Friday, September 03, 2010

Repaired Quilt, 1880

Last spring, I bought an old French quilt from one of my textile dealers that was a real doozie - a beautiful floral printed linen which had darkened over the years from dust and dirt. Looking for an afternoon project, my sister, Lisa, an avid sewer and textile collector, and I decided to dig (or rip) a bit further into the quilt. We just had a feeling that there might be something underneath the 1880's floral that could be worth exploring. Dating old fabric and trying to figure out how fabric was printed is something we both enjoy - Saturday afternoon fun!
We started out with a seam ripper, carefully pulling apart the hand-sewn center seam - but eventually moved right to the scissors and simply slid them down the center as the fabric fell to each side.What we found underneath was exciting - even though it was much smellier and dirtier than the top layer: a much older, probably 1780-1800, madder printed quilt - with huge sections completely thread worn or missing altogether - leaving patches of the wool stuffing. We instantly knew why some dear soul had covered it with the floral linen - the original quilt was, literally, falling apart. Instead of recycling the quilt, someone repaired it - what a concept.
We decided to take the top piece off completely - which was a much bigger job than we had anticipated. Two hours later, and Lisa was saying to me - "Why are we doing this?" But once we started, we couldn't stop - the idea of having two pieces of fabric, when I thought I only had one, was just too exciting - almost like a twofer! This doesn't happen very often - but when it does - I feel like I am discovering some unknown source of history - a wisp of something that was once beautiful and functional - colors that were preserved because they had been covered for the past century.
Covered in dust, and who knows what else - we finally had the original quilt and the cover in two pieces. The floral linen will debut as part of our new collection for Moda, Pom Pom de Paris, and the original madder stripe quilt is carefully tucked away waiting for a new life.
My sister Lisa is visiting again this weekend, I'm looking forward to a little more textile trouble.

10 comments:

ElizabethBaer said...

What an exciting Saturday afternoon task and what a good reward! This reminds me that you can sometimes have the same sort of adventure with old cushions with frayed needlework underneath and stools which have been re-covered several times, so go easy with the scissors and ripping tools. These hidden and forgotten old textiles can be real 'documents' unknown, and original and are so useful to people who design like Kaari Elizabeth

Linda said...

Hello lucky you ! I am a textile dealer and quilts are a big thing for me , I love old wrecks and taking the layers appart is a revelation.
Nothing is wasted ! I think you know my friend Elizabeth Baer ? best wishes wish I was there Linda
ps love your fabrics

Linda said...

Ah I see Elizabeth has beaten me to it !! Linda

Fern and Feather said...

oh oh oh... I love twofers!

sending love!! Alexis

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

HOW EXCITING... an unexpected treasure!

XO!

BB said...

how beautiful! you have inspired me to get to an old quilt top I purchased and bring life into it!

Sabrina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
paperbird said...

I think this is amazing. What a beautiful find.

Karen said...

What a treasure! That's just the sort of mischief I get into, projects just unravel don't they!?

jone hallmark said...

ONce my mom and a dear friend of hers decided to repair an old quilt that lived on my bed as a child. I was on a long trip and they drove from Texas to the East Coast to pick me up when I returned. The entire way, they sat in the back sewing while my dad drove. There were two fabrics on the original quilt that had just disintegrated, so they replaced them by hand-stitching little squares of other fabrics in their places...a true labor of love.
The quilt is still "alive" and it makes me smile to think of all the work they put into it...so long ago.