Washing OLD quilts - and I want to strangle my mother!

dragongoddessMay 26, 2007

We were cleaning the basement the other day, and pulled out a box. I asked what was in it, since it hasn't been opened since before I was born - it came from Grandma's house when she died.

She, who obviously knows I am a quilter, says "oh, I think there are some quilts in there." UM, yeah! There are FIVE quilts, made by my great grandma. In horrible condition, wrapped in plastic 30+ years. Should I attempt to wash them, if so, how? I'd like to display them somehow. There's a drunkard's path, a double wedding ring, a sixteen patch, a string quilt, and another as yet undetermined pattern . I'll take pics after they air out a little.

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I hope there will be someone who knows more than I do about washing and salvaging old fabrics, but what a find! It is a shame that the quilts were neglected for so long, but on the other hand, who among us wouldn't loooove to find a treasure like that in our basement or attic?

When you say "horrible condition," do you mean they have a musty smell, are falling apart, have holes in them, have spots on them (mold or brown spots), or something else? The treatment might vary, depending on their condition. I'm dying to see the pictures!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 9:58PM
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I think I'd wash them -- but you might clarify "horrible condition" for us like biwako asked -- if they are falling apart machine washing might be too much agitation. I think I've read about soaking them in a tub. I'm sure someone on here will know what to do!

It is heart breaking to think of 5 quilts your grandmother made stuffed away in an attic. Glad you rescued them!!!!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 2:06AM
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There's an interesting article here :
What an amazing find! I'm really looking forward to pics.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article about washing

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 3:13AM
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One of the cardinal rules of washing an old quilt in the machine is NEVER AGITATE it...place water in the tub, (I generally use Ivort flakes). place the quilt on top of the water and let it sink....do NOT allow it to agitate...THAT is what is damaging. Allow it to soak..then spin, taking a look at the water. Repeat this till the water is clear. I, personally don't put any my quilts in the drier, either. I have 4 lines in the laundry room, and I drape my quilt across all 4...this distributes the weight and doesn't case a strain on any one area. In the summer I lay it out on the grass or across a hedge, in the sunlight, backing side up.
If you'll post some pics of your quilts, it would be easier to figure out if washing would be safe to do.....

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:06AM
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Aaagh! Maybe your mother didn't know that wrapping quilts up in plastic and storing them down in the basement would be bad for them, but you'd think that she might have remembered the box of quilts at least ONCE during all those years they were in the basement. What a shame. I hope you can save them.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:55AM
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Plastic was the miracle stuff years ago. Better than all the 'old' stuff our grandparents used. She probably thought she was preserving them. I know I put a lot of photos in a 'magnetic' photo album - the kind where you lift the plastic to put the picture under it. Now the cling is gone and the picture tend to fall out. I have to replace those books when we get back home.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 9:08AM
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