socks12345

Fixing up an old quilt

socks
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

This quilt is a bit wonky and homely, but it was made by my grandmother decades ago of wool scraps. The flannel backing fell off over time, but I added the new border. I would like to finish it off with batting and backing the easiest way possible.

Would it be possible to layer the top, batting, backing together in such a way that I can sew around 3 sides, then turn the whole thing right side out and just close up that last edge? Or would I just make a big mess? I know I'd still have to tie or quilt a bit to make it all hang together.



Comments (37)

  • loisflan
    2 months ago

    I believe that method is called "birthing" a quilt. I've never done it, but I'm sure there are instructions on-line. Good luck. It will be a treasure.

    socks thanked loisflan
  • stacey_mb
    2 months ago

    I don't have any advice, but you're very lucky to have such an heirloom. All the best with the restoration.

    socks thanked stacey_mb
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  • maifleur03
    2 months ago

    Depending on how old it is my question would be is how stable is the fabric since it sounds like you intend to use it. My mother repaired my husband's great grandmother's quilt because he mentioned he would like to use it. First use several of the fabric pieces separated.

    Since you want to turn it right side up without sewing the batting onto the back piece there is no easy way to do that. Even tying the batting must lie in a smooth sheet and turning will probably cause it to bunch or even tear. That is assuming you are using what my mom called 'sheet batting'. However you could stitch it onto a duvet top then use a blanket or comfort on the inside.

    socks thanked maifleur03
  • socks
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Thank you, Lois. I found some good videos on youtube. It's also called the envelope or pillow case method.

    Maifleur, most of the top is still sturdy, but a few blocks have thinned. Mostly I'm concerned about how rumpled it is.

    I'll have to think about this a bit.

  • glenda_al
    2 months ago

    Have my great grandmother's quilt. It's a bit tattered so I just keep it folded at the end of the bed for foot warmth. Will pass on to son and let him decide what to do with it.

    socks thanked glenda_al
  • skibby (zone 4 Vermont)
    2 months ago

    It's just lovely!

    socks thanked skibby (zone 4 Vermont)
  • geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
    2 months ago

    Socks, If you use the birthing method, lay the quilt on top of whatever you plan to use as batting as smoothly as possible and use a lot of safety pins to hold them together, staying away from the very edges. Trim the batting to the edge of the quilt then pin the right sides of the top and backing together. Again making it as smooth as you can. I doubt you'll have a square quilt, but you might be able to ease in the fabric on the edges and not have very many puckers. Don't forget to leave a space for turning when you sew them all together. Remove the pins that are holding it all together, birth, use the pins holding top and batting to include the backing to continue holding the fabric as smoothly as possible. I would sew around the edges and either tack with machine (zig-zag in place) or tie it. I think quilting this one would ruin the looks of it. I hope this helps. You have a treasure.

  • socks
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Geezerfolks, you are so kind to give these helpful directions. I think I will do it. I have to order the flannel and cotton batting online. I seem to remember the backing as a red plaid, so maybe I'll look for something like that. The quilt has been tied, and some of the holes are still visible, so I'll do that (not quilting). After birthing, I'd like to sew around the edges maybe 3/4" in to give the impression of a border. Thank you. You inspired me.

  • whistle_b
    2 months ago

    Do you have a quilt guild in your area? They might have some suggestions. At any rate, I'll bet they would like to see the quilt.

    socks thanked whistle_b
  • jemdandy
    2 months ago

    My mother was a self taught quilter. She learned quilting from her mother in the period of 1910 - 1915 in Oklahoma. Her parents were from Missouri who after the Civil War moved to Arkansas. Her quilting background reaches back to pioneers in Tennessee. I don't know of any easy way to do what you want. A conventional quilt is constructed of 3 layers: Backing, batting or other fillers such as goose down, and the patterned top. She always did the 'quilting' by hand using a quilting frame. The quilting is stitching that passes through all 3 layers and stabilizes the quilt.

