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Mystery stains on Grandmas quilt

I have a quilt my Grandmother made that has been in storage for probably 30-40 years. There are mystery brown stains on it: looks like someone had a nosebleed, but it could be food or something that turns brown with age. There are several shades of brown so it could be several things. I have vague memories of her making this when I was a child: I think she finished it, someone promptly spilled on it, then she died and my mother put it away "safely" not realized it was stained. It would date probably from the late 1950Âs or early 60Âs

It is not a pieced quilt: the surface is all one piece of off-white cotton. It is heavily embroidered with dark indigo blue cross-stitching and white hand quilting. ItÂs all blue and white like Delft porcelain. The back is the same fabric. I donÂt know what it is filled with but this was before polyester batting so it is either cotton batting or some plain cloth. It is thin, not puffy. I donÂt know what the embroidery thread is but probably some kind of polished cotton: I know she normally bought regular embroidery thread.

I donÂt think it has ever been washed: it still has the marks of the pattern on the cloth under the cross-stitching.

I have spot treatments for laundry and for carpet stains but since some of the stains go over the embroidery, IÂm afraid those will bleach the blue color. Also the base fabric is off white, not white-white.

Any suggestions about what is likely to be safe for this? Thanks!

Comments (46)

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    Soak it in Orvis and distilled water (water from a dehumidifier is good as is rain water).Soak for at least 24 hours, watch to be sure the embroidery isn't running and bleeding, but it shouldn't if it's cotton embroidery thread.
    If the stain is fading but not gone, continue to soak, Then spin out and rinse many times. Just fill the washer....push it around by hand and spin the water out.
    When done carefully spread out to dry. Don't allow the weight of a wet quilt to hang from one edge.
    Orvis can be found at places where they sell quilting supplies.
    Linda C

  • damascusannie
    13 years ago

    I second Linda's advice, but have one or two things to add:

    I have to say I disagree about the cotton floss not bleeding, in my experience cotton floss can bleed like CRAZY. Get some Shout Color Catcher sheets to toss in the water when you wash the quilt, it absorbs excess dye in the water.

    If you have a livestock or farm supply store in your area, get the Orvus there--it'll be a lot cheaper than buying it at a quilt store.

    And be sure to let us know how it all works out.


    Annie

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  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks for the help, Linda and Annie! I did a google search for Orvis, unfortunately since there is a clothing and a couple of other stores/manufacturers named Orvis, all I got was hundreds of false hits. Since you can find it at feed stores too, that's what I'm looking for next. Apparently they are not big on online advertising. IÂd rather not order online as it is. Now I just need to find a feed store or quilt shop. I live in suburbia (NW suburbs of Chicago) and donÂt know where any of those might be. If anyone has an idea how to find one, please chime in.

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    Orvis is a non ionic soap....meaning it's PH neutral...very good at getting out stains...from heirloom textiles and cow's tails!!
    Where you live you are not far from riding stables and tack stores....they will have orvis.
    Think show animals...cows horses and maybe even dogs...perhaps you know someone who shows white dogs?? LOL!
    Linda c

  • damascusannie
    13 years ago

    It's Orvus with a "U".

    Annie

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    AAH.....No wonder I could find directions for using it and recommendations but none for sale!!

  • Miss EFF
    13 years ago

    Linnea56 ---

    I'm taking a wild guess that you can't be too far from Janesville, WI?? Try Farm and Fleet -- they usually carry it.
    There is a store in Woodstock, IL.

    LOVE Farm and Fleet!!!!

    Cathy

  • TxMarti
    13 years ago

    linnea, before you do anything to your quilt, I urge you to do a couple of things.

    1) read this. It's not my favorite antique quilt restoration website, but I'm on the wrong computer.

    2) ask again on the quilt form here at gardenweb

    3) contact a quilt authority in your area, probably an owner of a local quilt shop - or they can recommend someone.

    Many times, those brown spots can't be removed and trying only weakens the threads in your quilt.

