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Thread: Is there any hope for this top?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    My great-grandmother hand-pieced this top almost 50 years ago. It was never finished and never treasured; being used as a paint drop cloth and ironing board cover. At least one of the non-yellow fabrics has rotted away. My mom wants me to finish it for her. It has turned into a monster! I don't know what to do with it. If I tear it apart and start over, it will be left for MY great granddaughter to finish. I've looked at embellishing it with beads, buttons, applique, etc. It does not help that the top does not sing to me - it is rather bland. It is approximately 48" x 75" and I don't think it would stand up to being used (maybe should be a BIG wallhanging).

    How can I salvage this piece of history? Thanks in advance to this super group of quilters!

    Great Grandmothers top of my school clothes
    Name:  Attachment-29681.jpe
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    Back side of top, paint spots peeking through
    Name:  Attachment-29682.jpe
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    Tucks like this appear throughout top
    Name:  Attachment-29683.jpe
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  2. #2
    Senior Member renee765's Avatar
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    I think you hit on the answer yourself when you said maybe it should be a wall hanging. How about taking good sections of it and have those sections framed? You might be able to do an arrangement of different sized frames, or three of the same size, or something artistic like that. (I'm not artistic, so can't suggest much!) That way you have preserved the original and made it a part of a home, just not as a traditional quilt.

  3. #3
    Super Member Toto's Mom's Avatar
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    Well, you might salvage the good parts for throw pillows. Some squares, some hearts, and rounds. You can always cover some of the paint spots with small lace rosettes, and maybe use ribbon to cover small holes. I wouldn't worry about imperfections like small tucks. They will give your things "character".
    I have some that have been made from the salvaged parts of old quilts, and they work well with my vintage quilts, and bears.
    Breaks my heart to see all that labor of love not treated with the respect it deserved.
    Kudos to you for rescuing a part of your heritage.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mosquitosewgirl's Avatar
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    I would try Googling "quilt museums". Depending on where you live there might be one near you. They have experts on antique quilts such as this one and would be able give you good advice. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Bobbinwinder's Avatar
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    Your greatgrandmother was quite careful to compose her blocks with stripes turned to please the eye...I can certainly forgive a tuck or two, can't you? Taking it apart is not going to strengthen it...I'm in agreement with you that it will not hold up for actual use, but it should be finished and occasionally displayed to be enjoyed and always cherished. Whatever you do to preserve it will be far better than leaving it in its present state. I'd consider using lightweight fusible stabilizer on the backside of the weak fabs... what is your plan for quilting? Consider the paint as beauty marks...that's a kind term for AGE SPOTS...the top has survived...scars, warts, neglect, and abuse...all of those are just as much a part of it now as the original work your ggm did...celebrate them and LOVE that top pretty...you can do it...you just have to want to! Thanks for sharing the photo and good luck!

  6. #6
    Power Poster sewnsewer2's Avatar
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    I agree with the wall hanging. You could also put it in a glass frame.

  7. #7
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    Awesome treasure!

  8. #8
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    If there are others who would also treasure this piece, it might lend itself to being cut into maybe 4 smaller tops for sharing and more appropriate for hanging?? Consider the paint spots part of the quilt's story. It has one to tell! I, too, quilted a very old top but was told it no longer was an antique since the quilting was new. Perhaps it needs to be folded and displayed that way but, like you, I felt the aging fabrics needed some support and am pleased that I did quilt it. I feel safer handling the aging fabrics. You have a personal treasure since it was pieced from your clothes so you should do whatever it takes to really enjoy the quilt and your great-grandmother's efforts. You will reconnect with your g-gma as you, too, put stitches into it--and those tucks will disappear. Only you will recognize each fabric so enjoy it. That's what she hoped you would do.

  9. #9
    Super Member Elisabrat's Avatar
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    This is not bland at all! Its very appealing. If mom wants it finished I would say finish it but tell her its not good for daily use just lay it over a quilt rack in your room or on your wall to enjoy. If she wants it for daily use it was her grandmothers quilt right? So its hers to decide. If she doesnt want it cut up you need to respect that. I agree, fusible on the underside might help make the entire quilt stronger, less flexible but stronger. Its not perfect you can patch a piece or two over the top of the shredded ones, ripping seams seems like danger zone to me once you start.. you could be starting all over and then its not your grandmothers quilt is it? Good luck and enjoy it. I think its a pretty one.

