Saturday, September 7, 2019

Vintage Feathered Star Scrap Quilt

Clean and Fresh

A friend of mine has a passion for antiques of all kinds. He's always on the trail for interesting textiles worth saving too. So when he called me about a local quilt he'd found, I first asked what the pattern was. He hadn't a clue. When I finally saw it the next day, he asked me. I hadn't a clue either. It was so scrappy, and so dirty, it was was hard to see the pattern. We could make out a star here and there, but what were the alternate blocks?


This was the first picture I took before cleaning the quilt. Once again I will tell you, I carefully wash old quilts. I take great care not to stress the fibers, and it's done entirely by hand. A dirty quilt is of no value to me, and I don't want to introduce insects, mold, etc. into my home. 

In a Nutshell

I use Dawn blue dishwashing liquid and Oxyclean in an oversized bath tub. I soak, drain, and cycle through this process as many times as it takes to get the water clear. I may swish with my hands to agitate or have been known to stand in the tub with it moving it around with my feet, but you never want to lift a soaked quilt! You will tear the fragile fibers and threads! Use an old sheet to scoop under the quilt, and lift by the corner of the sheets. Carefully allow the quilt to drip until you are able to dry it flat. Use fans to promote drying, turning often. The drying process may take 2-3 days. Be sure the quilt is completely dry before storing.

The first wash cycle was filthy, and this quilt took at least 10 cycles over 2 days. The dirt and age just kept coming out.

Before Washing...

...and after washing. It smells fresh and clean!

It may be hard to see in the pictures, but the colors are once again vibrant. The background is a pale green and tan with printed red figures . And finally I could see all the little points of the feathered star! Looking through all the block encyclopedias I have, I could not give the block a definite name. Variation of the feathered star was as close as I could come. The square in a square in the center was found in several old blocks, but those seemed to have tips to the stars. The scrappiness of the blocks hid the pattern in several, but they are all feathered stars when you examine them. Amazing!

 Last Thoughts

It is very interesting to me looking at the before and after pictures of this quilt. The fold lines remain in the 'after' picture. We all need to remember to vary the ways we fold our quilts, old or new. It really does matter.

We're enjoying the last sweet corn of summer while someone else watches for the birds. 

Fall is coming fast. 
Enjoy the feast for the senses.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Lets' go sew.


Linda Swanekamp said...

Wow, the difference is amazing. I have a couple of old quilts that I will wash with your directions. Where do you lay the quilt out with the fans? Such a lovely quilt.

Angie in SoCal said...

What a difference a wash makes!

Sarah Craig said...

Thanks so much for sharing this right now, as I have three "new-to-me" vintage quilts that stand in desperate need of cleaning! Yours is quite beautiful - the cleaning did amazing things!

patty a. said...

Don't you wonder how on earth did the quilt get so dirty? Did someone just leave it a pile of dirt? LOL!!

Rebecca Grace said...

I notice that there is damage to the quilt binding in one of the photos. Curious whether you repaired that prior to washing the quilt? I've been hunting around for very specific, step by step instructions for washing vintage quilts (because it's for a client who wants to know how to do this safely herself) and several that I found suggest that any repairs should be made prior to washing the quilt to avoid the damage worsening during laundering... Yet I know that many collectors choose not to make repairs to vintage quilts, preferring to preserve them in their current state and just stave off additional damage. What are your thoughts on that?

Sandy Panagos said...

Wow, the difference is unbelievable. Thanks for the step by step!

O'Quilts said...

lovely post

Julie said...

In response to Rebecca above: I have seen very valuable quilts in museums with blocks that showed like damage as this one. The mordants used with many early madder dyes rotted the fabrics after a period of time. Typically you see it in the browns, reds, purples. The people involved with preserving those museum quilts used a fine mesh or organza, and carefully sewed over the entire block to preserve the existing fabrics. Preservation and restoration are different things, and I think that needs to be stated even though you only mention preservation. I believe we should do our best to preserve, but I would not personally repair or restore a quilt. I think it detracts visually. That's my personal opinion. 
You spoke of collectors, and I will include dealers, but repairs by both are made for various reasons, and not always for the good. If a repair was to be done, it should be done with materials and tools from the time period. Also, a record of that repair should be included if that quilt was then sold. 
Also, if someone wants to just make sure they aren't bringing insects (bedbugs, etc.) in to their home, they can freeze the textile for several weeks. You often come across quilts in my freezer, FYI. 

KaHolly said...

Incredible difference after laundering! You’ve given this beauty a brand new life through your patience, perseverance , and extraordinary knowledge. We all have so much to continuously learn from you. Thank you sew much for sharing!