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Monday, August 08, 2011

Auntie Irene’s Legacy ---

My mom’s mom, my grandmother, was named Verna, and her sister was Irene. Verna and Irene were the daughters of Great Grandma Manuel, and growing up her picture had a prominent place in our home. We simply knew mom's grandma, my great-grandma Manuel as the “White haired lady”. I vaguely remember her from when I was VERY little…..

I only remember meeting Auntie Irene a few times growing up, but once, when my boys were small, She and her daughter Carol ((Mom’s other cousin)) made a visit out to Idaho and I got to know her a lot better then. As Grandma's sister, she was so much like my Grandmother in so many ways, and Grandma had passed away years before.


Auntie Irene was always busy with needlework of some kind. She quilted, she crocheted, she embroidered, she sewed. It’s the way things were always done. Never an idle hand to be seen.

Auntie Irene was married in 1938, and her sewing and handcrafting continued through her life! After her passing, her handworks were distributed amongst family members. Finally, what was “unclaimed” came to reside at Auntie Joy’s house, and I was told that I could “have my pick” of what was left. What treasures were to be found?!

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1930’s butterflies on muslin feedsacks! We believe that the butterflies were embroidered early on in Auntie Irene’s married life, and then set aside until later in her life when she decided to put them together with 1970s calico. The calico is a poly blend, as getting 100% cotton in the 70s was pretty much limited. I’d like to take these apart and re-set them, but at the same time, I know that Auntie Irene did these….so I’m hemming and hawwing on whether to take them apart, or leave them as is as quilt it.

It really REALLY needs washing. It is so smoky from years of living in a smokers home that I can hardly stand to have it in the same room right now. It’s airing out in the garage. And that adds to the dilemma. I don’t want to wash it and have the seams shred. It may be airing out for a LONG TIME! But I just love to see her hand stitches on these cute butterflies!

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I love this orange one! Can you see the cute french knot eyes? There is some yellow staining on the muslin, but that doesn’t bother me as much as the smell.

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I love this purple print too! Several of the prints are ones that I recognize as being “reproductions” more recently, but these are definitely the real deal!

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I love this sweet print too! I can’t believe that no one wanted this top --- but then --- how many would have known how to finish it?

So what do you think I should do? Wash it or not? Quilt it as is? Take it apart, re-set it, quilt it, THEN wash it? Give me your thoughts!

Dear Auntie Irene ---

I am so HAPPY to have part of your quilting legacy live on to brighten my home! I cherish the memories we’ve made over the years, I’ll forever remember you smiling and laughing and think of how you were always so cheerful to be around!

I’ll remember how even at 90 you were often found dancing alone in your living room or kitchen just because your feet couldn’t stand still with that kind of music playing! ((There is a life lesson in that! NEVER STOP DANCING!))

I’ll always remember the time I brought my boys out to meet you at the orchard in Eagle, Idaho --- when we were there to pick peaches and apricots and have a picnic! There were no forks for the potato salad, and you said, never fear! And we all found forked twigs to eat our lunch with. These memories are so special to me!

I love holding the work of your hands in my own hands…and forever in my heart!

Love,

61 comments:

Impera_Magna said...

If this lovely butterfly quilt top was mine... I'd take the red and gold poly-cotton borders off. Then soak the butterfly squares in Woolite or a quilter's soap... rinse and repeat til the smell is gone.

Yes, I know your aunt put the borders on but they just do not do justice to the butterflies.

Just my 2 cents...

Quiltin' Jenny said...

Bonnie, I am forwarding this link to my friend who had a quilt top of her mom's or grandmom's that looks to be almost identical. I cannot remember exactly what she did with it, but I know she preserved the top and then also made a duplicate to love and use in her home. Hopefully she'll come back here and leave a comment.

The only tip I know of is from a friend who used to pre-wash her batting (!!!). She would lay it in a bathtub of cool water with Ivory Snow flakes, gently agitate and rinse it, and then lay it outside on a table (over towels) to air dry. I cannot imagine that kind of work for batting, but it might help the smell with this treasure.

Good luck!

Leena said...

Hi Bonnie! How about FIRST quilting it (if you can stand the smell for so long), THEN washing the finished quilt? The seams might take the wash better that way. I think you should keep the top as it is, being made by your aunt. After all, the top looks nice! That´s what I might do.

cityquilter said...

i agree with above, perhaps a gentle soak will not harm it. plenty of quilt soaps available for such an heirloom i think

Sue said...

