Quilt Restoration

About three years ago, I snagged a vintage quilt in need of TLC for $10 on eBay, resolving to find a way to either have it repaired (ha!) or do it myself (never having picked up a sewing needle since that "C" in 8th grade home ec... double ha!). Well, now my sewing skills are (marginally) improved, and I have approximately two months off before work starts (three weeks of which will be in Morocco, of course), so I'm considering tackling this again.

Quilt Restoration 001

Although it was looking rough, it was a rare eBay find, combining the elements that I now know expert modern quilters like Denyse Schmidt try to incorporate into their work - a balance of randomness and uniformity. The randomness of color in this quilt struck me immediately, even back then, compared to the chintzy floral numbers that seem to flood the vintage quilt market. Whoever the original quilter was, and/or whomever repaired the quilt had an amazing gift for color. I think it could be restored to its capacity as a working quilt. Most of the pieces are relatively durable canvas. The quilt back and orange border are worn and will have to go, but I'm sure (especially now that there are so many more quilters' resources on the web and in blogland) I can figure out how to nurse it back to health.

Quilt Restoration 005

Here's a spot where the canvas is intact but the pinwheel itself needs repair. Can the pinwheels be removed and repaired individually? I think they'll come off the canvas in one piece, rather than in the individual diamonds.

Quilt Restoration 002

I love this particular set of squares. Also, this square is representative of the others that are in relatively good shape. Sturdy-ish canvas, with cotton pinwheels.

Quilt Restoration 003

This one and the photo that follow are the worst patches. Looks like these will need a few brand new squares, though some of the pinwheels (or whatever they are) on the torn pieces are themselves serviceable.

Quilt Restoration 004

I may sit on this for a while longer until I can go to Purl Patchwork and get some advice and replacement fabrics. Any of you quilters out there, if you can discern anything about the quilt, how to clean it *really* well, or what should be done with it from the photos, fire away - your expertise is much appreciated! Meanwhile I'll be scrounging for all the quilt restoration resources I can find, and dreaming of this winter huddled under our new-old-colorful beauty.

Posted by jess at July 28, 2006 12:26 PM | TrackBack

man, oh man. that quilt in its prime must have been a real beauty. hell, it's still purty today.

wish i could help you out there, jess. but alas, i have a sewing skills of a chicken. as in, the chicken has just a good a shot at sewing on a button right as i do. i'm here for moral support, if that's any use to you. "Go, Jess! You can do it!!! I believe in YOU!!!!"

Posted by: Sandra at July 28, 2006 1:14 PM

What a great find! I love the orange and blues. I wish I knew what to tell you about restoration but it's not my area of expertise.

Posted by: caro at July 28, 2006 1:36 PM

Quilt repair is possible, but can be time consuming. Matching the aging of the fabric can also be a problem. Sometimes, for some of the problems you detail, a repair of fine transparent net will be used to attach fragments to. I think this quilt will be for display only, right? Vacuum with a nylon stocking over end of tool. I love it too. Robert Horton has a book out that talks about design and the 'randomness' of scrap quilt design, _Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do_ here it is at Amazon.

Posted by: Margot at July 28, 2006 2:24 PM

You've got your work cut out for you - but won't it be awesome when you are done!

Posted by: stephanie at July 28, 2006 3:35 PM has some 1930s style prints that look like they can be matched in style to what you already have (if that is the era when this quilt was made). My mother who has been quilting for years says that any cold water wash like Woolite in the sink or tub should work. Just don't agitate it or wring it out, just scrunch it up against the side of the tub. Good find.

Posted by: Erica at July 28, 2006 5:19 PM

It sounds as if you want to USE this quilt, rather than just display it. I teach quilting (I knit, but don't teach that) (and have lived through the dreaded arbay thang too) and have helped several people restore old quilts, both for display and for use. Do email me for some ideas and procedures. If you were in SoCal I'd invite you to class! And yes, the quilt is 20's or 30's, and the fabrics from Keepsake will match.

Posted by: Marie at July 28, 2006 7:15 PM

I hate sewing, but want to try to get over my phobia. I have a gorgeous quilt that my grandmother made me about 15 years ago that needs repair. I'm eager to hear about what you learn.

Posted by: Lisa at July 28, 2006 10:38 PM

Love the colors and modern feel of that quilt-a real find. Sounds like it will be a fun and challenging project.

Posted by: brooke at July 28, 2006 10:49 PM

i love, lovelovelove old quilts like this. we have a mountain of them at the cottage that have been picked up at yard sales and auctions that my mother has nursed back to health. they are so lovely and soft, the fabric wearing thin with years of comforting.
i know that for the parts of the pinwheels that are coming off, my mother tended to just use a fine fusible web to iron them back on to the backing, but i don't know the details.
what a find!

Posted by: karen at July 28, 2006 11:55 PM

hi again

I have been quilting since I was a yong girl

good luck
and I may be able to help

Posted by: alanson-rachel at July 29, 2006 1:40 PM

This may add in more work, but......

An idea that has worked for me in the past is buying a flat sheet in a color that I adore to make a duvet cover out of the find. The sheet, which is usually a bit larger than the quilt, can be trimmed to size and you can work with the scraps to add into the pinwheels.

Then, sew up side one , two and three, add some buttons and button holes ( ribbons or snaps if button holes seem scary) up the fourth edges and Voila!! A duvet know, if you like that kind of thing.

Posted by: Standing at August 6, 2006 3:10 PM
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