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Thread: What do I do with antique quilt Tops?

  1. #1
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    What do I do with antique quilt Tops?

    I lost my mom 10 y ears ago, and recently unpacked a storage unit of her belongings, and discovered some quilts I didn't know she had
    ...
    1. A quilt top that was made by my grandma in 1932 or 33 - mom's note said it was made before she was 1yo (she was born in '32).

    2. My great grandma started a sunbonnet sue quilt for mom when she was about 4 (1936) - there are probably 12 complete 16/18" blocks, and six "blank" blocks. The quilt blocks are obviously heavy flour sack material.

    3. I found three additional quilts from the early 30s (judging by the fabrics in comparison to the aforementioned two quilt tops)

    What do I do with the quilt top? Should I get backing/batting and let a professional LA quilt it for me, and keep it? It's pieced by hand, and has some brown spots here/there (rust spots, I think they're called)? Or, should I have a quilt appraiser look at it first?

    The Sunbonnet Sue - I have the pattern pieces. Should I create my own appliques and finish the remaining blocks, and assemble the quilt - or? (Open to ideas!)

    The three other quilts ... They still smell like mom's house. I love them for the sentimental value. Should I have them appraised and insured in the event of an accident? In 2015, a huge tree crashed through the middle of my home, nearly totaling the house, causing me to lose pretty much everything I owned. I would've lost these quilts if they hadn't been in a storage unit with mom's other things.

    Thank you in advance. I'm new to quilting - started my first quilt in March and finished last night, so I want to make sure I do due diligence preserving these old beauties for my daughter (My boys will likely not care about them).

    nina
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 05-10-2018 at 02:27 AM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps

  2. #2
    Super Member tesspug's Avatar
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    I have a top that was made by my grandmother in the 30's. I'm going to have it quilted by my long armer. I am going to use muslin for the back and 100% cotton batting to keep things more authentic. After it's quilted I will see to the stains. As far as the Sunbonnet Sue's I would frame them and hang them together. I'd be worried sick trying to sew that old fabric myself.
    I promise not to buy any more fabric until I see something I really like. Or it's on sale. Or I think it might match something.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I wouldn't personally bother with an appraiser. Unless the quilts have some sort of historical significance, the chance of them being "valuable" is small. The real value is in the connection those quilts have to your family. Since you're a new quilter, why not hang onto everything for a while? As your skills progress, you may find that you want to finish the pieces yourself, whether by hand or machine. At any rate you will learn more about the craft of quilting and will be better equipped to decide how to handle these heirlooms.

  4. #4
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    I would suggest not having them machine quilted. You should stick with the way it would have been in the 30's which is to have it hand quilted. I don't know if you have Amish out your way but they do a great job. I would use the muslin which they would have used back then. Also the quilting should be what was in then too. Of course, I am only suggesting this. Have fun with them. Make sure to have them labeled accordingly.

  5. #5
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    What you have found is a treasure from your mother to you. Value is most likely in the sentiment. I'm guessing, because of the age, they are, at best, double bed size. So, (1) pick the one or two you like the best and pay to have a LA quilt them for you. (cost would be $100 - 200) depending on how it's quilted --i.e. all-over design or free form. Enjoy them. Though i agree hand quilting would be wonderful, I question the costs. Remember, if your mother was making that quilt today, she certainly would have machine quilted it if she'd known how. These tops would have been made and finished to be used.

    Pick one the "play with". Either try FMQ or hand quilting if you'd like. If you put them away, there is always that chance they'll get lost or forgotten. What a shame that would be.

    Enjoy the connection to your mother and her labors of love for her family. That's the treasure.

  6. #6
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    Those quilts deserve to be quilted and enjoyed. If you want to hand quilt them, go for it. If you don't want to hand quilt them, sending them to a LA is a great plan, or learn to machine quilt them yourself. The important thing is to finish and enjoy them rather than letting them go to waste in storage. Congratulations on your wonderful treasures.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    I wouldn't personally bother with an appraiser. Unless the quilts have some sort of historical significance, the chance of them being "valuable" is small. The real value is in the connection those quilts have to your family. Since you're a new quilter, why not hang onto everything for a while? As your skills progress, you may find that you want to finish the pieces yourself, whether by hand or machine. At any rate you will learn more about the craft of quilting and will be better equipped to decide how to handle these heirlooms.
    I second this.

  8. #8
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragamuffin View Post
    I would suggest not having them machine quilted. You should stick with the way it would have been in the 30's which is to have it hand quilted. I don't know if you have Amish out your way but they do a great job. I would use the muslin which they would have used back then. Also the quilting should be what was in then too. Of course, I am only suggesting this. Have fun with them. Make sure to have them labeled accordingly.
    I agree with this.

  9. #9
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    I agree with Dunster, hang onto them for a while. If an idea comes up to use at a later date, you can decide then. I "inherited" a few UFO's from a friend's mom. I finished three of them for her and her sister and the rest I didn't. Older fabrics decay and they just couldn't hold up to modern usage and washing in a machine. An appraisal isn't necessary.

