Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vintage Thingie Thursday...Vintage Quilt Tops...Let's QuiltEm'

Being in the Machine Quilting Business has given me many opportunities to deal with Vintage Quilt Tops and their owners, who often have their grandmothers tops or they have purchased them at estate sales and antique shops. There are many of us who love the 1930's to 1960's quilts and fabrics, and some of us who specialize in making them a finished quilt.

So, if you have a Vintage Quilt Top and are wondering how it should be finished or if it should be finished, here are a few guidelines to consider.

1...Are the fabrics in good enough condition that they can be gently tugged on without tearing. Many old tops that have been stored in cedar chests or plastic will rot and stain due to the chemicals released by the wood and polyurethane.

2...Are the fabrics mostly cotton. Many old tops will have a variety of fabrics besides, linen, denim, etc. that have a tendency to ravel away at the seam or deteriorate from age or strong dye processes. Red, black and indigo are the ones to watch for rot and dye run.

3...Are the seams and stitching secure enough for mounting on the machine. Gentle tugging without coming apart, and the top lays relatively flat. Piecing that has puckers and puffs will result in overlaps and tucks.
4...Does the quality of the Piecing (craftsmanship) and the or Intricate Piecing Design vs Scrap Pattern...merit HandQuilting vs Machine Quilting.
5...Does the top merit the expense of finishing either for sentimental or other reasons, and what kind of use is planned for the top once it is quilted.

 Many Vintage Tops loose value when they are machine quilted. This depends on meeting the 1-5 criteria and the historical significance of the top. Let's say for the purpose of getting on with the Machine Quilting that your Top is much like the 1930's String Quilt pictured here. It meets the requirements for Machine Quilting. It was purchased at an estate sale, is hand pieced in a very scrappy string pattern, is relatively flat and square. It's ready to be Machine Quilted.

Here's a Clothes Line of  a few of Vintage Tops that have been machine quilted.  The Two Flower Garden Quilts started out as One Top and the Star Quilt was individual blocks that I put together with recycled feedsacks.  The next quilt was pieced with useable leftovers.  The last quilt was a full size double wedding ring top that I cut in half and made two smaller quilts.

 If you are interested in the next steps for machine quilting a vintage top you are welcome to step Into The Storage Closet for the rest of the Machine Quiting Tutorial #1

There's a Link there to see and meet "QuiltALotty" LongArm Quilting Machine.  If you've never seen one, here's your opportunity.

Thanks to our Vintage Thingie Thursday hostess Suzanne at ColoradoLady.  Let's go see what Vintage Goodies everyone is showing this nearly Valentines Day Thursday!

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a few of my Vintage Quilts and have been encouraged to finish that  1930's quilt top you found at an estate sale. 
Thanks for Coming and Commenting!!


  1. Thank you for the information. Great to know. Love those quilts.

  2. I love those pretty quilts..Happy VTT..

  3. Oh they are so much work and I so much admire anyone like yourself that has the talent and stamina to follow through to completion. I am thankful and blessed that I inherited my grandmothers prized quilt. It is so very special. What you do is a wonderful thing. I know that many appreciate your work. Have a blessed week filled with love, Cherie

  4. My mom and the other ladies in her women's circle at church used to make quilts out of scratch fabrics. Back in those days, one didn't BUY fabric for a quilt - - - they were masterpieces of warmth made from scraps and "still good" cloth from worn out clothing items.

    That kind of a quilt is a stroll down memory lane, especially if some of the clothes they represent were YOURS.

  5. I am not a quilter, but I found this all very interesting.I love learning things on VTT!

  6. Lovely quilts and great information!

  7. I love quilts, especially the older ones. The workmanship and details are so much better than machine made. The ones you shared today are very pretty. I do not quilt, just buy.

  8. I loved this post! Thanks for such good information, as I've often wondered about exactly that. Will be back for a longer visit soon!

  9. The quilts are lovely and your post very informative. I am so fortunate to have my Great Grandmother's quilt lined with flour and sugar bags. It is soooooo heavy I was afraid to have a friend use it when she was cold because she was so tiny I thought it might crush her. It was the only thing that finally kept her warm.

  10. These quilts are all works of art. I see many quilt tops in my antique shopping and they always make me a little sad and motivated to not leave any UFO's around. God Bless the machine quilters :)


  11. I buy vintage tops on eBay & LA quilt them, I think that the piecer would be thrilled to have them finished & used. I have a 18x30's dresden plate blocks I am setting on point for my next vintage project.

  12. oh, I so want a beautiful old quilt! My own sewing is not to good, so I'm hoping for finding a gem someday, somewhere thrifting. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Great information on vintage quilt tops, how to choose which ones to finish. You did a great job. Your quilts are lovely.

  14. What great information, and what lovely quilts. I have often wondered about how the fabrics would hold up....thanks for the info. Have a great VTT!

  15. Hello Sue, I finally found a moment to comment. This post is very interesting. I have a quilt top my mother made out of polyester. It may sound awful but it is so sweet. She hand embroidered each square. She used as many embroidery stitches as she could find. I should post it. It is in my sister's attic. I am trying to remember if the squares were sewn together or not. You gave me a memory to check out. My mom was not a quilter.

    This is all good information to know. I do not have a vintage quilt or top. Quilting is new to me really. I took lessons years ago and finished a quilt top by hand. It is a sampler quilt. It isn't quilted.

    Your quilts are lovely. The pattern you featured is really fun. My quilt is on the back burner until I take applique lessons. The quilt shop has not started the class because of bad weather and few applicants. I hoping it will start soon.

    Have a wonderful day
    Hugs, Jeanne

  16. What lovely quilts...I am a fan of vintage quilts! Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings, Grace

  17. Very good advice! Wonderful vintage fabrics in that string quilt!

  18. We enjoy going to auctions and sometimes quilt tops are available for sale. I don't know enough about the subject to bid but this information does help me to know what to look for.


  19. Thank you for the information.
    I have some old tops and pieces, but I'm afraid they are suited mostly for crafts (being cut up, or individual squares framed). But at least they have a use!


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