About a week ago I got an email from Bernadette including photos of a quilt she found at an antique mall, and she was hoping I could give her more information on it.
Hello Bonnie!I'd love your insight...I have no idea if it's old, new...
I've attached pictures of a quilt I saw at our local antique market.
The fabric on some of the snow ball blocks is faded. It's been machine sewn, hand quilted, stitched in the ditch around the nine patches, braids in the borders, and flowers in the snowball blocks.
I purchased it as a gift for a friend, but I'm totally clueless as to whether or not it's new, or old...lol!I don’t really consider myself an expert….just a passionate quilter who knows what to look for in this area!
I'm a follower of Quiltville and Bonnie, I know you'll be able to tell me something about this...you're the expert!
Let’s look at Bernadette’s Quilt:
Pretty pastels, 9 patches and snow balls….nice triangle inner border.
But is this antique? I don’t think so.
Let’s loook a bit closer. This looks too “set up” to me. Although it could happen in an antique quilt….I just doubt it with this one. I am also concerned about the “minimal” hand quilting and how poochie everything is around those blocks.
Toe catcher stitches!!
Can you tell that these stitches are like 5 stitches to the inch or fewer? Definitely not a quilt of any quality, and we see this in import quilts a lot. They are made quickly ---and the women making them work for pennies. At the same time, the soft spot in my heart tells me that they are at least able to have a job to help support their families, but the time isn't given them to do a really nice job, they are forced to be fast and minimal with no quality to their work at all.
What I can’t tell from here, and I’m just guessing – is that this quilt has polyester batting, which I don’t think came in wide use until the 1960s. If I could feel it…I’d know for sure.
Prairie point type edging with ZERO binding.
While prairie points ARE traditional, these are FAUX prairie points, and I don’t think you would see ANYTHING like this in an antique quilt.
Now let’s look at a REAL antique quilt and point out some things in comparison:
This is a view of a lovely antique double wedding ring with similar colors to the import quilt above.
Things to notice:
- Separate applied binding, sewn by hand. Most Chinese imports are sewn with the quilt front and quilt back placed right sides together with the entire quilt being sewn all the way around the outside edges, and then turned right side out BEFORE quilting. ((This explains a lot of the bunching and scrunching)) and are top stitched to give them a faux-binding.
- Size of quilting stitches and amount of quilting: This REAL DEAL ANTIQUE quilt has much more quilting in it and it is going to make the quilt more sturdy, not to mention more eye-catchingly beautiful! Look at that texture!
- Batting: This quilt was batted with cotton, you can tell by the texture and feel of the quilt what the batting is inside. Be sure to check.
- Fabrics in the antique quilt represent the era in which the quilt was made. This double wedding ring was made from the scrap bag around 1940 from decades worth of scraps.
In replying to Bernadette and trying to let her down gently, I asked if I could share these photos to hopefully help folks from making the same mistake that she did.
Lol...you can use both my name and the pictures! Not being very good at dating fabric is an issue that many have.
My issue with the quilt was...condition, just tooooo white, and the way the backing was pieced. Oddly enough, there was a feedsack quilt at another booth, (we don't see many of those up my way!) and there were two fabrics that were so close that I questioned it.
It was simply too reminiscent of a quilt my mother had from the '60's, and it that was a repro. Unfortunately, when you find a quilt up this way, and I'm in Mennonite country (Guelph, Ontario), they're usually at prices that are simply way over the value of the quilt, no matter the condition.
Being that it was a gift that was perfect for a friend, I still got it. I dickered that baby down, telling the lady there was no way it was "old"! It didn't hurt to ask, I am certainly not an expert on dating this kind of thing.
Hey, I found a Featherweight for $125 a few booths down, I consider that I came out ahead for the days hunting!
What a great attitude!
And I don’t think it’s a total loss either. Quilts like this import may have their place, thrown over the porch swing as a soft spot to land where we don’t care what the weather does over time….use it for a bit of decorating, let the dog or cat use it as their “own” quilt, send it off with a kid to college, use it as a pretty picnic blanket or picnic table cover in the summer months when enjoying the outdoors ---
I hope this helps buyer beware!