    I'm not sure how your piece was made, but you mentioned that the flannel backing had gone away. If this was a 3 layer quilt, then the batting was gone also. However, this may have been a 2 layer quilt with only backing and top. it would have gotten its warmth from the wool top plus a thick flannel back.

    The rebuild assuming a 2 layer quilt:

    First, examine the wool for moth damage. If you find more than a few moth holes, it may be a lost cause. If you find moth holes, there could be other weakened spots that haven't holed yet, but will with use.

    If the wool top is in good shape, proceed. Choose the backing fabric. This can't be just a sheet since the backing will be part of the warmth package, however, the under layer should not have 'tooth' as it causes the quilt to stick to a person when he/she rolls over. That's a problem with flannel. Its 'grabby'. You could layer a sheet-like material with the flannel. These can be temporally basted together. Make the backing a little larger than the quilt. It will be trimmed to size after quilting.

    At this point, the parts would be laid out in the floor and rolled up on the quilting frame poles, but this is a long winter project lasting 2 months or more. You said, you wanted it easier.

    Lay the parts out and baste stitch everything together. Use enough basting to keep the parts secure as you'll be wading the quilt while machine stitching.

    Machine quilt all the parts together. Use a fairly long stitch, maybe 6 or more stitches to the inch. Experiment on scrap to find the proper length. Now, you are ready to quilt. Machine stitch the entire quilt. I suggest to start in the middle of the quilt and work outward. Do what is best for you.

    After quitting, trim the backing to match the top. Border the quilt with a nice satiny feel edging material. The border can be wide, maybe 2 to 3 inches on both sides. Fold the border material over the edge and pin making sure that the top and bottom edges match. Machine sew together. Remove basting stitches and done.

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  • hallngarden
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Socks, you have been given great advice for your quilt. I have quilts that were made in 1900 , use and display all of them. Happy you are restoring. Restoration to mine was a blessing to me. Our state museum came to our town to register old quilts as in the boom days it had been a farming and textile town. Lots of feed sack materials and local textile materials used in quilts. Museum registered each quilt and offered a free service of quilters to work with me , if interested, to stabilize. Mother and I worked many happy hours with these ladies and also gentlemen making small repairs . I look at the hand quilting and think about the hands making those beautiful stitches. If you have any issues with yours, you will be amazed how many quilters would be so happy to help you. Our little church ladies that range from 80 to one 103 enjoy helping each other on our quilts.

    socks thanked hallngarden
  • socks
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I remember removing the falling-apart flannel from the back when I put on the border, but I do not recall any batting. I guess I could skip batting (which would just be cotton), but I was thinking it might help stabilize the top as I tie the quilt.

    The quilt I s probably not as old as some of you may think. Maybe from 1950. That would be 70 years. I don’t think anyone would make a quilt out of wool these days. I put the top over my feet for a nap. It was nice and warm! (Like Glenda.)

  • bkay2000
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    In my humble opinion (I'm not a really experienced quilter), the batting will not help stabilize the quilt. The only way it would help is if you use something that won't shift. Generally speaking, a 100% cotton batting will have to be quilted, not tied. The battings that will more stable are the 80/20 battings. They are 80% cotton on a polyester scrim. They still have to be quilted/tied at a minimum 10" between stitching (in all directions). Types of "batting" that will not shift include things like the top of a mattress pad, a polyester blanket for something that won't stretch.

    Many quilts have no batting. They are generally referred to as "summer quilts". They just have the top and backing. On quilts that are used as "summer quilts", generally have just at pieced top and a cotton backing. Often, even winter quilts have just a flannel backing or these days, maybe minky or fleece. I am not suggesting either minky or fleece as I understand they are hard to sew.

    It almost sounds like your quilt had no batting, as you say you don't remember removing any batting. Maybe just a flannel backing would be your best choice. As Sharon said, be sure to wash and machine dry your flannel at least once, as it will shrink. Some folks suggest washing twice.