  10. #10
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    I would finish it the way it is, maybe a border and then batting and backing and saved as a special keepsake...good work on the hand piecing.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by renee765
    How about taking good sections of it and have those sections framed?
    Thank you for the suggestion to frame part of it. I could not bear to toss away anything that had to be removed. Too sentimental, I guess.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toto's Mom
    You can always cover some of the paint spots with small lace rosettes, and maybe use ribbon to cover small holes. I wouldn't worry about imperfections like small tucks. They will give your things "character".
    I have some that have been made from the salvaged parts of old quilts, and they work well with my vintage quilts, and bears.
    Breaks my heart to see all that labor of love not treated with the respect it deserved.
    Kudos to you for rescuing a part of your heritage.
    Oh, I like this idea, too........lace and ribbon. It is important that my restoration standards are high as I plan to inherit this from Mom. (tucks aside, that is)

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mosquitosewgirl
    I would try Googling "quilt museums". Depending on where you live there might be one near you. They have experts on antique quilts such as this one and would be able give you good advice. Good luck.
    I did exactly as you suggested and it looks like the closest one to me is in Paducah, Ky - more than 12 hours away. But it does get me thinking in these terms and have more confidence which questions to ask.

    Thank you so much for your insight!

  14. #14
    Super Member nwm50's Avatar
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    Im glad that i have 2 quilts that my grandmother did before i was born, i will always treasure it. So I'm hoping that you can fix this, sorry thqat i don;t have a clue on how to do it but i loved this pattern that they used. Good luck

  15. #15
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbinwinder
    Your greatgrandmother was quite careful to compose her blocks with stripes turned to please the eye...I can certainly forgive a tuck or two, can't you? Taking it apart is not going to strengthen it...I'm in agreement with you that it will not hold up for actual use, but it should be finished and occasionally displayed to be enjoyed and always cherished. Whatever you do to preserve it will be far better than leaving it in its present state. I'd consider using lightweight fusible stabilizer on the backside of the weak fabs... what is your plan for quilting? Consider the paint as beauty marks...that's a kind term for AGE SPOTS...the top has survived...scars, warts, neglect, and abuse...all of those are just as much a part of it now as the original work your ggm did...celebrate them and LOVE that top pretty...you can do it...you just have to want to! Thanks for sharing the photo and good luck!
    Thank you so much for pointing out the stripes direction - sadly, I had not picked up on that. I didn't dare take it apart - it is so fragile as it is that I am afraid to even wash it. I forgot that I had considered using stabilizer - I believe that is a must! Should I cut the stabilizer to fit the pieces, avoiding covering the seams - or should I cut a larger piece to cover the block? It would seem that covering the seams would strengthen it. Are there flaws in my logic?

    Quilting? Had thought about cross hatching on my machine (something I can do with decent success), and/or maybe handquilting a motif in the center of the stars.

    Thank you so much for painting a different picture in my eyes - the story this quilt has to tell after all these many years. There has to be a way to include that on the label when I finish it.

    Thanks for EVERYTHING!!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewnsewer2
    I agree with the wall hanging. You could also put it in a glass frame.
    I have surfed and found that there are so many different kinds of frames, shadow boxes, etc to keep treasures in. Trouble is, it has me thinking of other projects as well!

    Does the list ever get shorter? (never for me - I'm just delusional enough to think I am getting a handle on it, then it moves!)

    hugs.........

  17. #17
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marsye
    Awesome treasure!
    Thank you! I will post a photo when I finish it - sooner rather than later.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illinois
    If there are others who would also treasure this piece, it might lend itself to being cut into maybe 4 smaller tops for sharing and more appropriate for hanging?? Consider the paint spots part of the quilt's story. It has one to tell! I, too, quilted a very old top but was told it no longer was an antique since the quilting was new. Perhaps it needs to be folded and displayed that way but, like you, I felt the aging fabrics needed some support and am pleased that I did quilt it. I feel safer handling the aging fabrics. You have a personal treasure since it was pieced from your clothes so you should do whatever it takes to really enjoy the quilt and your great-grandmother's efforts. You will reconnect with your g-gma as you, too, put stitches into it--and those tucks will disappear. Only you will recognize each fabric so enjoy it. That's what she hoped you would do.
    Thank you for a great suggestion to share this quilt. I can hardly bear the thought of cutting away the rotted pieces. I hope the quality of my work survives so that MY gd (now 3-1/2) receives it. And you are right, the story needs to travel with it.

