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Home > Newsletters > July 2005

July 2005

Common Question:

”How can you tell if a small quilt is an authentic crib quilt?”

Crib quilts are quickly increasing in value. Collectors realized they are easier to store, and display decoratively. And since most crib quilts were used and washed, again and again, there are less of them that have survived over a century. But is any small quilt a crib quilt? I have come across many quilts that were being sold as a 'crib quilt', but was only a cut down version of its larger self.

To evaluate if a small quilt is an authentic crib quilt check the following:
- Is the fabric scale right? Were small shirtings used? Or large scale florals? Small original quilts would mostly have had small prints and scale fabrics used.
- Is the block size appropriate for the size of the quilt? 10" blocks would most likely not have used to make a small quilt. A smaller size block, like a 4" or even a 6" is a much more reasonable size.
- Is there a border? If a quilt was cut up, more than likely there will be an outer border missing from the smaller version of the quilt. That's not to say that every quilt had a border. But if it's a small quilt with an outer border, it's probably safe to say it's an authentic crib quilt.
- Is the binding new? Once a larger quilt is cut down, the binding has to be replaced. Often not with the original binding. If the binding is folded over from the backing, and the backing looks original, then for sure you have an authentic crib quilt.

I make sure any quilt I sell as a crib or doll quilt is authentic and accurately described.

Feature Article:"All American Quilt Wash Success Story"

I don't advocate washing antique quilts. When someone asks me how to wash their heirloom, I pass on some very good advice that was given to me..."Go lay down on the couch with your feet up, until the feeling passes". There are many things you can do to freshen an antique quilt, and you can read about that on my website.

I sell a product called the All American Quilt Wash by Engleside Products. It claims to be safe on antique quilts, but when I sell it, I recommend it only for new quilts. I stress not to wet wash a quilt that was made before 1940, and then only after it's strength and color fastness can be determined, and then only washed by hand.

A dear friend consigned a quilt to me last week. An adorable circa 1930s child's quilt. But, not saleable in its condition. There were dark spots, fold discolorations, and dust smudges along all the scalloped edges. With her gracious permission, I washed it, with the All American Quilt Wash. I filled my washer with cold water and added 8 scoops of the Quilt Wash, submerged the quilt, and let it soak overnight, occassionally hand agitating gently. I bypassed the machine wash and went straight to rinse and onto spin. I let the quilt dry in the sun all day on the grass and it came out fantastic! Nice and bright white, all the fold discolorations were gone, and the dark stains on the front are now hardly visible.

I still do not advocate wet washing an antique quilt, I am not going to wash every quilt in my collection because of this small success. If you need help in determining how to care for you quilt, I recommend you consult a professional. I can probably refer you to one in your area if you ask!
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