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The first one is this little coverlet which was appliqued and embroidered by my mother-in-law in 1934 as she awaited the birth of her first child.  Regrettably, the baby was not to be, and it wasn’t until 1943, when she and my father-in-law adopted my DH as an infant that this coverlet finally was put to the use for which it was intended. Unlike a quilt, this coverlet is just two layers of cotton with no batting in between. The blocks were machine pieced and the top was closed after turning with a simple running stitch.  For the past 70 years or so it has been folded up and hidden away in drawers.  DH and I came into possession of it about 25 years ago. And it promptly went right into a drawer where it has been ever since. Although it doesn’t show in the picture – in the bottom right hand corner, she signed it C.M.S. 1934.

I’m afraid it’s really showing its age.  The edges are yellowed, the sashing is really faded, there are some small holes in a couple of the squares and there are some stains that I don’t think can be removed.  But I would like to try to save it.  I’d welcome ideas if anyone has suggestions.  Should I take the coverlet apart and join the squares with new sashing?  Should I get some special soap and try to wash it?  Should I turn it into a wallhanging?  And if I go to all that trouble, would my DDiL even appreciate it?  Although it has sentimental value to our family, DDiL never met my mother-in-law so it wouldn’t have much meaning to her.  And the quality of the workmanship is pretty poor compared to what is available today.  I guess more to the point: is there any point in trying to save it or should I just fold it up and put in back in a drawer?  Input would be really appreciated.

It brings to mind the two quilts that my great grandmother made for my brother and me in the early 1950s.  These quilts were made with large nine patch squares, all hand stitched (no machine stitching anywhere).  These two quilts were staples on our beds when we were growing up, and as a result, they were washed many many times and by the time they were retired, were literally falling apart.  But my mother washed them one last time and saved them.  When mum passed away in 2008, my daughter and I were tasked with cleaning out her house and we came across the quilts.  I had completely forgotten about them.  We spread them out and looked at them very carefully, but as near as I could determine, they were really beyond repair. So many of the squares were falling apart, and a lot of the fabric was missing.  To my everlasting regret and my great shame, we delegated them to the ‘throw-away’ pile.  Perhaps that’s why I want to try to preserve the little coverlet. At least I did save the small, pure wool granny square afghan, a couple of crocheted doilies and this beautiful hand beaded purse (circa 1925) that my Great Grandmother hand crafted.

Now we come to the last item.  In 1951, when my parents were still married to each other – my father took a job one year on a fishing boat on the north coast of British Columbia.  This meant that he was away for several months at a time.  To occupy his time in the evenings, away from his family, he decided to do a pre-printed cross stitch picture.  When it was finished he had it framed behind glass.  When my parents divorced about 12 years later for some unknown reason my mother ended up with the picture.  She wasn’t particularly fond of it and refused to have it hanging on her walls, so it spent a lot of time propped up in a closet, but eventually the frame started to come apart so mum took the fabric and folded it up and put it away. Because it was behind glass, the fabric was, to some extent, preserved, and it stayed clean, Enter me, about 10 years ago, desperate for something for my brother, who seems to have everything, for Christmas.  I took the cross stitch and ‘framed’ it with fabric and proudly presented it to my brother.  He was delighted to get it – something very special that his dad made. He has it hanging for everyone to see and he’s so proud of it. “My dad did that” he tells his visitors. (and hopefully he tells them his sister put the fabric frame around it). 


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Comment by June Johnson/Wi on April 28, 2015 at 6:59pm

What beautiful treasures you have.  Just one more suggestion to add to the many you have.  I would add a border and use it as a wall hanging to be passed onto others who might appreciate it.  You could add batting and stitch in the ditch to hold all layers together.

Comment by LKC on April 28, 2015 at 2:13pm

I worked over one baby quilt I had 1930, for all the striped fabric became dust bunnies. I used retro fabric and hand sewed each bad block. It worked. I have had it now for 30 years. I need to redo the quilt I made in  1957-1960. It is falling apart. I am going to back it with light weight fabric and make flowers by hand in all the holes, but it is one I made. I am going to give it to my niece, for her mother's clothes- scrapes were used too.  My mother was going to make two, but never had the time. So you see what you do it still part of family thing and you could write a note to how you made it stay together for the next 30 years.

Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on April 28, 2015 at 11:18am

That's beautiful.  I love red work.  I've really enjoyed reading about your 'finds'.  You're so lucky to have access to so many sources of vintage linens.  My small town is pretty much a bust.  I need to start checking out Value Villages and Salvation Army Thrift stores when I'm on holidays.  I've had good luck at Value Village on occasion.  Found a beautiful afghan that was in new condition several years ago - and even found a sheared beaver coat in perfect condition (to make fur bears with) one year.  But so far, I've never found a quilt.  Someday!

Comment by Pam/NY on April 28, 2015 at 11:09am

I used the Irish Chain pattern to separate the blocks in this reconstructed red work block quilt.

Comment by Pam/NY on April 28, 2015 at 11:04am

No, they're not appliqued...thought they needed to be highlighted so did the blanket stitch around them.

Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on April 28, 2015 at 9:49am

Pam, I looked closely at your posted quilt - did you applique the squares onto the new quilt?  I can see blanket stitch around the centre squares.  I really like what you've done with it.

Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on April 28, 2015 at 9:47am

Great suggestions ladies!  I knew Pam would have ideas - I'm very tempted to take it apart and incorporate the squares into a new quilt.  I don't think the quilt has any 'antique' value, so there's really no point in trying to keep it intact.  But if I make a new quilt from the old, it will have value to our family and that's really what I'm trying to achieve.  Thanks everyone.

Comment by Pam/NY on April 28, 2015 at 5:45am

I'm having trouble posting...the purse is beautiful and what a treasure!

You definitely added a lot to your father's picture. Great keepsake and glad your brother appreciates it.

Comment by Pam/NY on April 28, 2015 at 5:40am

Stipple it overall to help strengthen the quilt and the stitching. It does lose it's value, but that's not what you want from this. You want to preserve her history in the family. Someone will think it's worth it. If, storing use acid free tissue paper!

Comment by Pam/NY on April 28, 2015 at 5:37am

I use Retro Clean and Retro wash (Amazon) to remove yellowing and most stains. But, this fabric may be to fragile...I'd soak it in Dawn and then use a q-tip with diluted peroxide/water solution to spot clean the spots. Jodi is right about the sun helping after this process.

I think you should take it apart and use new fabric to restore her work on the blocks. This is an example of one I did with blocks from the 30's

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