their primary focus.

    I work in the museum services here in the UK. If you want to send me a PM, I will be happy to help

    HettyB
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    Two Singer 201K's; Bernina Activa 220; Singer 128k Hand Crank; HQ Sweet 16; Singer 221k Featherweight

  19. #19
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    I'd love to see that treasure.

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