I would just air it out. I washed blocks my grandmother had made and wished I hadn't! I should have finished them into a quilt and let the finished quilt absorb the surprizes as texture.

Sue said...

I like the red and yellow borders, it is bright and cheerful. Tells something about the quilter that made it.

Janet O. said...

Will it always bother you to see those 70s poly/cottons with your Auntie's beautiful butterflies? Do you think she would understand you wanting to do justice to her beautiful handwork? I don't cringe at the idea of a beautiful multi-generational quilt. I think you would be honoring her legacy.
Also, I am on my way to take entries at the county fair today and tomorrow. We have had quilts come in that reeked of smoke and we knew we couldn't put them in the enclosed cases with other quilts or they would all smell that way. An overnight airing and lots of Febreze helped, but I would lean toward a gentle soaking.

Cathy Tomm said...

The Name Manuel. Is it from New Found Land here in Canada. My maiden name is Manuel my grandfather was born in Exploits New Found Land. Ruth McDowell has a Grandmother Manuel (moved to Boston some time back) and we are related but very far back.
Love the butterflies.

Nane said...

Yep I would give this a soak in the bathtub, then roll up gently between towels. If its not agitated it shouldn't fray the seams too much if at all. You can always then press with some of that great smelling starch like Lilac!

sewkalico said...

They are lovely butterflies!! Although on the one hand I would say, love it and quilt it as it is (except the smoke bit), on the other hand, if you did decide to re-piece it, you would spend the whole time thinking of your Aunt. I know when I do things that remind me of people then they are constantly in my thoughts while I do it... Not a bad thing, surely.

debbie said...

I would leave the borders just as they are. The bright colors are part of who your great aunt...who danced at 90+... is and was. The quilt I recieved from my grandma was not the one that she had put my name on. That didn't make me happy, but I am so blessed to have something made by her. The background is Peach...most likely my least favorite color. The one that had my nametag on it was a completely scrap log cabin. There is no doubt which one I would rather have, but it's not worth a family arguement.
I would talk to a conservationist and ask their opinion as to the washing. Personally I would consider soaking in the tub as sugested above. There is special soap for quilts.
Another suggestion for the odor would be febreeze. I don't use it at all, and am not sure if it would be recomended for this purpose.
I would quilt it just as it is if the professional recomendation was to not wash it first, or if after the first attempt all of the odor did not come out. It would at least get most of the surface dirt out before quilting. Then being more stable, it would be less likely to be damaged by washing...which I would still do in the tub, or by soaking in the washer and spinning, but not allowing any agitation.

Let us know how sucessful you are at removing the odor. I recently purchased fabric at a local quilt show, put on by a guild. It was in the "yard sale" or "attic", where members can sell stuff. I did not notice at the time, but it also smells heavily of smoke. It is not old fabric. I have washed it with oxyclean, and washing soda, in with the laundry detergent. I thought I had the odor out. Last week I pulled one of the fabrics (which are not stored with the rest of my fabric) to use in a baby quilt and it still has a slight odor. I will be quite interested in hearing how you solve your situation. I have never had so much trouble getting cigarette smoke odor out of anything before...and I was a smoker for nearly 20 years and have not been for nearly another 20.

Debbie P said...

I have the same problem with some quilts I have been given. 1 from the 1920's. all from family of previous generations and all that I cherish. So I am interested in what others have to say.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Southwestern Idaho, near Eagle. So, I have memories of of orchards and picnics with my Aunts and Uncles and Great Aunts and Uncles. (Although the orchards we went to were in Homedale.) I lean toward keeping the red and yellow calico fabric on the quilt and washing it. The question I would ask is what brings you the best memories of your aunt? The whole quilt, polyester and all? Or just the hand appliqued blocks? However you finish it, you will still be honoring her legacy.

Mary said...

Did you just acquire this quilt top on your last trip to Minnesota? What a great bunch of Butterflies! The real 30's fabrics would look best with their own re-pros. Hope the smoky smell comes out so you can enjoy this quilt. I have family in Eagle Idaho too.

Vesuviusmama said...

What a dilemma! I think I would soak to remove the odors and then quilt it as it. Whatever you do, how wonderful to have that legacy.

Little Penpen said...

What a treasure!! I, too, find it hard to believe that no one wanted this quilt. That means the others must have been FANTASTIC! I have no advice for you, but can't wait to see what you decide!

Loretta said...

I vote for leaving the borders as they are. I agree with the above commenter who said they are cheery. For whatever reason, your Auntie chose them and they are as much a part of her as the butterflies.