    Good luck.

    bkay

    socks thanked bkay2000
  • Helen Yang
    last month

    Thanks for your design idea. I'm going to clone it 😍

  • wednesday morning
    last month

    This looks just like the kinds of things that my mom used to make , circa 1970s. She was so fond of sewing squares together.

    What I would suggest you do with it is to lay it atop a backing fabric , wrong sides together and quilt it as closely as possible. I suggest a method of adhering the two layers together by doing a stitching more akin to the Japanese style of shashiko. Look it up if you are not familiar with it. It is a method that employees large, visible running stitches that actually become part of the art and design.

    Give it a google. It would adhere the top to the backing very nicely and give it stability. Plus, you would be adding some of you own work and inspiration to a piece made by your grandmother and giving it a totally new and update touch. You could use multiple colors of embroidery threads. And, why not. The piece does. not have any real color scheme.

    Then cut and trim it to the size and shape you want by treating and cutting both the top and the backing as if they were one Then, bind the edges by whatever you like

    I would not try to add batting and make it back into that kind of a quilt. That is over kill. Just reenforcing and stablizing the pieced top is about all you can really expect. And if you can add a touch of the modern or some added serendipity to it, that would be even better.

    I am guessing that your grandmother was about the same generation as was my mother.


    Those look like the kinds of wool scraps that were around 60s/70s. Lots of those old pegged wool skirts were finding their way into the scrap bag about that time.

    My mom sewed countless squares of all kinds together. She was one who never wasted a bit of anything, almost to a fault. She got immense satisfaction from doing that and she passed down to me that same thrifty pursuit.


    I was cleaning out the attic yesterday and came across a bin of wool rugs that I had crocheted as spiral rugs, many decades ago. I still have about half a dozen. Husband asks what am I going to do with them. My answer is that I want them gone.

    My mom and all of her sisters did this because it was their legacy of values that they inherited from generations of folks who had no choice but to use any and every thing that they had.

    Hubs ask me why do I want to get rid of something that I put such time in to and my answer is that I wish I had never wasted my time and my life in the first place to do something as pointlessly laborious as cutting up old clothes and crocheting them into something that no one needs.

    I made many, many of these rugs from old clothes. Not all of them were wool, but the ones that remain are. They are so old fashioned, they shed fibers and they are so hard to keep clean or to wash. Maybe back in the times when that was all they had, it was fine. But, I wish that I had used my time to do something other than cobble scraps together. What a false sense of accomplishment!

    He said that I sound bitter. I guess I am and do have regrets and feel as if I was foolish to waste my time with something that no one really needed or wanted. I did too much of that in my life and wish that I had done something else like go to university and become someone who builds buildings or designs cities. Instead, I was cutting up old skirts and making them in to rugs that still sit unused in my attic. Regrets, yes. I really wanted to build cities and do innovative things to make our lives better by better construction and better practices.

    I wish my parents had insisted that I go to college. I had no idea that was even as option for me. Life was different back in those days and it was difficult to rise above our working class view of the world, both hubs and I. Our stories are much alike. Neither of us had any vision of where we could go or what we could do. So, we found each other and went out into the world together at a very, very young age. I am wiser now, but it is too late.


    So, now I have half a dozen of them sitting here all folded up and nowhere to go. My sad legacy! Yes, I am bitter. I could have been an architect , or a designer of wonderful things! But, there I was, cutting up old clothes. Why? I don't know why.

    socks thanked wednesday morning
  • socks
    Original Author
    last month

    Wednesday, your post touched my heart. Truly, you are beating yourself up too much! At the time, making those rugs fulfilled something in you. That kind of work and focus is satisfying and calming. I started college but got side-tracked on a 2-year volunteer project and never went back to school, unfortunately. No parent or counselor encouraged me to finish college, but not their fault, mine. Yes, it was a missed opportunity for both of us, but other good things happened in my life, and I hope the same for you. Please don't be bitter or angry with yourself. Hindsight is 20/20, and you did what you thought was right at the time. Please be at peace with that.


