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Thread: Wow! What an assignment!

  1. #1
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    On Saturday I was quilting with my mother at a "pioneer settlement" as one of their demonstrations of the way we used to do things. (But we still do it that way!) A local dentist and his wife came along and asked us to finish three of her late mother's quilt tops they had brought with them. They are old! One was foundation pieced on newspaper and some of the newspaper is still attached. We found 1923 and 1925 dates on several of the pieces. I asked her if she really wanted the paper removed and have it quilted, but she insists she does. I'm open to any advice on finishing these quilts. She wants borders added to the other two to make them bed sized. I hand quilt, so that will be in keeping with the time period. Do you think the other two are '30 prints?

    Diamond shaped pieces, set on-point Trip Around the World style.
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    On-point squares scrappy Trip Around the World.
    Name:  Attachment-272749.jpe
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    Very old foundation pieced 1923-25 quilt top
    Name:  Attachment-272750.jpe
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    Paper is still attached on part of the back. My sister and I spent several hours realding some interesting tidbits from these. How can I remove them and still preserve them?
    Name:  Attachment-272751.jpe
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  2. #2
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Hmmm I don't know, the dentist might want to consult a quilt historian, these quilts might be more valuable if left in their current state. That is - if that's important to him. He may just want to have them quilted so they can use/display them as family treasures. (If it were me, I'd have them appraised!)

    I'd be reading those newspaper bits for hours! lol

  3. #3
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    I tried to talk the lady into checking with professionals to see what was the best way to preserve especially the oldest one, but she has her heart set on having them finished so she can put them on a bed or a quilt rack. I don't think the money value as an antique is as important to her as having something that belonged to her mother finished so she can enjoy it as a quilt.

  4. #4
    Super Member Crqltr's Avatar
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    I agree..I would bet a quilt museum would love to have these. A shame to tear all the paper out. They should talk to a expert first.

  5. #5
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    if the newspaper is removed, maybe you can save some of the pieces with the date and put them in sealed plastic. then put an envelope on the back for them. that would show some of the history.

  6. #6
    Power Poster dkabasketlady's Avatar
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    I still use newspaper as a foundation to make my scrappy quilts! I just tear it out and throw it away, but on this old quilt I'd definitely keep the pieces of newspaper and put them in a bag for safekeeping. What an undertaking and also an Honor to be able to do this for them. Also contact our own board member Eddie as he's finished some antique quilts before.

  7. #7
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    I totally agree on getting these appraised first. May be best to leave as it!

  8. #8
    Super Member valleyquiltermo's Avatar
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    You have advised them and they have their hearts set on getting them done, So do them and they will be happy.
    I'd just write up a disclaimer, saying advised them to have them appraised, but they just wanted you to quilt them, have them sign it and notarize it.

  9. #9
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crqltr
    I agree..I would bet a quilt museum would love to have these. A shame to tear all the paper out. They should talk to a expert first.
    Actually, and sadly, I disagree. Yes, the quilts would have more "value" if left as is. But not as much as we present day quilters would wish. There are many, many quilts like this, and even more in much better condition and style, in museums. In this case, intrinsic value is more important to the current owner and should be honored.

    Don't worry about saving the papers, they are likely on microfilm somewhere anyway, if the owner isn't interested. It will be difficult to remove them due to age, so the easiest way is to wet them -- with wet q-tips around the seams or with a very wet towel, blotting as you go and picking up any paper pulp that you can. If you're able to get whole pieces of paper you could just let them dry to the side and use them as others here have suggested.

    If you lay the tops out on a surface covered with something white/natural you will also be able to tell at this time if something is going to bleed. [Be sure to wash your backing fabric before using it!!] It looks like you probably won't have much bleeding as most of these fabrics appear to be fabrics from clothing, etc.

    I think it's precious she wants to remember the past by having these quilted and used. :-D It's kind of you to offer to help her do so.

    Jan in VA

  10. #10
    Senior Member 1000projects's Avatar
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    I am with Jan on this one. Just make a label with the name of the original quilter (and your name too) and it is all good. Quilts are meant to be used. These are lovely quilts but they are not priceless treasures like the jane stickel quilt or an original Baltimore album quilt.

  11. #11
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    i would leave the paper on that one and tell her to put that on the quilt rack!

  12. #12
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    Many of the prints do look a lot like 30's feedsack to me. The solids are very reminiscent of that era.

    Also, I'm not sure how they did it back then but now days, Trip quilts are diagonal set squares--not on point diamonds. I would think they would have done it the same way back then otherwise you have bias issues to deal with.

    As for your newspaper quandary; you would probably have to convince your customer to take it to an appraiser or do it yourself in order to convince them to change their mind.

    I am amazed at how well kept these appear to be if they are truly as old as the newspaper & fabric designs appear to indicate. Whoever stored them did it very well and must have kept them in a very clean and almost climate controlled environment--just amazing if they really are from that time period!

  13. #13
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I hope you are asking a pretty penny for all this work and the stress of working with old fabrics! Please don't do it for pennies though! LOL

  14. #14
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    You could scan or photograph (if your digital camera has a high enough megapixel rating) the pieces of newspaper on the back.