I've used Febreze to spritz the fabric with while airing out a quilt top someone sent me to quilt.

Loris said...

Hi Bonnie, I have gotten smoky smell out of quilts by sticking them in a sealed plastic bag with a bar of soap and letting them set a few days. These quilts hadn't been sitting for decades but it might be a start. Hope the cleaning of it works somehow. It is a sweet quilt and lovely memories to go with it.

laquaqltr said...

When my mom passed each of her children got a quilt made by her, I was the only one that did not get a completed quilt. I took a top she had wanted to make and tried to finish it. It was a dahlia and the centre was not good. So I had to take it apart and start over. Sometimes you have to make the work a team effort. If YOU need to change some stuff change it cause that will make you enjoy her quilt all the more. If you can live with it then do so.
Watching the Today show a year or so ago and they talked of third hand smoke which is the residue left on items by smokers can leach into our skin and lungs, so it would be your decision to wash it or not, but hand washing very gently sounds the best solution.

Tressa said...

Put some vanilla extract on some cotton balls and place near the quilt. The vanilla is a natural odor absorber. I've used this way to absorb lots of unpleasant odors (though never smoke) and if you don't mind vanilla then maybe it's worth a try.

Karin said...

I think the lovely prints of the butterflies are overpowered by the poly/cotton borders. I would reset those adorable blocks in reproduction fabrics - maybe adding some cornerstones? I think that your Aunt would totally understand and approve :)

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Mary Hunt of debtproofliving.com always recommends a product called Nok-Out for removing odor. In fact, she once used it to get rid of that musty odor that some Featherweights have. I have never had to use it, but it is supposed to be biodegradable, non-toxic, and hypoallertenic.

I really can't say whether you should replace those poly blend borders or not, but I would definitely not wash an unquilted top.

About those butterflies, I've always been curious when I see a quilt like this: are those butterflies raw edge, or did they turn the edges under before doing the button hole stitch? I would love to make one of these because I have quite a large stash of 30s repros.

--C.B.

Anonymous said...

I think you should leave the quilt as made. it"s your Aunt's work.
<3 judi

mtquilter said...

I don't know if this is kosher to do to a quilt top but Febreeze works great for getting smells out of fabrics and you wouldn't have the fraying issue. Let us know what you try and how it worked. So great to have relatives that quilted and have things to pass down!

Anonymous said...

I think I would take the quilt apart and gently wash the butterfly blocks with Orvus and cold water. I used Orvus and cold water to wash some fabric that had a strong tobacco scent. The fabric was dripped dry...not put in a dryer. That did take away the tobacco scent. Because you like to shop the antique shops, thrift stores, etc. I'm sure you have fabrics that would make beautiful settings/sashings for the blocks.

Anonymous said...

The setting fabrics are red and cheddar! How perfect is that?!?

I agree with leaving them as is. As others have said, they say something about your aunt's vibrant personality. They say something about the journey that quilting as an artform has been on during the 20th century. They prove that even the most dedicated, life-long handcrafters have UFO's that evolve over time. It's all part of the life story of this lovely quilt, and changing the setting fabrics would be like ripping chapters out of a biography. It would be different if they were structurally unsound, but if they're no more delicate than the vintage muslin, then I'd leave them if it was mine.

Congrats on inheriting this lovely piece of family history. What a treasure!

Leah Shannon

Beth in TN said...

I'd take the quilt apart and hand wash the blocks in a detergent made to get scent out--something with baking soda, perhaps? I would also use a stabilizer with them or re-set them somehow. That white muslin (?) looks prone to tearing. If you split them up, you could make two baby-size quilts to hand down to other family members.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first post that the borders do not do justice to the beautiful butterflies. I just read yesterday about using vinegar and something else to get out smoke smells; I'll see if I can find it.

Lorraine

Kim said...

How special to know the history of the quilt and have it too. I think I would quilt it as is trying to ignore the smell then give it gentle wash. I like the border on there and if you use it gently the poly make not break down.
And for heaven sakes write all you know about this quilt and keep it with the quilt so it's history lives on. Wouldn't it be great to know what was going on in her life when she embroidered those sweet blocks? Was she happily pregnant? Waiting for her man to come from war? We'll never know.

Happy Sewing and safe travels :0)

mtrquilts said...

Dear Bonnie,
What a lovely rememberance of your Auntie Irene! As a quilt restorer, I suggest that there are a number of things to consider. Without being able to see the top in person, it is always a risk to make recommendations. Some things cannot be undone or reversed. Be careful about using any type of chemical spray to treat the odor of the top as it may cause unknown or unseen damage. Airing would be safer.

