October 15, 2016

Antique Adventures

Last month I took Mike to his very first auction. He got an antique shotgun, I got a quilt. Unlike Mike, who has spent hours meticulously cleaning his purchase, I have not. Hence this post seeking advice on how to move forward.

I made the rookie mistake of not examining it carefully before bidding. Although, it was only $45 and I do LOVE the colors. Now, I need to figure out what to do with this quilt ...

First up, cleaning. The quilt is very "loved" and is grimy. Any recommendations on cleaning?  Methods or products.

Second, repairing the damage. If you look at the picture above the damage is quite extensive. It has huge rips, and in many places the fabric has actually split. Someone has zigzag stitched with a machine over already repaired areas. Is this the method?

You can see the edges are very grimy. It probably won't all come out but hopefully a good bath will get some out. It will be nice to know it's clean.

Any advice from you all would be great! 


  1. The quilt is so "you" I can see why you bid on it! I don't have any great advice on the cleaning. I am very particular about cleaning agents and would say that whatever you do, a gentle clean would be the way to go and I'd definitely line dry until the repairs are done. As for the repairs: I have zig zagged top stitched some of my older quilts that are "well loved" and been happy enough with the results. Some of your repairs look to need more care and attention to that, though. I might even consider some applique in areas - I'm guessing you have some colors that would almost seamlessly blend in. Just my 2 cents, and not really expert opinions here, and I hope you get some other great input.

  2. For cleaning I would suggest you put the quilt in a large mesh bag and wash in the bath tub with Orvis soap . Then put in the washing machine still in the mesh bag use towels to counter balance if needed and do a spin to get the bulk of the water out then lay flat to dry
    Hanging will stress the seams the batting the fabric
    The reason for the mesh bag is to give support to the whole quilt so it's seams and fabrics are not tugged and pulled

    For repairs what are your plans for the quilt ? To use it or preserve it ? If it's use it then I say look at each area and decide what would be best sew a patch ? To preserve it you need to talk to a professional
    It's alovely quilt if it were mine I would carefully wash it then after drying put it near my chair with mending supplies and spend my free time working on doing what it takes to fix the seams and put patches on the worn parts maybe do a bit of hand stitching like is done on crazy quilts

  3. I was gifted with a quilt in much the same condition as your auction find. I used a product called "Retro Soak'" recommended by my local quilt shop. I soaked it for several days in a large tub, (the water was pretty dis colored) and then rinsed and soaked. It took several rinses until the water came clean. I draped it over patio chairs and let it air dry in the sunshine. I repaired the quilt and replaced much of the hand quilting. When the quilt was completely repaired I machine washed it on gentle and let it air dry. I am very pleased with the results. There is also a Retro Wash, given the condition of my quilt the soak was the better choice. Good luck and please post pic's of your progress.

  4. You will be washing and repairing it to use it, right? I think that is a different approach from a museum curator-y approach.
    Colleen seems like a good source of advice. As Yvonne suggests, definitely air drying not tumble!
    I might consider appliqueing replacement bits over the damaged areas.
    After repair, it might stand up to more rigorous washing.

  5. That's a pretty quilt, it will be nice to bring it back.