    Thanks for such a sweet observation.

  19. #19
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    I gasped when you suggested machine stitching across this! I think I'm seeing that the top was put together with hand stiches so my thinking is that you need to follow suit with hand quilting. Also, hand quilting was characteristic of the time the quilt was assembled. Do be careful though as some of the fabrics may be prone to being torn with the "stress" of the up and down motion of the needle. This is one place that larger stitches may be in order, reducing that stress on the fabrics--more supportive than decorative but still adding that extra dimension with the quilting design. Liked the idea of a motif inside the white spaces!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elisabrat
    This is not bland at all! Its very appealing. If mom wants it finished I would say finish it but tell her its not good for daily use just lay it over a quilt rack in your room or on your wall to enjoy. If she wants it for daily use it was her grandmothers quilt right? So its hers to decide. If she doesnt want it cut up you need to respect that. I agree, fusible on the underside might help make the entire quilt stronger, less flexible but stronger. Its not perfect you can patch a piece or two over the top of the shredded ones, ripping seams seems like danger zone to me once you start.. you could be starting all over and then its not your grandmothers quilt is it? Good luck and enjoy it. I think its a pretty one.
    Thanks Elisabrat for pointing out that it is Moms to do with as she pleases. She uses the quilts I have made her in the past - but I will have to made her understand that this is a very special situation and ggm's quilt won't "play" like the others.

    Yes, stabilizer! I think I will reposition those few blocks that make the top uneven and square it up. That will keep with the spirit of ggm's quilt; something I REALLY want to do.

    Thank you for leading me to see it through YOUR eyes.

  21. #21
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i saw an episode of Simply Quilts several years ago of which the subject was quilt restoration and preservation. the expert said that when they're fixing up a quilt that's in the sort of condition you describe, they cover the weak spots with very fine, very sheer netting. it's cut and applied so that the stitches holding it on will disappear into the overall design.

    maybe you could do the same. to make it easy, cover the whole thing with one big piece of netting. add handquilting to hold it in place.

    just a thought.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaR
    I would finish it the way it is, maybe a border and then batting and backing and saved as a special keepsake...good work on the hand piecing.
    Thanks Linda! My mom sewed, never quilted. I sewed then began quilting because of a good friend almost 30 years ago. How I would have loved to watch GGM hand piece these blocks!

    Border? I haven't even thought about that - but need to!

    :D

  23. #23
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illinois
    I gasped when you suggested machine stitching across this! I think I'm seeing that the top was put together with hand stiches so my thinking is that you need to follow suit with hand quilting. Also, hand quilting was characteristic of the time the quilt was assembled. Do be careful though as some of the fabrics may be prone to being torn with the "stress" of the up and down motion of the needle. This is one place that larger stitches may be in order, reducing that stress on the fabrics--more supportive than decorative but still adding that extra dimension with the quilting design. Liked the idea of a motif inside the white spaces!
    You gasped and now I am gasping! It NEVER occurred to me to handquilt this top. The timing is great as I have my next handquilting project hanging on the wall, waiting for me to get it sandwiched.

    You are right - hand pieced deserves hand quilted!

    (Now just you look at the work you created for me! NR!)

  24. #24
    Senior Member Leann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatriceJ
    i saw an episode of Simply Quilts several years ago of which the subject was quilt restoration and preservation. the expert said that when they're fixing up a quilt that's in the sort of condition you describe, they cover the weak spots with very fine, very sheer netting. it's cut and applied so that the stitches holding it on will disappear into the overall design.

    maybe you could do the same. to make it easy, cover the whole thing with one big piece of netting. add handquilting to hold it in place.

    just a thought.
    Thanks for passing this along. I will definitely dig deeper into this.



    :thumbup:

  25. #25
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewnsewer2
    I agree with the wall hanging. You could also put it in a glass frame.
    I agree

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