Monday, March 21, 2011

Quilting a Vintage Quilt Top-Answers to an email question

Braided Border Quilt Top

I received this email last weekend & thought it would be great to open the discussion to all our readers.  My comments are in red.

I recently acquired a vintage quilt top that the seller claimed to be from the 50's. I'm not an experienced quilter, this will be my first at best.

I hope you don't mind that I'm asking you a few questions,… and really would like to finish it, because it really is a beautiful piece of work and I'm in love with it.

Due to my inexperience, I have no idea how to handle vintage material. It's not tattered or anything, seems like it's still in pretty good shape - except for a few tears here and there which I plan so sew by hand. 

Here are a few of my questions:

1. What soap do I wash it with? I would recommend not washing it until you have completed the quilting & binding.  If you wash the exposed raw edges, the fabric will fray and distort the quilt top.

2. It is safe to dry it in the dryer? Low heat?  Once it is quilted, you should be able to dry it in the dryer on low heat.

3. How do I attach the backing? Do I just sew along the sides with a machine?  There are several options on how to quilt (attach the quilt top, batting & backing together).  You can tie/tack with floss or yarn, you can take the quilt top to a professional long-arm quilter, or you can hand quilt.  Once the layers are quilted, the outside edge will need to be bound.  Your long arm quilter may do this for you, or you can see my tutorial to do this yourself.

4. Hand-tying/tacking - necessary to attach the quilt top to the backing? See #3

5. Measurement in 62x78 inches - how much fabric would I need for the backing? approximately 5.5 yards of 44/45” wide fabric; you will have to piece the backing.  You can also purchase 90” wide backing by the yard & just purchase 1.75-2 yards. 

6. Where do I start? I think that maybe start with the decision of how you want the quilt to look when it is done.  Do you want a tacked quilt or a quilt that has the layers sewn together?  How much do you want to do yourself versus outsource (MANY quilters outsource the quilting side of quilting, so this is commonplace)?  If you want to do it yourself, I would recommend checking with a local quilt shop in your area & ask about classes.  They could also recommend long arm quilters if you want to go that route.  To learn more online about the quilting process, here are a few links to check out:

It is my hope that others will chime in with other tips & thoughts for you!

Best wishes for straight stitches!




FabricsNQuilts said...

Just an added posts without pictures are boring....I didn't have a pic of her vintage quilt to share, so I shared a pic of a top I made last year (or so). Didn't want to throw anyone off with the non-vintage fabrics!

Barb said...

That is so awesome that you are able to help someone work on a vintage quilt...see what an inpiration!!