10 June 2009

great-grandma's quilts

As we cleaned out my grandma's house a couple weeks ago, we found eight antique quilts that we assume my great-grandmother made. Many of them have become threadbare and stained, but I love them all.I found one in the linen closet, Dad brought down a box of them from the attic, and then we found three more in the basement. It was raining antique quilts, made by the hand of my great-grandmother! I was so freaking excited.These are definitely patchwork quilts--you can tell they were made with whatever fabrics she had on hand. A couple are quite complex, while others are simple patterns.I agonized about how to wash them, because after who knows how many years sitting in the attic, they certainly needed to be washed. I read online that the best way to clean vintage quilts is to vacuum them, which sounded a bit ridiculous, though I guess it would be a gentle way to air them out. I finally decided just to wash and dry them on delicate, and they don't appear to be too much the worse for the experience. They certainly smell a lot better.My next task is to mend them. I don't want to "ruin" their vintage authenticity, but I also want them to be attractive and useful for me and the rest of the family. Many of them have holes that need to be patched and I also plan to add new binding to the ones where the original binding has frayed almost to the point of nonexistence. Anyone know how to gently remove giant, decades-old stains from quilts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I am at a bit of a loss. Thanks! There are more pictures over on flickr if you're interested in vintage quilts.