RSC15 week 43


About 20 years ago, in my antique quilt collecting days (which have continued with my daughter’s help), I found this stack of old blocks nicely pieced in about 1870-1900.  They were waiting for someone to give them a good home, and I could not resist.  They had been pressed, but developed stains and some folds over the years, naturally.  
I thought this brown month was the time to share them.  I need some advice on how to handle them, i.e., wash or not, piece them,etc.  if you have some ideas or can point me to someone knowledgeable about treating antique quilts, I sure would appreciate any help you can offer.

Here is how my dark chocolate block looks with some of the others, very good I think.  In two months I will have 36 blocks, but I have no idea about turning them into one or more quilts.  I will have to get out the grid paper and do some designing.   Soon that will be one more WIP.  They seem to be stacking up on me, but I am quilting the butterfly D9P, just simple diagonals, so it won’t take long.

Thanks again, folks, for all your encouragement and inspiration.

I link up with RSC15 at and Sew Cute Tuesday at Please come join us, it’s lots of fun.

14 thoughts on “RSC15 week 43

  1. Hope there's someone out there with a lot of knowledge about antique quilts. My concern would be just how frail the fabric is. The staining may indicate that the fabric has been somewhat compromised and weak in places. But I'm no expert. Good luck with the project. It has great potential.


  2. The Balloon blocks looks nice set in a RAINBOW of color! As for the antique blocks… My vote is for NO WASHING before they are set into a quilt. It's too much stress on the old fibers! As far as how viable an option it is to set them into a quilt, THAT is a question for a quilt historian.


  3. What a treasure those antique blocks are! I've tried washing blocks and unfinished flimsies during quilt making and it is usually a disaster. I'm sure they could all be washed though, once they are in a finished quilt. What a fun reason to learn more about old quilts.


  4. Those blocks are gorgeous. I wouldn't wash them either, until they were stabilized – fraying would be a disaster. Maybe your local quilt guild has some ideas on where to find an expert to consult?
    I love your balloon blocks!


  5. oh what a treasure you found. I don't know what you want to do, but you'll need to press them to piece them. Personally I got sick today using one of my paintstick pieces that had already been heat set, when I went to press the seams. Ironing really releases a lot of not so good stuff. I'd gently wash them, sort of soaking them in a basin without lots of agitation, in a gently quilt wash before I'd piece them. Lots of hands have been on them. I like the way you have them right now… I'm not good at block quilt design though. LeeAnna


  6. what a good find, not sure what you should do but I would be tempted to make them into a quilt prior to washing them very gently of course, hope someone will help out who really knows what they are talking about! Balloon blocks look super.


  7. I have made several rescue quilts (I am no expert – simply someone who uses old blocks in new ways). I learned from a long arm quilter that a very soft interfacing can be applied to the back of each frail block to stabilize it before the blocks are sewn together (making the finished top a bit sturdier). I do not wash any of the old pieces until they have been assembled, quilted, and bound – and then on gentle only with multiple color catchers. No disasters so far.


  8. Another thought – if you have a local quilt appraiser, you might check with that person. They are sometimes quite knowledgeable about how to care for older fabrics, what is valuable, what is merely old and interesting, etc.


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