The first decision should be whether to remove sashing and borders. If you want to retain the look of the original quilt, you could certainly find cotton vintage or reproduction fabrics that would be very similar to what your Auntie chose. Or you could choose vintage or reproduction fabrics and set the quilt in a different way. Then it would be a generational quilt. If you decide to change fabrics, do you think you would look at the quilt in the future and still have all the happy memories of your Auntie, just because of the wonderful, happy butterfly blocks that she made? You could always make a label with the photograph of the original top along with your wonderful letter to Auntie Irene. What a wonderful tribute that would be. If you think you would loose some of the special feelings without the original sashing and borders, then it may be best to leave the top as is.

You will have more questions about what to do after you have pondered this for awhile, so please feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to share suggestions and ideas with you. I love knowing that someone cherishes these old tops and quilts and wants to honor the makers. Enjoy your treasure!
Marlene Royse

Remembrances said...

I had the same problem with several quilt tops, blocks and fabrics inherited from my Grandma and Great Aunt. I carefully laid them out on an old patio size screen door that I usually use for drying raw wool after I wash it. I put it out in the shade for several days in a row (bringing it into the garage at night) and the smell went away. I would then tend to finish it just as your Auntie would have, which is what I am working on with the tops I inherited. I had to stabilize them and repair some seams, but I want to keep them as my Great-Grandma, Grandma and her sisters made them. Just my 2 cents worth!

Julie Kaye from KS said...

What a lovely story of great memories. Now on to the quilt. I say take it apart. You might get more enjoyment out of it that way. Take a picture of it as it is and turn the picture into fabric that you can use as your label on the back including your memories with it. You could even use a picture of your Aunt Irene. That way you will still have the "original" quilt and a usable quilt at the same time.

Phyllis said...

I bought some appliqued blocks from that same time period and they were on really poor quality muslin. I washed the blocks (normal cycle and dryer) to see if they were going to fall apart. They did not, so I bordered them with reproduction fabric and made the quilt. Has been on my granddaughter's bed for several years and gets machine washed and dried often and still looks good as new.

As for the smell, local quilt shop says they have used 50% water/50% vodka sprayed on fabric and all kinds of things to remove smoke smell and others and have had no problems.

Good luck...main thing is to just enjoy it.

Carla said...

I would take apart gently wash blocks and reset with repros and then quilt. I think multigenerational quilts are cool. I think the finished quilt would be that much more amazing.

Betty said...

My humble opinion is the borders are just as much a part of your aunt's work of art as the butterflies are. My vote is to leave them. You have some really good suggestions for removing the odor. I would be afraid to wash it before quilting.
My grandmother's first name was Verna and her SIL was Irene! My mother's middle name is Irene in honor of her Aunt Irene. My middle name Vernell, is in honor of my grandmother. Lots of special memories with those two wonderful ladies!

paula, the quilter said...

I would leave the borders on it. If the borders are fraying then maybe serge around the outside edge. The problem with not soaking the top is that you are not only dealing with the smoke smell but the discoloration that the smoke causes -- a bit of an orange/brown color. I know, because I am an ex-smoker of 11 years. Harriet Hargrave sells Quilt Restoration Quilt Soak on her web site and this is what I would use. Just remember to put a sheet in the tub first and then the top that way the sheet takes all the weight of the top and the water it has soaked up and won't put undue stress on the seams of the top. Lay it flat to dry and take the opportunity to block it square. It's a lovely, sentimental top that just needs a bit of TLC.

Judy Dietrich said...

The blocks of muslin look very thin. You could cut around the appliques and put on new background fabric. I always like how you make your quilt backs as special as the fronts~~so you could use reproduction sashing on the front and use her fun 70's colors on the back. Then you will have used all her fabric in the quilt top, but they may be a little more color coordinated. Did you ask your Aunt Joy what she would do???? Hope you are having fun in Alaska!!

Sandra said...

Bonnie I have quilts that spent 50 years in my parents Boston home with 4 smokers and an old oil burning furnace. I got all the quilts clean and smoke free by filling my washer with cold water and borax and let them sit over night then wash on gentle the next day IT took 3 times doing this but it worked and to dry them I laid them out side on a white sheet on the grass in the sun. Now they say you can also bleach by a full moon. lol

keryn said...

