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Thread: What to do with vintage quilt tops?

  1. #1
    Member mwhite's Avatar
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    What to do with vintage quilt tops?

    I got a treasure of vintage sewing supplies given to me a couple days ago. Since I love reading the advice on this board I thought I would ask what you would do. There are several quilt tops in the boxes much to my delight! This stuff was headed to the trash and if it was lucky a yard sale when my daughter piped up and said my Mom will love to have that and she will take good care of it. I feel like Christmas came!! Most of the fabric is pretty musty and some is stained, probably watermarks. I did wash one quilt last night, a beautiful grandmothers flower garden, all hand quilted from 1930 or so. It came out wonderful. There are a couple more of the same type tops and a wedding ring top. Lots of blocks either hand or machine pieced. And lots of scraps, some of those might even be quilt pieces, I have to open the bags on the porch, kinda smelly.
    So my question is what would you do with the tops? The quilting is beautiful! They are in great shape, and I would love to use them, is it wrong to machine quilt them. I have arthritis so hand quilting would be out for me. Any ideas??
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  2. #2
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    I have RA so I know how you feel. I have old tops my Mother made by hand that I have machine quilted and they came out fine. I have heard of quilting clubs who you can hire to hand quilt for you. If you want to keep it true to the hand quilting you might check them out.

  3. #3
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
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    I think machine quilting would be fine. At least the quilts would be finished and used. The quilts are beautiful! What a nice daughter you have. Enjoy!

  4. #4
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Go ahead and machine quilt. Document their history and add a label on the back. It is wonderful you are making sure these quilts are treted well.
    Anna Quilts

  5. #5
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    I have machine quilted some tops I got, and I love how they came out. Some people say tops that were never quilted should be left that way, but think of those ladies now gone on, who look down and see their lovely quilt tops being made into quilts to be enjoyed. If I leave tops behind, I hope someone finishes them into quilts.

  6. #6
    Super Member Annie68's Avatar
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    Wow, lucky you, I love your old tops and a real fan of antique quilts. I would also go ahead and machine quilt them. Machine quilting has been around for a very, very long time, though not as often done as today.

  7. #7
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I have some myself but have been afraid of recking them!

  8. #8
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    The only reason I can think of to not finish them if they were some significant historical interest or rare. These appear to be neither so go for it. They look in great shape. I love hand quilting so may save the best one for that or find a group that would do it. That would be very appropriate for the way it may of originally be finished at a quilting bee. If you don't you can still use the tops as decoration draped on a quilt stand or as a bed sham maybe.

    Lucky you. Have fun discovering everything that you have received.
    Lisa

  9. #9
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I have to agree that I love hand quilting and somehow I can't get used to seeing machine quilting on a vintage top, except for a very utilitarian quilt. A GFG deserves fine hand quilting IMHO. I have finished many vintage tops by hand quilting, both for myself and for customers.


    I hope after I am gone someone will finish my tops!! Otherwise I might have to come back and be the "Quilting Ghost"!!

  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    For a really nice vintage top that has been hand pieced, I would look for a good handquilter and pay to have it handquilted. (You do have to check on the quality of the quilting before hiring someone; have heard horror stories of "hand quilters" who used doubled thread, made large stitches, and did not know enough to hide the knots.) From what I can see of the grandmother's flower garden top, it would fall into this category for me.

    Vintage tops that are not all that nice and/or that have been machine pieced, I would definitely machine quilt myself.

    I think you have to make the decision on a top-by-top basis.

  11. #11
    Super Member huntannette's Avatar
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    wow great find...lucky you...no matter what you do, thy are treasures

  12. #12
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    Your daughter hit the jackpot, such nice tops.

  13. #13
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    I often buy vintage tops for machine quilting. I don't think it does any disservice to the quilt or the original piecer to quilt them by machine. We have beautiful examples of historic quilts that were machine quilted right around the time that the treadle sewing machine became practical and affordable for the home in the late 1800's.

