Antique and Vintage Fabrics
Sometimes I find an old quilt that begs to be repaired. Since I enjoy giving old quilts new life, I buy antique or vintage fabrics to use for this type of a project. When repairing and restoring an antique quilt, it is important to use fabrics from the same era of the quilt that will be restored.
Using fabrics from the same era ensures authenticity for the quilt restoration. Equally important is the choice of fabric color and design. When the quilt repair has been completed, the repairs should not be obvious — the replacement fabrics should blend and not stand out.
When doing antique quilt repairs, it is necessary to have a good supply of antique fabrics. Having the correct fabrics is critical for quilt repairs and quilt restorations. Occasionally, I will be fortunate enough to locate a 1/2 or full yard of an antique cloth.
Most of the antique fabrics in my collection are leftover scraps or unused patchwork pieces. Other antique fabrics have been collected from patchwork blocks that have been given to me. When the patchwork has been disassembled, the pieces can be reused for a quilt repair. What a great way to recycle!
This full-sized foundation strippy quilt top was purchased because some of the fabrics used were from the 1880s. Examining all of the fabrics found in this quilt top, it is apparent that this quilt top was made in the post-Depression era (one fabric from that era is the pink floral cotton). This top will be disassembled so that the antique cottons can be used in another quilt.
Sewing the random patches onto a foundation fabric was a ‘double find’ for me, because the foundation pieces included large sections of cadet blue cottons and cotton shirtings. When I need these fabrics, I will disassemble the quilt top. Tedious work, but the patches are all large and pieced by hand, making the task much easier.
When working with a vintage era quilt from the 1920s or 1940s, the cotton fabrics used are different than the antique fabrics from the 1800s. Many quilts from the Depression era, or post-Depression era, are made with feed sacks. And some of the cotton fabrics are in color combinations that are not often found in today’s fabrics. Doing repairs or restorations on quilts from these eras creates a need to have cotton fabrics that were manufactured during that era. On occasion, I have been given quilt blocks so that the fabrics can be used in some manner. And sometimes I have found feedsacks that have not been cut — a great find for a vintage quilt repair.
Although antique and vintage era fabrics are more expensive than today’s fabrics, they are cottons from another era and are critical when restoring quilts. Even unused, these fabrics are rather special to me — they have been made before my time, in a different era.