  • sandra_ferguson
    13 years ago

    First of all, don't expect to remove all 'age' spots from your quilt...this is, after all, old fabric, and can not be expected to look like 'new'. It's important, too, how you wash your quilt. I often times wash mine in my washing machine, but NEVER agitate it...this is where the problems lie - fill your tub with water and some sort of gentle soap, and place your quilt on the water - allow it to sink to the bottom. You may, with your hands, swish it around, but never allow the machine to agitate it. Drain the water, fill with rinse water, and spin. The spinning cycle isn't harmful - only the agitation. If the water looks dirty, repeat the whole process, always with no agitation. I have many antique quilts, and this is the way I wash them all. To dry, don't put in the drier. I sometimes lay mine ACROSS 4 clothes lines, but never hang it below the lines, with pins. Sometimes, in summer, I take it outside and drape across my boxwood hedge. You could also put down a sheet on the grass and lay your quilt on this.
    I also use a wonderful product called NANCY'S VINTAGE SOAK....it is a whitener made for anitque linens, laces and quilts....removed age spots and yellowing while protecting heirlooms. Color safe and nontoxic. It's a great product, and one I've used successfully, many times.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    The yellowing doesnÂt bother me: the fabric was probably off white to begin with. ItÂs those darn brown spots that look like blood! They are so stark against the crisp blue embroidery and "white" background. ItÂs like a continual reminder that her work was not respected by her immediate family, and I want to make up for that. The fabric does not look at all worn or fragile: there are no thin areas or anything.

    When I find the cleaner I was going to wash it in the bathtub but if spinning is OK that would certainly be easier.

  • Bobbie241
    8 years ago

    I just machine washed four antique quilts. Two of them had horrible age spots. On these two, I first tried lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide and bleach for colors. Did not work. I then filled washing machine with cold water and quilt soap. Set it to gentle cycle. I covered a nearby bed with old shower curtain liners. I laid stained quilt on bed. I put a small amount of regular bleach in small bowl. I sprayed the spots with cold water, then I dipped a Q tip in bleach and then touched each age spot with it. I immediately put in washing machine after all spots were touched. Let set for 15 minutes then started washer. I lifted out gently so as not to break threads then laid on the shower liners to dry. Each quilt took a couple of days to dry but look beautiful. One quilt still had a few spots so I repeated whole procedure again on that quilt. Every tiny spot came out. The secret is to be fast so bleach isn't in fabric very long.
    My quilts are all cotton and mostly white but one does have colored fabric applique. The spots on the colored fabric I left to last so bleach on them was for minimum length of time. Those old cotton quilts are stronger than we think.

    The woman who wrote about mystery spots should, as someone else suggested, repair and quilt her antique before cleaning.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thanks for the followup , Bobbie! I have yet to treat my quilt. Keep getting sidetracked. I bought the Orvus soap and long time ago. Funny, I just took the quilt out 2 days ago to put it on my bed for the summer. Maybe the quilt was summoning this thread?

  • calliope
    8 years ago

    One used to be able to find enzymatic boosters for laundry, but I haven't seen one in years. It might be something to try, and I'm thinking the only place I've seen anything like that lately is a pet supply store to remove organic stains from carpeting. If the stain is organic, it might be something to try. I've also stored fabrics for years and sometimes one finds a staple or straight pen in the pile of fabrics and they cause rust stains or blotches. Those are another issue and very difficult to remove. Often other stains, especially organic ones will eventually fade if the item is washed gently and sun-dried. The sun is an effective bleach. Also encourage you to try the same question on the quilting forum. There is a lot of collective knowledge there on handling old quilts.

  • SaBro
    8 years ago

    Those mystery spots are from being stored in wooden chests which was the custom back in the day.

  • daituom
    8 years ago

    Take advice from your local fabric museum or auction house. Do NOT use chemicals on it.

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Well I have handled quilt restoration, repair and cleaning of stains, etc. for years and years. I am also a professional certified appraiser and a quilt historian. I have a degree in archaeology, so worked with cleaning stains from many things also for years as well. Now if it IS blood, once set, which happens from drying in the dryer, is very hard to get out, but there are several new stain removers for quilts that are gentle and should work. Even if it is something other than blood (and I would need to see the stain to determine which kind of stain it might most likely be), you could use any of these products safely. One of them is new and is called Grandma's Secret Stain Remover, and you can order it online. It is not expensive, but also I have not tried it yet. However, they were selling it at a quilt show, and so it is likely good because people wouldn't dare sell anything at a quilt show for stain removal unless they wanted a lot of lawsuits if it were bad. So I suspect it is good.

    Also, remember an important issue. If your dye does run, the critical thing is to NOT put it into the dryer like that. There are a number of very good products that quilters use to help avoid any dye runs or correct them and you can look on google.com and find them.


    Check this site too:http://www.quilthistory.com/stain.htm. We actually used Sodium Peroborate in Archaeology to clean all kinds of things and it works wonderfully. You should be able to order it online too.


