I love quilts. I especially love old quilts – and they don’t need to be museum quality. As many of you may know I have a lecture about my “less than pristine” collection of quilts I call But I Still Love You. I also have 3 other vintage quilt/clothing lectures – and you can read about them on the classes page of my website. Click here to see them all!
Sadly, I occasionally come across a quilt that is in such bad shape, it is unusable.
These are often called “Cutter Quilts” and some crafters will cut them up and make something new from them. This used to make me sad, but over the years I’ve come to believe that it’s better to make them into something new and lovely, or even useful, than have them sit in a box or be thrown away. I am very much against cutting up vintage quilts – unless there is really no hope for them.
Many years ago I made this teddy bear from an embroidered quilt I purchased at an auction. Most of the embroidery had been worn away, so I salvaged the best parts.
I used to participate in craft fairs and one of the friends I shared a booth with made old world santas from tattered quilts. Anita hand stitched the faces and embellished them in unique ways. I had to buy one:
By our next craft fair I was making crazy quilted coats for her santas, we split the profits and they were a hit. I was happy because I was still a “non-cutter quilt purist” at that time and it stopped her from cutting quilts apart.
I think the incident that changed my mind on this topic came about way back when I first began teaching quilting at Madison Area Technical College. I had a delightful woman in my weekly class who was a bit quirky. She lived out on a farm and decorated it with tattered quilts, pigs and anything purple.
Sadly, she came to class one day to say that her husband had run off with another woman and left her with his debt. She needed to have an auction and, through tears, invited all of us to come and give her treasures good homes. I was happy to oblige. I still have a number of her ceramic and wooden pigs in my kitchen. I bought two of her quilts and they were in very bad condition. So I stuffed them in a closet and tried to forget about them.
A few weeks later I was thinking about what I could do to cheer Jeanine up. I decided making a pig out of the tattered quilt with the purple ties would be the best use of that quilt. I cut out the good parts, lined the ears with purple and wrapped it up to bring to class.
She cried – but she loved it!
A while later Jeanine came to class with a smile on her face. She had met a wonderful man. They got married, moved to Florida and had 2 beautiful little girls. Don’t you love a happy ending?
So, if you have a family heirloom, and it is really falling apart, giving it new life might be the right thing to do. Especially if it can be made into a number of smaller items and shared with family members who would appreciate it. Cutting it into smaller “chunks” and placing them in a shadow box or frame is a nice option. Making a number of small table toppers is also a good idea – or maybe Christmas stockings!
I did a bit of web surfing and absolutely loved the idea of placing a quilt piece inside an old window on Sadie Seasongoods website. To read this delightful story click here.
If you’re wondering how I came up with this blog topic – I recently received an email from a site called Jen Reviews. This is what it said:
“My name is Jess and I’m the Editor at Jen Reviews. I was doing some research and just finished reading your wonderful blog. I just published a beautiful cutter quilt snowman tutorial complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions.”
I went to her site and her snowman made me smile. Click here to link to the instructions.