Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Restoring a 90 year old Quilt

For a few days this week, Charlotte and I flew down to FL to see my parents.  My Grandma and her sister are here - super cool ladies - and they always have some project going.  I mean always.  So my Grandma found this family quilt out in a barn - it was made by my great-great grandmother in the late 1920's or early 30's.

Why it was in a barn I do not know. In case you were wondering - don't put heirloom quilts in a barn. 
I know you are all super smart about that stuff anyway :)
SO needless to say, it needed some repair.  She has been patching some of the pieces, and she put a new binding on it. 
Here's how she's been doing it - in case you are wandering through an old barn and happen upon a 90 year old quilt ;)

*Find some fabric that matches the color scheme of the quilt (the point is you are restoring - try to honor the original artist).

My great-great grandmother used a lot of feedsack fabric for the pieces.  Apparantly they used to sell feed in pretty flowered sacks.  Why did they do that?  I don't know.  But my grandma said she and her sister would go to the feed store to pick out fabric for their dresses.  One of their sisters was voted best dressed in her class - and her dresses were made from feedsacks!  Impressive.  (and I am thankful we don't have to dig through piles of feedsacks to find just the right fabric...)

*Handstitch the fabric on - right sides together - along one edge of the damaged piece.

*Fold it over the damaged piece allowing an extra 1/4" to be turned under. 

Finger press.  Cut along the fold that you made.

*Turn the raw edges under and pin well.

*Start stitching at a corner. 

Secure it well and then continue with a small blind stitch all the way around the piece. 

Pretty soon (, I mean days later...) your heirloom family quilt will be good as new!

So sit on the couch in your p.j.s and shop for fabric today - and be grateful you don't have to find a feedsack for your baby daughter's next dress - and wait for the fabric store to mail it to you and have it dropped right on your doorstep - so you really don't even have to get dressed or fix your hair to be surrounded by gorgeous fabric. 

happily spoiled by modern America,


  1. Lovely photos of your grandmother's hands working. I would love to have thought to take a similar photo of my grandmother's hands as she quilted or crocheted. How fun to be able to watch her restore a family heirloom.

  2. Feed-sacks were pretty because fabric was too expensive, and considered a frivolous purchase during the depression. Feed makers used pretty fabric so that thrifty housewives could still make new clothing for the family by re-purposing the sacks of feed. :) Some people collect "feed-sack dresses"

  3. wow that is a gorgeous quilt! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for this illustrated lesson. I have an old twin bed quilt, a real crazy quilt (each block has from five to eight pieces of different fabrics and each block is less than 8 inches square). It was made by my mother in 1948 for me. Someone took off the back and the batting at some point since I left home nearly 50 years ago. I suspect my mother intended to replace them but then discovered many pieces that needed replacing or fixing, and it never got done. I am doing my best to figure out what has to be fixed and what does not. I have replaced the batting and the backing, and had started tying it when I discovered that there are many lost seams. My plan is to fix what I can and recover the parts that cannot be fixed. This pictorial lesson is helping me greatly. Thanks so much for posting it.


Thanks so much for commenting! If you have a question, make sure your email is in your profile or leave it in a comment so I can answer you. Otherwise email me at jessica(at)sewhomegrown(dot)com - Have a lovely day!

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