    While waiting from the flannel backing to come, I started a scrap quilt. Cutting up perfectly good fabric and spending hours and hours sewing it back together again. Kinda like making rugs, right?


    Are the rugs small enough that a dog rescue could use them? Sometimes those dog runs are just cold, hard cement.


    As for my project, thank you for the comments and suggestions. Shashiko is a lovely idea but I don't have the skill, patience, yarn, etc.! I will just tie it, and I agree, no batting. The flannel backing came, but I'm disappointed in it. Not that soft and heavier than I expected. On one hand I tell myself, "just use it." But maybe not. I'll just order some lighter flannel from Joanns.

  • adellabedella_usa
    last month

    Wednesday Morning, I also think you are beating yourself up way too much. It's not wasted time if you enjoyed it.


    Are those rugs still good? I bet there are a lot of people out there who would love to own them. Crafting has changed in some ways over the years, but go look out on places like Pinterest and Etsy. There are plenty of people who are still interested and love hand crafted items.

    socks thanked adellabedella_usa
  • maifleur03
    last month

    Wednesday Morning I at least understand why you look at those rugs and think of them as failures in your life. While it is probably too late for you to attend architect school that does not mean that you can not learn through books what is needed to build things. If you are able and can find a school or organization for young people that will allow it simply speaking up about the expectations of women and others during your life could make a difference in some person's life. Actually it would not need to be young people because as seen on here older people do not have any idea how other people actually lived both good and bad.

    socks thanked maifleur03
  • wednesday morning
    last month

    No, I just let flow through my life and on out. But since he asked, he got an earful of it.

    It was some crazy notion that all of life is hard scrabble. I left home as soon as I could to reject that pattern of life, but there I was cutting up old clothes.

    We have been fleeing our working class roots for all our adult lives and tried to give our own kids a leg up on that. Neither of my kids has spent time cutting up old clothes. They both got educations and careers. We made sure of that.

    I'll probably just put them back in some bucket in the attic and let the kids decide what to do with them.

    One is a rug that I take out for the holidays since it has all the right colors. but, it only gets used where it wont get much foot traffic.

    I admire thrift and innovation and have exercised plenty of it.

    I even tried making pieced rugs from wool squares. That was not a success. It never laid flat and got way too dirty too fast.

    These rugs are crocheted with one of those huge wooden hooks.

    When my mom died, my sister ended up with really huge wound up balls of strips of old clothes that my mom had rendered into "yarn". . She does not know what to do with them.



    socks thanked wednesday morning
  • lemonbasil
    last month

    Okay, this post is drifting a little off topic with the rag rugs - last year I used / recycled old bedsheets I had no use for anymore into strips and left over larger quilt fabrics into strips. Crocheted a few lovely rag rugs to go under my rocking chair, heavy furniture to protect the floor, bedside area rug. They are charming. I'm sorry you feel so bitter - if you do, I agree to donate them and let them go. Free yourself of painful memories and let someone else find pleasure in them. Says the girl who recently tossed a bad sewing project in the fire.....

    socks thanked lemonbasil
  • socks
    Original Author
    last month

    I don't mind going off topic at all! We're chatting, right?

    My mother used to make braided wool rugs. She used some little silver triangle devices, I remember. I have no idea where all the wool came from. I wonder if the quilt my grandmother made was from wool rug leftovers.

  • socks
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I got the back on. Just need to tie it. My work is a little sloppy and the border rippley, but at least it’s not an unfinished quilt top any more.



  • hallngarden
    last month

    socks, I love it. I have a huge appreciation for quilts as I think about the hands that made them. Love the backing. You are doing a great job with restoration.

    socks thanked hallngarden
  • socks
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you for those words. Yes, I think about my grandmother and how her hands put the quilt together so long ago. Certainly she never dreamed that her granddaughter, now an old lady myself, would be working on the quilt.

  • msmeow
    last month

    It looks nice! I like your backing, too.

