Hi Everyone...delighted to have found this part of the site...looking forward to communicating with you.
I have never quilted, yet have accepted the challenge to restore (as best I can) a quilt for a nephew who is very dear to me. His paternal Grandmother made it about 60 years ago; has lots of aging signs and requires cleaning as well. In some areas, it's fairly fragile. I've found that sending it out to be evaluated and restored would be astronomically expensive...I don't know where to begin!
On one of the quilting shows, I got the idea of preserving part of the quilt as a cover for the end of the bed (like a runner), framing some of the unused pieces. I don't know where to begin...any suggestions?
My areas of sewing are in Home Decor, clothing, beginner embroidering and sewing for fun. Looking forward to hearing from you!
you have some work ahead of you.
first - is the quilt actually worth preserving? some just are not. regardless of the sentimental value. would it just be better to leave it alone?
if you decide it is worth the time and effort to preserve - do you just want to stablize it - and keep it as is - as a keepsake? or are you wanting to actually use it as a bed quilt? if you are gonna continue to use it - it will need to be washed occasionally, and the fabrics will continue to deteriorate with each washing - no matter how careful you are.
if you want to preserve what is there - stabilize and clean it - with the intention of preserving it, but not using it as a quilt - then you will need to gently clean it, repair damaged areas, and store it in the future in an archival method.
the quilt magazines will once in awhile have an article about preserving old quilts. you can look for one of those.
is the fabric deteriorating? are there holes in it? does it need a new binding? a new binding is the easiest part to replace. you can just put a newbinding right over the existing one. be aware that any new fabric you use on the quilt may not match the old fabrics already there.
are the holes or tears such that all the fabric is there ? then it could be gently hand sewn back together. if fabric is missing - then it would need to be replaced. youcan use a piece of washed muslin and slide it underneath the tear, gently stitch each end of the torn quilt fabric onto it. use a thin cotton thread - you actually want the thread to not be too strong (NO polyester) because you do not want it to tear the fabric (you would rather have thenew thread tear).
if pieces are pulling up - theycan be reattached by hand.
it is a good idea to make repairs before cleaning.
to clean - does it need washing, or can it just be freshened? whatever you do - the quilt needs to be supported - especially if wet and heavy, to prevent further damage and tearing of stitches and fabric. you can lay a clean piece of clean screen fabric(see below) over the top, and GENTLY vacuum the quilt to remove dust.
the screen should prevent the vacuum from pulling up loose fabric. which hopefully you have already repaired.
you can then place the quilt outside - NO direct sun, supported and protected by a clean sheet. the air will freshen the quilt. make sure it is in a protected place where no one will walk on it (no puppy paws either) . the quilt mustbe supported - and not carry its own weight, or you risk tearing fabric and popping sttches.
if you have to wash the quilt - find orvus soap at the quilt shop. it is very concentrated and has a neutral pH. do NOT throw it in a washing machine. do NOT dry clean. thoroughly clean a bathtub. make sure ALL residues of soap or bleach are removed. mix about a tablespoon of orvus with some water. make sure it is thoroughly dissolved before adding it to the lukewarm water in the tub. a quilt will get very heavy when wet. you need to support the quilt. clean screen fabric makes a good support. but you need to make sure the screen is clean (no dirt, no machine oil if it is new) before using it. lay the screen in the bottomof the tub - place the quilt on top. you can swish the quilt up and down to push the soapy water through it . you can replace the water as needed , until it stays clean. also make sure to thoroughly rinse all soap from the quilt once it is clean. if the quilt has brown spots - they may or may not wash out. depends on what they are. if the fabric has burned from being in contact with bare wood, they will not wash out.
when you are ready to remove the clean quilt from the tub - use the screen to lift it and support it. do not lift the heavy wet quilt by itself. the clean wet quilt can be placed on a clean well washed (no bleach ) sheet to dry (laid flat). don't throw it in a dryer. don't hang it on a clothesline. make sure it is not in sunlight and is protected from feet and birds.
once dry, if just being stored - it is best kept flat. laid on a seldom use bed, not in bright light is perfect. if you have to store it folded - use archival (acid free) tissue paper to gently support the folds in the quilt and store in an archival box. you will want to remove the quilt and rearrange the folds at least annually. and the archival tissue paper should be replaced each time.
if you need to make repairs - you can use tulle to cover any areas that are pulling up, if they are too damaged or fragile to sew by hand. cut a piece of tulle large enough to cover the damaged area and extend into undamaged fabric on the quilt. and then stitch down by hand.
or you could just use any part of the quilt still in good repair and cut away the damaged areas and make a lap quilt or throw for the foot of the bed or a table runner or a pillow.
good luck ckquilter
My apologies for the delayed response to your email. Thank you for taking the time to provide the detail; it is very helpful! You're right...lots of work involved!
I'm going to make a few suggestions to my nephew in preserving what is worth preserving and creating a project for some of the remaining pieces that will allow them to be passed on to his children...if he so desires.
Thank you so much!
if you decidethe quilt is not worth preserving as a whole - one idea for using it.
a friend of mine used to buy damaged quilts. she cut away the damaged parts. then used the remainder to cut out pieces that she then used to make stuffed animals. most children love soft stuffed animals - and that could be a good way of preserving usable pieces. it could even be a family project - letting the adults cut and sew, and letting younger hands help stuff.
another idea - for our service projects, we make small (24" square ) quilts to wrap around stuffed animals to give to first responders to carry to give to children they find at incident sites.
you might make several stuffed animals and/or a couple small quilts to coordinate from one larger quilt - depending on how much usable area there is in the original quilt. ckquilter