    I recently bought my second Grandmother's Flower Garden and it's beautiful like yours, only with a solid jadeite green where yours is white.

    It's not very wide, so I'm going to applique three edges to a repro print border to enlarge it to queen size, then quilt it the way I did the first one, with feathery flowers and tufts in the flowers and a leafy vine in the green background.

    Here's the first one I did - I misjudged the binding and used a print that was too strong for the majority of fabrics in the quilt. I should have used something a little more nondescript and subdued. I appliqued the triangular pieces of repro solids along the long edges to make it easier to bind and more practical to use. The ends were very frayed and I ended up trimming them straight, which was okay - but on this next one, the binding will probably follow the "v" shapes of the octagons.
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  14. #14
    Super Member needles3thread's Avatar
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    The only way I could be happier is if ' I' had found them. Happy for you. Please show more pictures of them.

  15. #15
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    In my family, the tops made by my grandmothers by hand, were hand tied. On a frame hanging on chair backs. They were wonderful, soft, comfy and lasted for years and years. I still have mine, past repair, but there are still some in my family that are still whole. I was surprised when I started quilting 2 years ago, how the majority are now machine quilted. They don't seem to be nearly so cuddly!

  16. #16
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    Wow--those quilts are fabulous! My favorite pattern. I'm so glad that the people who have them so appreciate them. Thanks for pictures.

  17. #17
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    I would say do what ever you want to - they were headed to the TRASH. If it were me I would probably machine quilt them as I couldn't afford to have them hand quilted. They will last much longer being quilted than just as a top.

  18. #18
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    Picture no 1 shows some pretty even stitching to me. Looks to be maybe pretty good sewing. I have a friend who has a GFG and I would love to get my hands on it. But to no avail. It is a time consuming job too. I'm pretty old to do something like that. If I wanted to machine quilt it I would.

  19. #19
    Member mwhite's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone. I have two of these treasures washed now and they are even prettier! I will post some more pictures when I unpack the rest of the tops. I found a bunch of pattern pieces and her designs too. Some are made out of old newspapers. I got a kick out of the old newspapers, some as old as 1917! This woman was a wonderful quilter. The stitching is so even and even after washing there was no loose places! I bet the quilts that she made were so beautiful. The first picture of the GFG quilt the blocks are about 1 inch!!! That is a lot of blocks. I haven't measured it yet but I think it is a double size. I do feel like she is watching me enjoy these. : )

  20. #20
    Member mwhite's Avatar
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    I love the green. I also really love the colored border.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Annaquilts View Post
    Go ahead and machine quilt. Document their history and add a label on the back. It is wonderful you are making sure these quilts are treted well.
    DITTO...once you do anything to them they are no longer considered "vintage", but if they are usable, and have no family heirloom history, then just quilt and enjoy!

    Historians say NOT to do this if there is any family history, as once you add a single stitch you are killing the vintage/history. Fabrics etc are best documented in the raw, not quilted. But since these have no family history to you, then do as you please. Just please add the label!

  22. #22
    Super Member QandE2010's Avatar
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    Of course you can machine quilt them. There are no quilt police on this board. (I made them resign when I joined the board) LOL
    Alma
    Nami to 6

  23. #23
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    In our Alabama there are "Senior Citizen" groups that meet each week. They take in quilt tops and hand quilt them for you for a price. This helps them to meet expenses for the hall that they meet in. They have several ladies that sit around a quilting frame and hand quilt. I also have arthritis.

    Quote Originally Posted by crafty pat View Post
    I have RA so I know how you feel. I have old tops my Mother made by hand that I have machine quilted and they came out fine. I have heard of quilting clubs who you can hire to hand quilt for you. If you want to keep it true to the hand quilting you might check them out.

  24. #24
    Super Member
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    WOW You are one lucky lady. Machine quilt them. Enjoy them

  25. #25
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    My vote is for hand quilting....it just seems like the right thing to do.
    Lalalalala

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