Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:
Vintage Quilts


I returned to work last week, after three weeks off following surgery. To some, the time off may have sounded nice with extra time for quilting. However, I cannot use my right arm, so my time was spent reading and surfing the internet using my left arm. I spent more time in the QCA forums and reading some of my favorite quilt blogs. Unfortunately, talking about quilts, reading about other quilters' projects, and seeing pictures in the galleries and blogs, just increased my desire to be quilting.

Since I am unable to share any new projects, I thought I might give a look at some of my vintage and antique quilts. Last year, I had a quilt appraiser look over my quilts and give me her verbal appraisal of age and condition of the, as well as, ways to repair and maintain them.

I purchased my first vintage quilt back about 1998, at an Amish quilt auction and flea market. It is a circa 1935 Butterfly quilt. I found it in a booth, but didn't immediately purchase it. You know that feeling you get, when you pass up an item and it nags you until you find it again and buy it. The quilt is faded, probably from being washed. It also has creases from being refolded in the same place. The hand quilting isn't beautiful. In fact, it's rather large, but consistent, which is considered good. The appraiser was not sure if the batting was wool or cotton; and she felt that the outside border may have been from a later date. But, the butterflies are definitely thirties fabrics and the green & pink setting is also typical of the period.

I picked up a summer throw last year at a local antique shop. The appraiser stated it was circa 1900, making it an antique. It is in a scrappy Rail Fence pattern using various fabrics. She suggested that many were dress weight fabrics, some are fine dress fabrics, and some may have been from silk ties. The layout is noted to be made from blocks and stitched to a foundation. The pieces are hand stitched, but the piece may also have some machine stitching. The top is tied and has a knife edge border.

I also picked up a circa 1935 wool throw at the same antique shop a few years back. It is an interesting pattern made of rectangles that have plain squares sewn on point at the intersections. Some of the squares appear to be set-in to the seams, while others appear to be stitched over the top of the intersecting block corners. The top is made of several different fabrics, notably wools, that may have come from a salesman's sample book. There are also silk ties and home dec fabrics. This top is also tied and likely meant as a utilitarian piece. The back is cotton. There are several loose patches, that the appraiser recommended repairing with a few stitches. And patches that had become frayed could be covered with a fine netting of the same color and stitched with a few stitches to hold it in place. These types of repairs do devalue the quilt, as completely removing and replacing patches would do. The top hangs over the back of a chair under the previous rail fence top. 

The last vintage quilt to share today is a circa 1940 Jacob's Ladder. I picked it up at a flea market/antique sale in Ludington, Michigan. It is quite small and likely made for a man or a small bed. The floral fabrics are from the 30's & 40's, but there are also checks and stripes. These may have been leftover shirtings from making men's shirts or cotton pajama pants. The top has hand quilting and the batting is likely cotton. The binding is bias. The quilt has been used and washed with an unknown pink stain on the backing, and she stated that the quilt was in fair condition.

As you can see, the quilts that I have collected are scrappy. I like that this gives a large sampling of the fabric choices during the time period when the quilt was made. The patterns are not elaborate and the quilting is not fancy.  When looking for older quilts to collect, I am looking for what appeals to my quilting tastes. You may surmise from my vintage collection, that I make scrap quilts, and you would be correct. Many of my quilts use an assortment of fabrics from my stash and from dressmaking scraps. I guess I like lots of color and texture.



Published Sun, Apr 21 2013 3:28 PM by Pamela


# re: Vintage Quilts@ Sunday, April 21, 2013 8:41 PM

Pam, I love your collection! I'd have to say tho that the butterfly is my favorite. Thank you for sharing.


# re: Vintage Quilts@ Monday, April 22, 2013 7:36 AM

Thank you for  sharing your beautiful collection.  I like the wool throw and would love to see it layed out in full.  I came upon a bunch of (probably) vintage wool fabric at an estate sale that must have been saved to make an unknown quilt.  There are 3 different plaid colors in large enough quantity to make a full or queen size quilt.  They are obviously left over pieces from some other project, but very large pieces that will work well when I get around to using them.  I am looking for ideas and your pattern looks like a candidate.