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    Finishing an antique quilt

    I came across the following blog post on Google + yesterday. My thinking may be wrong but I just couldn't see myself finishing an antique quilt as precious as that one and with its history no matter what my skill level. I would carefully store it or display it and leave it just the way the original owner/sewer left it - to me that would be what would make it so precious to me. On another level, going on the Antiques Roadshow program, wouldn't finishing it destroy the value if that mattered to you? The show seems to criticise people who 'repair' antiques.

    New Blogpost - Provenance

    When I see a very old building restored even if they use the same slate etc., to me it's just not the same anymore. I can no longer imagine the builders, now long dead, touching and creating the original material.

    (I mean no disrespect to Elita with this topic. I really want to know if I'm in the minority with my view on this.)
    ~: Ron :~

    "You cut up fabric and then sow it back together again? Really?"

    #2
    Re: Finishing an antique quilt

    The one thing about finishing old quilts (or repairing them) is that the quilt even if made in 1890 will be dated from the newest item added. If I used material from 1990 the quilt's age would be known from that date, not 1890. If you used thread from last week, the quilt takes that age. If you truly want to preserve a quilt or top to it's original date, you have to use material from the same era, not reproductions, etc.

    It's a hard call. A top isn't as valuable as a finished quilt, you can't utilize it as it was intended, unless you finish it. I had a top that my grandmother pieced in the 1930's. I finished it with backing from recent times, quilting it by hand in the design that my grandma had started marking on the top, way back when. To me it's still an heirloom and really, that's all that matters. I didn't do it to sell or to have some high dollar quilt.
    K is for Karen 😊​..................
    Cremation - My last hope for a smokin' hot body.


    Before you speak,
    T - is it TRUE?
    H - is it HELPFUL?
    I - is it INSPIRING?
    N - is it NECESSARY?
    K - is it KIND?

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      #3
      Re: Finishing an antique quilt

      With a quilt that old, I would have probably donated it to our local museum who displays quilts. I could never see myself actually using a quilt with material that old when it is in such great shape, there is just too much history and value to use it or mess with it. Now if it was a family heirloom and needed repair, I would probably try to fix it depending upon what was wrong and how I wanted to use it. I have several quilts that are well worn from my great grandparents that I use only as display quilts.

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        #4
        Re: Finishing an antique quilt

        No disrespect taken, Ron. I totally understand your position. When someone brings me an antique top or quilt to repair or finish, I do advise them that it does decrease the monetary value of the item. I've never had anyone decide not to continue based on that criteria. To them, the most important value lies in being able to view and/or use that quilt/top every day because it is a reminder of the person who made it, usually a family member. For myself, I think quilts are meant to be used. I would be delighted if my great-great-great-grandchildren can use my quilts but I know that there won't be many to be preserved in such a way. Most will be loved beyond repair. What I hope to leave as the legacy is the love of the quilting process because that is where I feel the connection, not just with the tangible item.

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          #5
          Re: Finishing an antique quilt

          Hello Elita,

          I wondered if you were a member of the forum although I see you just joined. For interest's sake, how did you come across my post?

          Thank you for your very interesting reply. I hope that the few quilts I've already made in my short time in this wonderful craft, and the ones I make in the future, survive so that my future family members can still use them and wonder about the ancestor that made them.

          So is restoring or finishing antique quilts your specialisation?
          ~: Ron :~

          "You cut up fabric and then sow it back together again? Really?"

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            #6
            Re: Finishing an antique quilt

            I would have to agree with Elita on a lot of points. I do agree that altering the original top would decrease the value, but most of the antique quilt tops we have seen are from either 1) a family member who wants to finish the top their grandmother/great-grandmother, etc., made so that it can be used/passed down to the next generation as a finished quilt ... or 2) someone who bought an antique top at a garage sale for a steal (read $10 for a double wedding ring, hand-pieced in original feedsacks!) and they also just want it finished to use themselves. I also tell our clients that it will alter the value, and that most traditionalists prefer a hand-pieced top be hand quilted, but if they are fine with modern longarming, we are more than happy to accommodate. I guess it all depends on what the current owner of the antique top has in mind for its use.

            Christine Wood
            Cedar Valley Quilts

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              #7
              Re: Finishing an antique quilt

              Very interesting conversation. I have a grandmother's Flower Garden top that was pieced by my Mother in the 30's. It was never finished because she was one hexie short of having enough fabric. My sister and I have discussed finishing it, but I don't know how to proceed. I would definitely hand quilt it as she and her grandmother who taught her to sew would have done. That is on my "someday" list.

              That being said, I understand the Ron's concern about altering something made so long ago, and would maybe feel a little guilty about doing that.
              Donna

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                #8
                Re: Finishing an antique quilt

                If the antique quilt top or quilt only means money to you, then I think you shouldn't touch it unless you are sure of what you are doing. If the antique quilt has sentimental value and you would never-ever sell it, then it should be restored to what is best for the quilt disregarding that the restoration may affect the value.

                P.S. I think restoring an old building is an awesome thing to do. If not restored and repaired, it will continue to fall apart and be in a state of disrepair. I love seeing fully restored buildings as you get a sense of what it was like during that period.
                Last edited by madampolo; January 19, 2014, 11:24 PM.
                Joyce "She who dies with the most fabric wins!!"

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                  #9
                  Re: Finishing an antique quilt

                  I came across the post because my website tracks pingbacks. Whenever a post or something on my website is linked somewhere on the web, it sends a message back to my website. This keeps the spamming down because I can see where the mention came from & check the validity. I've been lurking around the MSQC blog for a while but hadn't commented before so I only just properly joined.

                  One of my services is the restoration or finishing of antique quilts. Most of my clients bring me their own quilt tops but I have longarmed a couple of antique tops as well, per the client's request. Sometimes they just want to be able to use them.

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