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Book Reviews

Review 01/25/2007
by Dana Balsamo
"Antique Quilt Dating Guides" by Dr. Kimberly Wulfert


Have you ever been at an auction, flea market, garage sale, antique shop, or even online…and stumble on what you think is the perfect quilt, but wish you could accurately date it before buying it?  Ever doubt the sales tag on an antique quilt and want to be sure? 
No one, not even a serious antique dealer, wants to lug around their quilt reference book collection.  Quilt historian, Dr. Kimberly Wulfert, has come up with an easy and portable reference tool to date your quilts fast!
She has created two Antique Quilt Dating Guides that organize quilts by their STYLE and then by their date in a concise chart form. 
They are small enough to carry with you, in your purse, or leave them in your glove compartment in your car.  They are sturdy, lightweight, and resist tearing and moisture.  And the format makes information so easy to find, and so easy to learn.  The guides use quilt style as the primary reference point, and then groups each quilt style be an era.  
There are two guides available.  One guide covers Quilts in America from 1775 to 1900, the other covers Quilts in America from 1900 to 1950. 
With the earlier guide, you will be able to differentiate and date signature styles of a quilt, hexagon quilts, mourning quilts, border styles, and more.  Over 90 quilt styles are included. 
In the later guide, Dr. Wulfert reviews distinguishing features of 20th century quilts .   Over 35 styles are described in detail, and as a whole as they are differentiated in a checklist from 19th century quilts.

These Quick Guides are perfect for quilt collectors, dealers, study groups, and anyone who wants to learn about dating quilts. 

The information is accurate, covering all the common styles during the eras they were popular.  As you go across the chart, you will learn how particular styles changed over the decades. 
And when you get home, use them in conjunction with fabric dating guides to narrow down the date of your quilt.  There will be exceptions, or course, so practice, and exposure to more antique quilts will sharpen your skills.  But I think you find yourself returning to these guides again and again because of the wealth of information that is included. 
The Antique Quilt Dating Guide 1775-1900 retails for $19.95.  The 1900 to 1950 Guide retails for $9.95.
These Antique Quilt Guides offer information never presented before in such a clear and concise format. 
You can visit Dr. Wulfert's website for more information at www.antiquequiltdating.com

Material Pleasures carries both guides. 

Book Review 8/31/2005
by Dana Balsamo

"Vintage Fabrics - Identification
& Value Guide" by Judith Scoggin Gridley, Joan Reed Kiplinger, and Jessie Gridley McClure
Finally an updated guide to vintage fabrics!

The authors have organized their guide according to fabric content (Cotton, Silk, Wool, etc) and alphabetically by type. Descriptions are in layman's terms so that even the most novice collector or interested party will comprehend, but goes into such depth and detail, it will provide the most experienced textile professional an education. The pictures are full of detail, something lacking in previous textiles books. Particular care was taken to show texture and color.
Many advertisements from early catalogs and magazines are used to help put fabrics into context and to understand their uses. As well as photographs of fabrics as they were used (feedsacks, tablecloths, etc.).
Most helpful are the tables that detail Brand Names, Finishes, Mills, and Widths.
This book is a necessary addition to the library of all fabric collectors, antique textile professionals, and those interested in textile history in general.
Be prepared, you will feel compelled to revisit your fabric collection and appreciate it in a whole new way.
Book Review 6/2/2005    
by Dana Balsamo
"Straight Talk About Quilt Care"   
by Patricia Lynne Grace Cummings
“Straight Talk About Quilt Care – Display, Cleaning, and Storage of New and Antique Quilts and Needlework” by Quilt Historian, Patricia Lynne Grace Cummings, is the newest book on the market to give clear, concise information, for the average reader, on how to care for new and antique textiles. This is a book that every quiltmaker, quilt artist, embroiderer, quilt collector, quilt teacher, antiques dealer, and museum curator needs!

Material Pleasures, owned by Dana Balsamo, is cited as a reference several times in the book. “Restoration Fabric Restorer” and the “All American Quilt Wash” by Engleside Products are two products Material Pleasures carries for quilt and textile care and are referred to in Mrs. Cumming’s book.

Material Pleasures also granted permission for use of several pictures in the book. There are examples of pristine quilts, quilts with restoration, quilts with conservation, and quilts that should just be left alone despite their imperfections.

The 102 page book with more than 50 high-quality color photos addresses all of the questions you may have about washing/not washing quilts and textiles, and how to deal with certain situations, from mice to mildew damage; from insect control to keeping pets safe around sewing rooms; to environmental factors that affect your quilt collection to the ramifications of dry-cleaning; from preferred detergents for "wet washing", to archival storage; and the document also includes the many ways to hang, display, or frame textiles and quilts. There is something in this book for everyone. Yet, these are but a few of the many sub-topics that are explored.

Included are bits of quilt history, and stories that are surprising, comical, or amazing, but are all related to the main topic of textiles. Health-related information about the safe handling of textiles, whether they be clothes, new fabrics, or old quilts is discussed. The focus of the book is on preserving your heirloom treasures, gift quilts, and your own needlework and quilts, for future generations.

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