If you spray the top you risk permanent staining. On the longarm lists the most popular method of getting rid of smoke smells from tops is to put them in a plastic bag with an opened bar of soap (Dial is most often mentioned) for a few days. Another proven method is to lay the top on grass for a few hours; the chlorophyll in the grass is a natural deoderiser. It was part of the laundry routine in the old days, to air quilts on grass.
Once the smell is gone you can quilt it, and then wash it thoroughly.

Jo (Pieceful Afternoon) said...

What a lovely quilt - and in fabrics I love also. I found a great way to get smoker smell out - spray a washcloth with Fabreeze - put the wash cloth and the quilt in the dryer on low heat - tumble about half an hour and it should be gone - or do it twice if it is really smokey.

My choice would be to keep the quilt as it is - poly blend fabric certainly shouldn't hurt the quilt at all - and it might be nice to have it just as Auntie made it. Who knows what others might want to do to the tops we leave behind - I'd prefer to think they honored our efforts.

My Life In Quilts said...

Wow! So many opinions. I too think that the butterflies are being over shadowed by the bright polyblend fabrics and could use a new home.

Michelle said...

Definitely quilt it as is -- it's the way she intended it to be. Wash it if you can without doing any damage. And keep the story with the quilt -- what a treasure!

Liriopia said...

OK, I skimmed most of the above answers. If you hand wash the top with Woolite it shouldn't damage the fabric. When you rinse, put a cupful of vinegar in the rinse water. It will take out the smell. If it doesn't take it all the smell out, once the top is dry (very dry) put in in a large plastic bag with a refrigerator box of baking soda. That will take out the rest of the smell.

Liri

Diane said...

Best Press had a product called something like Smell Away or something like that. If I was tryng to decide what to do and it was mine, I would take the butterflies off of the borders and sashing. I would spray the blocks with the smell away stuff and then piece them back into a quilt top with sashing and borders.
I understand the delima, as I have a quilt top that is partially quilted by my Granny. My problem is she used high loft poly batting and a sheet for the backing. I have tried and can not hand quilt this. I hate to lose her hand stitching, but it will never get finished the way it is and I would rather have it than not. So I am removing her precious stitches, replacing the batting and backing and hand quilting it.

Marla said...

Bonnie, you are getting a lot of opinions here so when I add mine, just follow your gut and do what your heart tells it. If and I mean IF!....it were mine, I would soak in a gentle soak for about 24 hours using a special soap for quilts (can't remember name but have seen it in quilt shops) along with several color catcher sheets and then air dry preferrably in the shade for a couple of days and then press out. By then, most of the smoke should be out and you can quilt it. I personally would not replace the borders as someday in the far future, the "70's" fabric will be as interesting as civil war and 1930's fabrics are now.

mary e said...

Yikes bonnie!!!i cannot believe the responses, think i might print it out as a reference.haha!! i have a similar problem with a HUGE quilt my mother made. not smelly but poly. she had hand pieced many many cotton hexie blocks then machine zigzaged them onto brown poly. (i just might send you pictures for your opinion, sometime.)i can not wait to here the outcome of your butterfly dilemma!! :>)

Gail said...

Hi Bonnie,
Good idea to air out the quilt, after a couple of days, I'd soak it in a bucket of soapy water for a whole day to get the cigarette smell out, then air dry it some more. Do you know what I use to wash "delicate" and antique fabrics--Baby Shampoo. If it's safe enough to use on a baby's hair, it's safe enough to use on delicate fabrics yet it still a detergent and has great cleaning power!

mary e said...

me again, forgot to mention that after all the zigzagging she than tied the quilt with NO telling what as a batting!!! it's heaVY! :>)

Susan said...

I think you should leave the quilt as is. The colors, design, and fabrics used are a part of your Auntie Irene. Maybe if you soak that gem in the bath tub you could get the smoke smell out of it.

Marsha said...

I love the red and white checked butterfly, how cool is that! It's a toss up as what to do to finish it. It is so pretty with the bright red and yellow sashing and borders, but it would be pretty done with reproduction fabrics, too. You will just have to follow your heart, it will tell you what to do. I would give it a very gentle soak/hand washing in the bath tub to get some of the odor and dirt out. Check the colorfastness of the red before you wash it though, just in case it bleeds. I have a quilt that my grandmother and probably my great-grandmother hand stitched the top (Grandmothers' Flower Garden), them my mother started quilting it and I finished it. It is original 1930's fabrics and I treasure it. I'll be looking forward to see what you decide to do. I know it will be a treasure for you, too.

Paul said...

My Grandmother LOVES butterflies... I may have to re-create this!

Paul
www.OutnumberedQuilter.com

woolywoman said...