    Then to remove the paper, I would get some laminating sheets from the office supply store, cut them to fit over specific areas of the back, press them onto the paper, burnish it down with a bone paper folding tool (called a bone folder) or something similar, then peel the film away, taking the paper with it.

    Most of these laminating films are acid free and archival and will preserve the paper for a very long time.

  15. #15
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about the old newspapers, they are not that rare. Interesting to read though!!
    I think I would do simple cross hatching on both of them. The string quilt looks so much like an antique quilt I had - I think it is the checked fabric that is making me think that.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #16
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    The quilts were stored in a trunk. The oldest one was on the bottom and has some staining, maybe from being against the wood of the trunk. I don't plan to save all the newspaper pieces, but want to preserve the ones with dates and a few other interesting ones. (One has some hilarious quotes from kids test answers, like..."Pompay was destroyed by an eruption of saliva from the Vatican." My sister and I laughed 'til we cried over that one!) She wants the quilts made where she can use them as her mother would have wanted. So I will do my best. I think they have the means to make it worth my while, though I know I could never charge what it would be really worth per hour. But I'm excited about helping her preserve her mother's loving stitches. Thanks for your opinions.

  17. #17
    Super Member jpmaroni's Avatar
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    what a find!

  18. #18
    Senior Member abc123retired's Avatar
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    I admit I didn't know string quilts were that old. Guess I will have to rethink my feelings about them. Hope you get help if you are hand quilting those.

  19. #19
    Super Member valsma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltnNan
    if the newspaper is removed, maybe you can save some of the pieces with the date and put them in sealed plastic. then put an envelope on the back for them. that would show some of the history.
    I love your idea. Even if the quilts are finised as the lady wishes, she will have time peices of the history to look back at. For her the value may be in enjoying the quilts by using them for display or on a bed knowing she is viewing a peice of her mother daily.

    Now personally being a history buff, I wouldn't want to have them finished until I spoke with someone who is an expert in the preservation of textiles who can tell me how much importance they hold.

  20. #20
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    Most of the time, what we may think has a real value, really does not. Enjoy reading teh paper articles , then remove.
    I would remove the newspaper by spreading the quilt on a white sheet on the floor, spray with warm water a small area at a time and continue until all the paper is removed.
    I would then soak the quilt top in the tub with a mild soap, rinse in cold water, hang to dry or dry on delicate. Iron the seams well.

    The third quilt looks like all mens shirt fabrics. I do not see flour-
    sack fabric.

    The others appear to be fabric of that era. May or may not be floursack.

    Choose fabrics for finishing that correspond with what is already in the quilt. This is not the time to get fancy and overdo it.

    Likewise, keep the handquilting to the period. You will do fine. The couple put their trust in you to finish appropriately. BTW - did you do a contract? Just because he is a doctor does not mean everything will be hunky dorey. Take pictures for future reference.

  21. #21
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    I would buy one of those large gift boxes (Michaels?) that come out at Christmas that are kind of hard with a nice lid. I would then remove the paper pieces as carefully as possible and Modge Podge the whole box and lid with them. If you get a really big one, one of the quilts could go into it wrapped in acid free paper when it's done. Or you could do the box or a set of boxes for storage in your sewing room. I would keep the quilting simple on both the quilts because it will take a while to do them. Good Luck!

  22. #22
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan
    I would buy one of those large gift boxes (Michaels?) that come out at Christmas that are kind of hard with a nice lid. I would then remove the paper pieces as carefully as possible and Modge Podge the whole box and lid with them. If you get a really big one, one of the quilts could go into it wrapped in acid free paper when it's done. Or you could do the box or a set of boxes for storage in your sewing room. I would keep the quilting simple on both the quilts because it will take a while to do them. Good Luck!
    Thanks for those suggestions!

  23. #23
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Adding my 2 cents FWIW ==
    * ITA ... we all want those precious antiques to be worth a LOT, though often are not; being that you are connected to a pioneer settlement, it shouldn't be too hard for you to get an opinion as to whether there is any worth.

    * quote with disclaimer/waiver ... good idea to CYA that an appraisal was recommended and they refused, also re the removal/disposal of the newspapers. That can be easily dealt with by presenting them with a quote of what's to be done, how you will do, and the agreed upon fees, inclusions/exclusions so there's no argument later, with the disclaimer as part of it

    * wetting the newspapers may cause ink staining. The type of printing ink of that era came off on your hands. Some will remember reading the newspaper and getting ink all over their hands/arms or on their clothing. I have no idea as to whether with age it would have stabilized. Just beware ... you don't want to ruin it while in your trusting care.

  24. #24
    Power Poster blueangel's Avatar
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    I would get it appraised.

  25. #25
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    OK - Here is what I would do. The papers show time and place and provinence. I would just quickly divide quilt into sections and photocopy all the pieces on a grid.

    That allows authentication- shows history and what was happening in and around the area the quilt was made.

    Additionally, copied on buff paper after white photocopies
    could be framed hung on the wall above quilts on rack or in the rooms.

    That way you still preserve the 80-90 year history and the copies of the pieces used to make the quilts as well as the quilt itself, satisfying yourself and finding a creative way to lend interest about the quilt maker and for future generations.

    This isn't about museum quality quilts rather family history

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