Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Peaches and Cream

This battered beauty is between fifty and seventy years old, is completely hand pieced and quilted with very fine, tiny stitches. It is badly faded and soiled, however, and is not a particularly rare or valuable example of a wedding ring quilt.

Sometimes I take on a restoration project simply because the piece tugs at my heart. It's obvious that this quilt was loving made and thoroughly used for many years before it was sold to me as a cutter (a quilt that is usually cut to pieces to use the intact portions make pillows, bears, craft items, etc.)

I'm not cutting it up; I'll repair the damaged patchwork and backing and keep it as a teaching piece to demonstrate some of my conservation tricks, and use it occasionally to snuggle under on a cold night.


Dawn Montgomery said...

How do you restore a quilt that badly damaged?

But it is lovely...

Lynn Viehl said...

This quilt has wear and stain damage, which are two problems with one solution.

You can't use bleach on antique quilts to remove stains; the cottons are too delicate and you risk bleaching out the remaining color in the patterned fabric in the patchwork. Also some stains are so set in that they simply can't be removed by any chemical process.

Quilt conservationists like me also believe in doing no harm to the original piece -- in other words, not cutting away the worn, torn or stained portions of the quilt. Leaving the frayed patches in place preserves the original maker's work (unsightly as it's become.)

To repair the quilt, I'll make templates of the areas that need to be repaired, and then cut out, applique and quilt new patchwork over the worn and stained areas to cover them and reinforce the structure of the piece.

One inside trick is never to use brand-new fabric to repair an antique quilt, because the new patchwork looks stiff and the modern patterns we use now aren't cohesive. I collect vintage fabrics and have a nice selection of calico and feedsacks similar in age, color and print to the fabrics used to make this quilt, which I'll use for this one. Once the repairs are done you shouldn't be be able to tell where I've fixed it unless you compare the before and after photos. :)