    My mom passed away four years ago and I’ve been working on finishing her quilting projects. I’ve donated most of them when I finish, and it makes me happy sending her quilts out into the world.

    Donna

    socks thanked msmeow
  • bkay2000
    last month

    It looks good. Glad you tackled this heirloom. Having a piece of our ancestors seems to give us comfort.


    bkay

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  • loisflan
    last month

    "Certainly she never dreamed that her granddaughter, now an old lady myself, would be working on the quilt." Socks, these words of yours brought tears to my eyes. Time goes by so quickly, and it's comforting to know that our work might live on after we're gone.

    socks thanked loisflan
  • geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
    last month

    I think it looks really nice, Socks, and it isn't as ripply as in the beginning. You did a really really good job on it. One more thing you might consider doing is making a label and put some info and dates on it so if you aren't around, it can be kept in the family and not tossed to the thrift store.

    socks thanked geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
  • patriciae_gw
    last month

    I think you have done a great job. I thought about mentioning this before but did not. The reason your quilt has done what it has is the differential felting or shrinking of the various wools when it was washed. Wool does not shrink evenly depending on the fleece the fabric was made from. Even before modern wool treatments to keep it from felting some wool does not felt as well as others. I used to have a crocheted throw that did this.

    socks thanked patriciae_gw
  • socks
    Original Author
    29 days ago

    You are right, Patriciae. It’s been through the wash any number of times, probably even the dryer. Some of those fabrics are thick like they were on a coat, some are paper thin, and who knows what these fabrics were in a previous life. But they react differently, as you said.


    Thanks everyone!

  • Rosefolly
    29 days ago

    Nice job! I agree that tying is a better solution than quilting at this point. If you tie generously there won't be much shifting.

    Never heard of birthing a quilt. I would probably have called it "bagging", due to its resemblance to bagging a lining in garment sewing.

    socks thanked Rosefolly
  • geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
    29 days ago

    Rosefolly, I first hear the term 'birthing' from Eleanor Burns many many years ago when she demonstrated how it's done. Yup, birthing. Pushing a big wad of fabric through a small opening.......similar to birthing a child. Could bagging be the term used for doing a specific technique on a garment? I've made a lot of garments, including a few suits for my husband, but have never heard that term. I supposed it's probably just the terminology of what we get used to using.

    socks thanked geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
  • socks
    Original Author
    29 days ago
    last modified: 29 days ago

    Geezerfolks, you took me down Memory Lane mentioning Eleanor Burns. My mother and I started quilting decades ago with her Quilt in a Day/Log Cabin instruction book. The way she laid out how to do it was clever and the directions were excellent.

    I think it's also called the pillowcase method, when you sew around a quilt and then turn it. I did it on another quilt recently. After turning I sewed around the edge about 1" in to give a more finished look. Works for me!

  • hallngarden
    29 days ago

    Now you have my attention again. Eleanor Burns program taught me so much about quilting. I totally forgot I did the birthing method on a quilt I made for my son years ago. Also learned a method from her to make a very easy quilt block. I love quilting and spent many hours as my favorite hobby. My family has always loved and displayed my quilts. Hopefully my 12 year old granddaughter will continue the tradition. She and I made my last quilt together.

    socks thanked hallngarden
  • geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
    29 days ago

    EB was instrumental in helping me to realize I can do my own thing and it's ok. She had techniques that made things easier for me and I have quite a few of her pattern books.......all these 40 years later. Since I found Bonnie Hunter, I've learned some easier ways to make blocks and rulers that help make it possible. I'm thankful for all the quilters who have freely shared their techniques, talents, and patterns, through their blogs and videos.

    socks thanked geezerfolks_SharonG_FL
  • socks
    Original Author
    29 days ago

    Eleanor Burns is still involved in quilting. You can see her videos on youtube.

    This is horrible to think about, but the first quilt I made was by cutting individual squares and sewing them together. No strips, no rotary cutter, no cutting board. I suppose the pioneers did this since they were often cutting up old clothing, etc.