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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: BabsSewingRoom
Date: 08-31-2006, 09:53 AM (1 of 4)
Can you quilters help me with an old quilt. I have a quilt that was done by my husband's great grandmother. The quilt has been stored in a trunk for over 50 yrs. The g. grandmother (Lucy Bowie) died in 1934 at age 75 so it is probably over 75 yrs old. It is a log cabin in red and has never been used or laundered. I have had it for the last 13 yrs stored in a white pillowcase. It is excellent condition except for one stain on the back. And this might just be where the red fabric has bled thru. What do I do with this quilt? I'm really hesitant to use it. My husband never knew the great grandmother so it doesn't hold a lot of sentimental value for him. A great aunt had it in the trunk all those years because it had been her mother's. I once had a lady tell me to have it dry cleaned but I've since read that's a NO NO for old quilts. Any advise would be appreciated.
User: BabsSewingRoom
Member since: 04-10-2004
Total posts: 80
From: HeyJudee
Date: 08-31-2006, 01:35 PM (2 of 4)
From: Patty22
Date: 08-31-2006, 08:34 PM (3 of 4)
There is no need to have the quilt drycleaned. If you are concerned about the one stain on the back, don't worry about it.

Since you believe the stain was caused from the red fabric bleeding through, I would hesistate to even wash the quilt. Let's say you do end up washing the quilt and the fabrics all turn pink from the red dye released in the water, there is Synthropol that can remove that dye. The trick is that the quilt must not get dry from the washing and it is immediately put into a tub of water with the Synthropol. Rinsed carefully and rechecked for red dye that still has not been released by the other fibers.

I'm sure one of the websites go through all the information about washing, but I wouldn't bother going that route with a quilt that has not been used.

Let's go through some steps to help you decided what you want to do with the quilt.
* Air the quilt out by placing some clean sheets out on a flat surface outside that will not be distrubed by people,animals, or direct sunlight. Place the quilt on the sheets and then flip after a few hours. If the quilt smells fresh continue with folding the quilt for storage. If the quilt doesn't smell very good, place it in a large tupperware container. In a bowl place some coffee beans (making sure none of the beans get on the quilt.) Leave for a few days and then check for any odors.

*If you notice any insect carcass or are leary of any infestations, place the quilt in a plastic bag and tie off with a twist tie. Place the quilt in a freezer for a week. After that time, remove the quilt and lightly shake to see if any unwanted guests have been thwarted. Repeat the process if you really want a cushion of safety.
*Fold the quilt placing tissue paper (buffered for cotton fabrics, unbuffered if you are not sure of the fiber contents) at folded areas. Place the quilt back into the cotton pillowcase.
*Try to do some research on the maker. Try to get some photos of her, where she lived and children/relatives. Was she a prominent resident? Were her children prominent?
*You said the pattern is log cabin, but are there fabrics contained in the quilt that are interesting? Possibly centennial fabrics from the fair in Philly? World Exposition in Chicago? Madders? Shirtings with unusual objects? You may find that the quilt may be older or younger than what you think by dating the fabrics.

If after doing some research on the maker and the quilt itself you may either feel more attached to the woman who created it, or totally removed. If you keep the quilt, you will be able to pass on all the information to other family members who can also cherish it. Make a pocket on the quilt and place the information in acid free paper and then into the pocket of the quilt.

If you decided to donate it to a local historical society or even sell it, the provenance you have gathered is still important. If you go the local historical society route, be sure to ask some important questions of the facility. Ask to see their Mission Statement. Do they have proper storage or possibly a quilt collection? If they do have quilts, ask to see how their quilts are stored. Do they have a collection management policy and does the quilt fall within their guidelines for objects collected (making sure they are not double acquisitioning for future sales). Take a good look around the place, you will be able to sum up the situation of whether or not they take care of the objects placed in their custodial care.

Good luck.
User: Patty22
Member since: 03-29-2006
Total posts: 1194
From: BabsSewingRoom
Date: 09-01-2006, 10:20 AM (4 of 4)
Thanks for your responses. I appreciate your taking the time to do that. I also do genealogy work ( so I have considerable info and pictures on the lady that made it. I will put that with the quilt.

I have several other things that were hers as well as dozen or more other quilts. The old tablecloths & other quilts I am using on the assumption no one else would appreciate them anyway. I feel like the keeper of all this stuff.

We have a local historical society and another relative that got me into genealogy is leaving her many many works to them so I think I'll wait & watch how they handle her stuff (she's 91). I just remembered I do have one of those old wall pictures (18x24 or something like that) of the g.grandmother that made my quilt so that with the quilt would make a good display "somewhere".

Thanks for all your suggestions. For now I think I'll get some acid free paper, refold the quilt regularly and leave the quilt in my pillowcase (that was hers too).
User: BabsSewingRoom
Member since: 04-10-2004
Total posts: 80
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