Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Quilt Restoration & Repair - A Long and Crazy Journey with Carrie


Part 1 - How the quilts came to me, or "What was I thinking?"

Well, in spite of my good intentions, a year has flown by since my last post.  It seems that last year at this time we were heading off to Market and Diane's American Summer Quilt was going to be debuted.  Now, we are heading off to Market in about a month and Diane's American Crossroads quilt will be debuted.  My Americana II line will be arriving soon, but we got the shop kit last week, so she is working like crazy to finish it, so that it can be quilted and bound before Market.  Easy, huh?

Anyway, what inspired me to start up with my blog again is a project that I have been working on.   It started about a year ago - ok, maybe a little bit longer than a year - when a nice couple called to see about getting some antique quilts restored and completed.  My obsession with  antique quilts would not let me pass up the opportunity to at least look at the quilts, so they brought them in.

When I looked at them, I was kind of disappointed, there were five of them, two tied quilts and three tops.  Only two were really worth working on.  It always makes me feel bad to tell people that their precious family quilts aren't really worth anything, but I am a realist, and I collect antique quilts (mostly tops), so I am well aware of the market value of these quilts. There was a time, not all that long ago, when antique quilts were treasured and coveted, but since everyone and their mother has become more internet savvy, antique quilts have been falling out of attics and barns and landing on eBay.  It's the old story of supply and demand, and the supply is up.  Quilts from the Quilt Revival period, from around 1920-1940, are a glut on the market.  Its really sad to see some of these heirloom quilts sell on eBay for next to nothing.  I always tell people to put a label on them and keep them in the family.

In spite of my suggestion to the contrary, my customers decided that they really wanted to have these quilts repaired and/or completed.  I reluctantly agreed to give them an estimate.  I was sure that once I put a price on the job, they would change their minds.

My estimates were very honest, and ridiculously high, considering the condition of the quilts.  To my surprise (and, yes, dismay), they asked me to go ahead with the project.  Go figure.  I took pictures for my quotes, and you can see them below, with the names that I have given them, and a short description.  I thought that you might find it interesting, or just plain funny, to follow along as I work on these quilts - and sharing with you might help keep me on track!

So without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:


 
 Improved Nine-Patch Tied Quilt - Circa 1940 
Machine pieced and machine appliqued to border.
Condition – fair/poor


Nine-Patch on Point Top - Circa 1900
Variety of Indigo prints set with a single shirting  print,  hand pieced blocks set by machine. 
Condition – good, but bias edges are a problem.
Shirting blocks in one area are bleached (?) and need to be replaced.
Double Nine-Patch Sashed Quilt Top - Circa 1890
Hand pieced - some stains, holes in fabric, opened seams, shattered fabrics
Condition – Fair/poor
  
Irish Chain Quilt Top - Circa 1930
Hand and machine pieced
Condition – good


 
Squares and Shoo-Fly Tied Strip Quilt - Circa 1950
Machine pieced
Condition – poor


So, there you go - Five quilts &  tops in a wide variety of conditions.  I don't usually do quilt repairs myself, since I don't really have the time, and usually they can be easily handled by one of our talented quilters, but these quilts had some special issues, and nobody else wanted to do them.  

In case you wondered - I have not just been procrastinating for over a year.  The customer wanted the quilts  washed, so I started there.  Although they weren't horribly dirty, it seemed like a good idea.  I did take the two tied quilts apart first and got rid of the batting, which was mostly clumped up and yucky.  I was able to salvage one of the backs, or at least part of it, to possibly use for repairing the top.  The other back was in shreds, and I had to get rid of it.

Now the fun begins!  Stay tuned for the next installment.