Can This Quilt Be Saved? A 1920’s Applique Kit Quilt

This circa 1920’s quilt is from the F.A. Wurzburg (Grand Rapids, MI) “Formal Garden” kit. The quilt was made by an Illinois woman who sold it to the wife of a local businessman, and then passed through several hands via family and friends. A reproduction of this kit is sold by Sentimental Stitches.

The top is closely quilted across the entire surface; the number of stitches per inch is consistently nine. The applique stitches are less than 1/8th inch apart. Embroidery with DMC floss highlights the appliques.

The image below shows the entire pattern (sans the green border). I was practically hanging off the ceiling to get it all in, so please excuse the angle from which the picture was shot.


There are approximately 40 places were the appliques have begun to lift. Fortunately, there is very little fraying of the fabric. The lower right yellow flower in the center has rotted in one corner. I’ve chosen a close match out of my stash of vintage fabrics and will be aging it to make it blend as closely as possible with the surrounding material.
The background fabric is in more fragile condition than the applique material. There are numerous splits and tears in the fabric. The image above is an example of some of the worst areas.

Now here is something to which all quilters should pay close attention: the following images depict the kind of damage that will occur if a quilt is folded in the same way for years and years:

From the front, a suspicious shadow:

From the back, with a strong light shining through:
The batting has completely eroded away from the fold line. This is the reason it is recommended that quilts in storage should be refolded every few months, preferably with crumpled white sheets or acid-free tissue paper to cushion the folds.

Can this quilt be saved? Oh, yes, indeedy. And it will be a pleasure to work on it.

**The owner of this quilt has given me permission to post images and discuss my work on it.**

5 comments

  1. ooh that’s so not good – that migrating batting. okay, okay, I’ll never do that. Quilt still looks really good tho.

  2. It is a neat quilt, and sounds like you have a good plan for getting it back up to snuff. I don’t know anything about restoring quilts, but I was thinking that after you fixed everything, maybe a layer of some tulle or other transparent material all over the quilt would be good to protect the delicate fabric.

  3. Shelina,You’re correct — one approach to the damage to the background fabric is to simply stabilize it with crepeline (a very fine silk version of “tulle”) rather than to replace the fabric. On the spectrum from repair to conservation techniques, this is the more conservative approach.

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