  10. #10
    Super Member luvstoquilt's Avatar
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    I agree with Dunster!
    "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"....E. Roosevelt

    Sharon
    Yorkville, IL

  11. #11
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    Thank you all for your sage advice! TBH, I am using one of the 30s quilt on my bed... ;o) I just love a nice quilt.
    I think the idea of hand quilting the top is superb - and I'll wait until I understand more about quilting before I tackle such a project. LA would be a fast remedy, but I think continuing the handwork tradition would be more fulfilling. Of course, when it comes time to do that - I may be regretting it... hahhaa

    The Sunbonnet Sue pieces - I'd considered having them framed, I thought that would be really nice. HOwever, as I really thought more, framing is a considerable expense, and when I'm gone - will my kids want to deal with a bunch of framed squares? I think, after reading, assembling them and producing a finished quilt would be something I could gift to my daughter, and give her warm memories of her grandma and mom...

    Thank you all for your wonderful insight and advice!

  12. #12
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I like your final idea. Finish all the tops when you can and just use them or display them. You are so lucky to have these.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  13. #13
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I think you are right to finish the Sunbonnet Sue and give to your daughter now. Wait on the top--once you are a more experienced quilters you will either decide to hand or machine quilt it yourself or send to a LA. In meantime, I'd suggest you wrap it in an acid free tissue and box and occasionally refold it. for those quilts that you have and are using (and the Sunbonnet Sue once finished), I suggest you wash them in Restoration--think you will be amazed at how well the clean up and how bright the colors become. (same with the other top once quilted). I'd skip the appraisal--I have 3 quilts my g-ma did by hand in the 30's and are in excellent condition and great provenance--and the value is about $200 each (feedsack on two)--your home insurance will cover them.

  14. #14
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    You could make small wallhangings out of the Sunbonnet Sue's. My mother (age 93) about 20 years ago made several little wallhangings, from appliqued butterfly blocks made by my grandmother. She had enough to give to us daughters and to several cousins. Members of the younger generation who don't want to haul around big objects often will treasure a small item made by an ancestor.

  15. #15
    Moderator Up North's Avatar
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    Back in that day quilts were either hand quilted or tied most of the old ones I have from that era are tied was an easy solution really. I would tie closer than they did but most are done with yarn or embroidery thread from what I can tell.
    Good luck in what you decide to do.

  16. #16
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    I'm somewhat a "purist" in that my opinion is that quilts should be finished in the fashion of their creation. So, that being said, those would have been either tied or hand quilted. A muslin back would have been the backing of choice. Find a hand quilter--Amish or a church group may be of help. Perhaps put the Sues aside for a bit until you know for sure what you want to do with those. If your daughter has a little girl, those could become a keepsake for that child. (So she probably will have all boys!) Or simply making them into a crib size quilt that can be a wall hanging to see on a daily basis and enjoyed by you. Sometimes we put things aside for the next generation but they don't value things the way we would hope. Enjoy these things yourself since you remember the women who put them together and into the box for you to find.

  17. #17
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    I'm also a bit of a purist. I would hand quilt them or have someone else do it but not machine quilting. It gives a completely different look to the finished quilt.
    I'm so glad you have those treasures!

  18. #18
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    I would also hand quilt them.

  19. #19
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    I live in the PAC NW. Someone said "No Sunshine? Fugettaboutit! I'm staying East!" Maybe I can talk my daughter into quilting it with me... She doesn't sew, but what a fun opportunity for memories! I was a baker for 10 years before going into the tech industry, my hands are shot, so I'll probably finish hand quilting it a week before I die. hehehe I like the idea of hand quilting Sue more and more.

    Yes, the finished top is for a full size bed - at least it sure looks "full size".
    Thank you for the heads up about "Restoration".

    My next task is to figure out what to do with the bazillion doilies I have... I have an antique iron bed I'm putting in my daughter's old bedroom, I should use the doilies there. It will also be a wonderful home for Sunbonnet Sue! I have to buy a full-size mattress for that bed frame!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 07-12-2018 at 03:26 AM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps

  20. #20
    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    I found a quilt top my grandmother made circa 1930's. My daughter found a lady to finish it and she did some repairs that needed to be done and finished and hand quilted it. (And she only charged $60). When she was done you would never know it wasn't all done at the same time. She replaced a few pieces and backed it with muslin. I had it appraised and was surprised to find out it appraised for between $400 and $500. So it probably is worth having yours appraised if you can finish them yourself where they look original or find someone else to do it.
    Margaret

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  21. #21
    Super Member Teen's Avatar
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    Such a wonderful discovery. I would have been in tears if I stumbled upon these. I'm in agreement with Dunster. Give yourself time to develop your skill and stay tuned-in to the board for inspiration. You'll have an "ah ha" moment soon enough. Happy for you and your treasures.
    Quilting therapy for the therapist...
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