Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Antique Quilts

It was Quilt Festival in St. Jacobs last week and there were many wonderful quilting events to attend. I took advantage of this event to get some antique quilts examined by Judy Lyons, certified quilt appraiser.
I am not really into antique quilts and don't know much about them at all. But a good friend from childhood showed me 3 quilts she inherited from her great grandmother and asked if I could "fix" them for her. Because I have been friends with her for 35+ years, I couldn't say "no". In addition, she is currently estranged from her family, and the possibility of nurturing her connection to a great grandmother, who was a quilter, greatly appealed to me. I have never done restoration work, so decided to consult an expert. 
There is very little information known about these quilts, and no labels on them, so Judy did some detective work for me. She was able to connect the quilts as being made from the same quiltmaker (or the same stash/scrap bag) by looking for samples of the same fabrics being used in all the quilts, and there were several examples of that. 
Judy dated the fabrics and guesstimated the date of the quilts' finish by the newest fabrics, which means they were likely finished in the 1960's. 
There are two quilts like that is very worn and used, and one that is in much better condition. They were likely meant for twin beds, but my friend had one brother, and no sisters, so the one quilt (likely meant for a sister) was not used much.

Some of the dresses are worn to shreds, and the embroidery has disintegrated. I am looking forward to the hand embroidery I will do to fix those missing stitches.
And yet some of the blocks are in great condition.  
I haven't ever seen a block quite like this one before...have you? 
I particularly like the petticoat stitches, and flowers, and the accents on the bonnets. 

Here is the Dresden Plate quilt. The purples in it are still so vibrant and pretty. This quilt is large and doesn't fit on my design wall, but you get the idea. I have enjoyed studying the unique combination this quilter used - darker plaid and checked fabrics combined with bright pastels and the solid purple.

Regarding the hand quilting, it is possible that the quilting was done by more than one quilter because the stitches are inconsistent. Or perhaps the quilter was not very experienced with hand quilting (like me!) or had arthritis that would produce a wide range of quilting stitches. 
 A big thank you to Judy Lyons for a fun and informative visit into the world of antique quilts. Now I will start my search for antique fabrics (or repros) to repair these quilts. 
I hope that my efforts to restore these quilts will help my friend to patch up her frayed connection to her family history.


Debbie said...

Very interesting. Good luck!

swooze said...

I have done some restoration work and really enjoy it.

Mary said...

You're showing two of my favorite Antique quilts here. I'm so glad she entrusted them to you. I know you'll do a great job with them. Have fun stitching those dolly's. Maybe the g-ma designed them herself, I haven't seen that version of sunbonnet girls before either.

Jean said...

You are a great friend to go to all this work! They will be wonderful when finished.
I don't think I have seen that exact girl, but there are lots of versions of Sunbonnet Sue as well as Sheepherder girls. I like the billowing dress.

Janet O. said...

Very cute little girl. That will be quite a job for you if many of those dresses are shredded and stitches disintegrated. Good of you to take it on.
That is an eclectic fabric mix on the purple quilt. Truly "make do" quilts make me smile.

Clare said...

Very interesting. I love reading about antique quilts. If they could talk what stories they would tell.