A recent job involved mounting an (approximately) 80 year old quilt top, made by the grandmother of my client’s husband. It had somehow made it into an auction, was purchased by a woman who knew the family, and transferred back into family ownership.
The husband remembers his grandmother as always having a quilt top in progress. The family owns several of her completed quilts. This quilt top is clearly made from a scrap basket, but there is a great deal of organization in the arrangement of individual patches and blocks.
The fabric is too fragile to bear the stress of quilting, but the owner wanted to be able to give the top to her granddaughter as a quilt that could be laid on a bed or displayed over a rack. The solution was to mount the quilt, a method which creates less stress but gives the quilt a finished appearance and arrests the fraying that can occur as seam allowances rub against each other.
To do this, I used simple muslin as a backing and Quilter’s Dream Request for the batting. I turned the muslin to the front to form a self-binding and border that can be used to handle the quilt. Sewing from the back, I made pick stitches through the seam allowances to attach the top to the batt and backing. This leaves the surface of the top largely undisturbed. The self-binding/border was attached using invisible applique. (see below)
If you have a vintage top that you’d like to finish for display purposes, you should consider a mount. It’s much faster than quilting and less risky for old textiles.
Update: In response to Diana’s question in the comments, I’ve provided more detail on the stitch I used in making this mount in this post.