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September 14, 2014

My Love Affair with Antique Quilt Tops


Is there anything more comforting than wrapping up in your favorite quilt ... maybe while sipping hot chocolate, reading a good book, or watching your favorite show?  I submit there is not.  Quilts are amazing.  They tell stories, they have character, they span generations.  They can add color and charm to your home.  Anyone can make one, and everyone can use them.

A couple years ago, my mom and I really started getting into antique shopping.  Antique shops in New England are abundant, and we would always find treasures too great to pass up.  We found old things we could repuropse or display in our homes, and we loved getting a good bargain.  

And then, we discovered the quilt tops.  I remember the first quilt top we found.  It was a hexagon pattern, with beautiful fabrics, all hand sewn.  We swooned, we oohed and ahhed, and then my mom paid an exorbitant amount for it :) That didn't matter though.  That quilt sparked a passion in my mom and me - and now we're hooked.  We've gotten more judicious, and recognize a good deal, but we are still suckers for those beautiful, unfinished works of art.  As my mom says, she feels it's her duty to rescue these quilt tops and finally finish them!  They were meant to be used and loved!

Over the course of these past years, we've purchased dozens of antique/vintage quilt tops and spent time repairing and finishing them.  They are all so beautiful, I wanted to share some of them with you!



This quilt is affectionately called the "rat quilt" and it is one of my favorites.  This quilt had holes (and rat droppings on it), and it required a lot of love and patching.  But look at the fabrics!  It is gorgeous.  And the scalloped edge!  This quilt is one of the most unique quilts we've found, and my mom did a gorgeous tight spiral machine quilting over the whole thing.  She waits to wash the quilts until after they've been quilted, so the batting will shrink slightly and add a crinkled, aged look.


We love to finish the quilts off with great modern fabric that matches the color of the vintage fabric from the front.  This is the back of the rat quilt.  This quilt now sits on the guest bed in my parent's home.  (Don't worry, it's been washed!)

This quilt top below was much smaller, so my mom added a border around the edge before quilting it.  It's a great lap quilt now.  Can't you just imagine someone taking old clothes and scrap fabrics and patching this piece together?  I love it!

This quilt top is bursting with color!  It is all crinkled up because it literally came out of the drier just before I took this picture - so it will loosen a flatten a bit.  It is so cozy and lovely!

Sometimes, we find quilt squares as opposed to an already assembled quilt top.  These were squares mom sewed together before adding the border.


Here's a view of the back and the fun variety of fabrics that make this quilt feel modern and vintage at the same time!

These small antique blocks in the middle of the quilt below made a great centerpiece for a modern looking quilt with strong colors.


And more backing that I love!

Here's another use for antique quilt blocks.  These hexagon blocks called grandmother's flower garden were sewn by my great-grandmother!  When my mom inherited them, there weren't enough to make an entire quilt.  She put together a quilt and appliqued the hexagon blocks onto the top.  She actually made one like this for each of her daughters, so now we all have a keepsake from our great-grandmother that we can display and cherish.


This is another one of my favorite quilt tops.  I love bright, bold colors, and the vintage patterns are so dreamy.

Choosing blue for the back brings out the blue in the front, and I love it!



Two years ago, my mom gave each of her daughters a completed quilt top for Christmas.  I absolutely adore mine!  It is made from a quilt top we found together at the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts.  She is so thoughtful.  If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the amazing tight spiral quilting she did on it.  


This is the quilt she made for my sister for Christmas.  This one was found in an antique shop on the Oregon coast.  My sister has it displayed on a wall in her house...

And those are just the finished ones!  My mom has a handful of other quilt tops that she hasn't finished yet - all as spectacular as these.

Now that I live in the Northwest, I was afraid I wouldn't have as much luck finding quilt tops here.  Luckily, I've stopped at a number of great antique shops, and I've already had good luck!

I just got this awesome postage stamp quilt top for my sister a few weeks ago...

And this beautiful quilt top I picked up for myself at the same time:



And one more I picked up on the west coast - which is an awesome unique pattern.  I can't imagine how long this one took.  That's another awesome thing about finding quilt tops.  Most of the work is already done, so with a little of your own work, you get to enjoy a quilt much faster than making it all on your own.

So, what do you think?  Are you as enamored of old quilts as I am, or do you prefer the very modern styles?  Would you pick up an old quilt top and finish it?  
I have another, not pictured here, that I'm working on fixing up.  I can't wait to share it with you too!

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3 comments:

  1. The pictures turned out great Lindsay! I love seeing them all like this and it makes me smile to think of each one of them. Thanks!

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  2. I'm with you, I LOVE old quilts. I have one that I got from my grandma 20+ years ago that she threw together with scraps, not much to look at, but it means so much and I used it all growing up. I just dug it out of storage and decided to take it all apart, save and repair the top and make it into a comfy quilt. You've totally inspired me!

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  3. I love quilts. I just bought a little one at an antique shop in NH last Saturday. Does your mom keep the ones she's finished or does she sell them?!?

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