Soak it in cold water with mild soap in the tub. Rinse the same way, never putting any strain on it. Roll in towels to dry and then lay flat. I have washed a lot of my grandma and great grandma's embroidery like that, and nothing bad has happened. It might not get all the smoke out, but will improve it.

As for the borders, maybe the reason she never finished it is that she didn't like how the borders came out, but was unwilling to take it all apart again. People didn't have design walls- they just plowed through. If you will enjoy it more set differently, than do so. You are not the Smithsonian.

Madeline said...

If you like it as is, keep it and wash it gently to get the smoky smell out. If you really hate the blended fabric, you could re-set it. But I would wash it first, then take it apart. It would save on fraying.

Anonymous said...

If she had given it to you personally, then I would have kept it as she intended, but I like the idea of adding to/redoing some things given to me by my loved ones. It makes me feel connected to them...put a label explaining the history and you will both be a part of history together. I am also more apt to use the item and think about them than if they are just tucked away in a closet somewhere.

June said...

A few years ago, I bought a hexagon flower garden quilt from an Op Shop, it was made of every known fabric from the softest lawn to Crimpelene and all weights in between! it was appliqued onto a pink poly sheet and I took it off - which I now regret. My rationale was that the top was not on the straight of grain. The maker really did use up every spare bit of dressmaking fabric so it really was the perfect setting for her. I intend to re-applique it onto a similar bed sheet, then tie it.

katydidart said...

Wow! So much conflicting advice! I think airing the quilt as much as possible and then doing the quilting is the best bet. There is so much risk of fraying or other damage if you soak it in water.
As to changing the sashing and borders - I think they look fine. Obviously your Aunt Irene chose the fabrics. Even without a design wall she could have decided if she liked the fabrics or not. So I would tend to think that she liked the quilt the way it is.
But (I often see both sides of an argument!) it's your quilt now. If you really can't bear to look at those red and yellow fabrics - change them! You'll still have the butterflies that your Aunt spent so much time on and it will always be a remembrance of her.

javajean said...

My first sewing lessons were from my grandmother in Nyssa, Oregon (not far from Eagle, Idaho) lesson number one was: "If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right" You are the one who knows in your gut what is "right" and what you want to do with this in the future. There seems to be many great tips about getting the odor out and many strong opinions on both sides of the coin of leave or remove poly blend... let us know what you decide. You will do the right thing.

Nancy-Rose said...

Take it apart. Those butterflies NEED to be set in something that reflects their true beginnings, and preferably something SCRAPPY!

Could you just soak the top, lay it out to dry, and then take it apart? A soak might take away enough smokiness to let you work with it. Then once it's together, give it a thorough wash.

The embroidery is darling on these butterflies -- this is a quilt top that is crying out to be finished!

Beth said...

I think the bright color does overpower the lovely 30's prints. Maybe soak the whole top as is to get rid of the smell then take it apart and reset the pretty butterflies.

Patricia said...

My son's apartment building caught on fire last year. His didn't burn but being the one underneath was filled with the smell and the smoke laden water. Guess who got the washing? The first load still reeked after 3 washes. I did a little research and then presoaked each load with vinegar then did a regular wash cycle with Oxiclean. All the odor was gone!
After airing the top should be bearable enough to quilt before washing. If not I'd soak in the tub with vinegar and no agitation. The problem here would be wanting to press it before quilting. Any stains would be forever set then.
Vintage Soak is very good for yellowing and age spots so you could follow the vinegar soak with the Vintage Soak and then a rinse or visa versa. It doesn't require agitation. Oxiclean does a good job on some things also.
Woolite in NOT recommended for use on quilts by conservationists. It contains a bleaching agent and can fade colors. Dry cleaning is not a good option either. When I had a quilt shop I had someone bring in a wedding quilt she had made and then thought she would have it cleaned before giving it away. It was ruined, colors ran and some other problems too.
I'd leave the top the way it was made. That was how she did it which is what makes it so special.

SHayes1@aol.com said...

I worry much that the red will fade onto your beautiful blocks if you wash them. Could you check it first for color fastness? It would be sad to quilt it and have it ruined with the first washing.If there is no fading I think I would add a light stablizer to the backs of the butterflies since the muslin is so thin. As far as getting rid of the smoke odor, activated charcoal or wadded up newspapers stored with the top in a closed area for a few days may get rid of some of the odor. Also vinegar or baking soda are known to remove odors from your laundry. Don't see why either would not work. Good luck in preserving your heirloom!