My Quilt Collection
Here’s a little something you didn’t know about me: before I launched Mums ‘n Chums back in 2009, I used to have a store on Ebay, buying and selling vintage quilts and fabrics.
I bought and sold some real beauties! And, to be honest, always had a hard time letting the quilts go. That was a while back, but I still own 5 favourites (and mayyyyybe a giant stash of tops, blocks and quilt fabric pieces, too). These are ones I just could not part with.
One is a 124 year-old irish chain quilt made with the famous turkey red and cream cotton fabrics. Tattered as it is, is has so much charm! Cotton seeds are visible in the batting and the stitched signature of its quilter grace the back. This piece is what’s known in the Ebay quilt seller circles as a “cutter” as it is far from mint. Ones like it are frequently bought by crafters for various projects but I don’t have the heart to destroy it. It’s still in good enough condition to cherish as-is.
In all the years I’ve owned it, I’ve tried examining that signature many times. I can only make out the third name, “Augustine” and the year it was made: 1893. I once bought bits of vintage 1890’s-era turkey red fabric for it, with the intention of doing repairs. Though I have made several quilts myself though, I’ve realized a historical restoration is beyond my ability. Parts of it are faded, and some blocks, like the one shown in the photo above, are worn and damaged. I definitely didn’t buy it for resale, as I did with most. I just fell in love with the character of it and the way it tells its story. Quilts back then were not used sheerly for display, but were essentials in every home. That shows in this one and is part of why I love it.
Collecting Quilts, 101
Part of what I enjoyed about collecting and selling vintage quilts was learning so much about antique fabrics and textiles. I can now recognize and name most popular quilt patterns and fabric styles. The stories and history behind each one are always interesting and fun to read.
My 50’s era quilt with hand stitching and embroidery
Another of the pieces I kept is a cheerful 50’s era quilt with a ton of detail, made entirely by an expert hand with great care. That one is nearly mint save for one tiny spot, but I do take it out and enjoy it sometimes. I’ve learned it’s important to unfold an old quilt from time to time, which is the perfect excuse to use it. I actually tried selling this one with no takers. Perhaps it’s meant to stay with me, at least for now.
Some other tips I’ve learned, if you have a beauty like one of these:
- As mentioned above, if you are keeping your vintage quilt stored away, be sure to unfold it every now and then to air it out. Be sure to fold it a different way next time to prevent crease marks.
- Keep it in a smoke free environment
- If possible, keep it unfolded, such as on a bed with a cotton sheet over it
- Keep your quilt out of direct sunlight
- Do not store it in a place where it may be susceptible to moths or other bugs
- Store your quilt in a dry place! Moist air can rot old fabrics or cause mold to start forming.
- Do not store it in plastic. Use a cotton sheet instead so the fabrics can breathe.
- Acids in unfinished wood, such as inside of a drawer, can damage the fabrics. If you must store it that way, be sure to either wrap the quilt in a cotton sheet, line the drawer with acid free paper, or both.
- If you use the quilt and occasionally need to wash it, wash only by hand in a bathtub with cold water. Check the fabrics for colourfastness first. Some quilters choose not to pre-wash their fabrics and colours can bleed into each other. I learned this the hard way once, even though I knew this and shouldn’t have tried it!
- Do not machine wash or dryclean
- Never hang a wet quilt from a clothesline. Dry by lying the quilt outside on top of a clean cotton sheet. If in direct sunlight, cover the quilt with a second cotton sheet.
My Favourite Quilt
This one has been everywhere with us over the last 9 years!
Of all of the quilts I still have, this raggedy, funky, buttery soft dresden plate quilt is my favourite
. I believe the quilt itself to be new-ish, but the feedsack fabrics
in the appliqued flowers are legit, likely from the 30’s or 40’s. The whole piece, even the feedsack parts have some soft pink marbling on them that suggests it may have been tie-dyed after it was made. An interesting technique I haven’t seen on many quilts before. I fell in love with this colourful piece and knew I’d be keeping it.
It doesn’t stay folded for long.
We’ve taken this quilt to every picnic, fireworks show and park visit I can remember since my boys were born. It’s definitely showing wear, and has been washed so many times I’m surprised it’s still pink! It is well-loved, but isn’t that the point of a quilt after all?
Family Memories Made
It may have only cost me $8, but the memories made on this pink flea market find are absolutely priceless. Little, and seemingly insignificant things of no retail value are often the most valuable of all. Cherish them!
Did you have any hobbies before kids, and if so, do you still do them? If you’ve stopped, do you hope to pick it back up again one day? I do, but it will be a while…
Please share yours in the comments below!