    Another is http://retroclean.com/retroclean/. Now I HAVE used this one and it is fabulous and very safe too. It should do the job for you and it is very simple to use. Most stain removers actually are.


    Good luck with this, and do let me know how it works for you. Let me know if you have any other questions I can help you with. Peace and many blessings, Anne Copeland P.S. I am an Annie too, so used my regular Anne name to avoid confusion. The Orvis is OK, but in my experience over the years, not very successful in getting stains out.

  • Lori Armstrong
    6 years ago

    I find many old quilts at auctions here in Ohio. I second, third and forth the Orvus. I have started to add a small amount of OxiClean. Both do better desolved in hot water but I do this in the bath tub. Then add cold water. Then add the quilt. pushing it down and letting it soak. After a long soak I drain the water, refill and drain several times with clear cold water. After the last draining I put the quilt in a laundry basket tilted till most of the excess drains off. Then out in the yard O spread it on a bedsheet laid on the grass to dry. The sun helps fade any remaining stains and discoloration. I do not hang them until almost dry as the weight can damage the vintage fabrics.

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Hi, This is good, but you can actually save your back and use your washer (assuming you have a top loader. You don't want to allow it to aggitate, but you can fill the tub with what you are going to use, stop any aggitation, and then push it up and down for awhile and allow it to soak. You will ruin your back if you keep using the bathtub. I put a big laundry basket up on top of the washer and line it with plastic. An old shower curtain will do or any plastic bags to prevent water from leaking all over. Then when you are ready to rinse, do the same thing again. Take the quilt out and ease and squeeze into the laundry basket while you allow the water to go out of the washer. Fill it again with the clean water and stop the aggitation again. Soak it until it comes out without the water looking murky. Sometimes you have to repeat the whole wash process just as described, without the soap until the water comes out clear. Then do what you have been doing for the drying, which is just fine. I have done quilt restoration, repair and cleaning for years professionally, and as I am now a senior 73, I cannot get down and bend over the tub anymore, but this works just fine and sure does dave your back. Good luck with it, and everything else you are doing is fine. There ARE some very good and safe new quilt cleaning products that work wonderful for age discoloration. But what you are using works, so continue to do it. Quilts are somewhat fragile, but they were washed in a lot more stressful ways when they were new and they have lived to this day, so I think washing them in these ways is just fine. You can always tell how sturdy quilt fabric is when you handle it. If it is all hand stitched, it likely have very tiny seams and can come apart with washing. And some fabrics are very cheesy and very poorly or loosely stitched, so you do have to be careful with those. This is very fun to share.

  • Lori Armstrong
    6 years ago

    I have front load washer, modern comforters and sheets and even jeans twist up in it. Though I do cutter quilts in the washer there is really no saving my back anyway. I have horses and chickens so a normal week sees me lifting 50# bags of feed and my job (USPS) requires me to be able to lift and carry 70#.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I do have a top loader, Anne, so thank you!

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Great! Good girl! Well, you might be older, but I am probably even older at almost 74. Good to be able to help you. We need our backs!

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Hi Lori, Yes, if you do have a front loader, it doesn't work with the wash technique since you have no way to just use your washer to soak things. Wow, gal, you are amazing working and lifting all those things. Hope you wear a back support because even if you are unbelievably strong, you can still wreck your back, especially when you get older like me. I admire you for doing all these things. You are a genuine gal! I would have chickens in a New York minute if I could in my home. I used to many years ago, and the chicken laid so many really good eggs. She and the rooster ate every bug with I think blocks of my home. They were great. The person who gave them to me taught me to clip their wings and show them how to go up in the tree to roost at night which worked fine for them. Nothing ever got them, but the rooster would have probably even gone after a bull he was so brave. I sure did love those two! Love horses too. Peace and many blessings, Anne

  • Lori Armstrong
    6 years ago

    Na no back brace. My back is OK but my knees are shot. I'm 55 and they have seen some abuse. I am just about to order some more pullet chicks. The old hens will stay though I have a rooster that is getting picked on a bit by the others. I do want to rehome him but there has been a crack down on adult birds here in Ohio. So he can't go far. I have a mix of lace wings and Americana (lays blue eggs). I'm thinking of getting some Buckeyes, a good heritage breed. I'll get the flock up to about 30 birds before winter, They help keep each other warm, and I tend to use more eggs in the winter. Don't bake much in summer.

    You are right they do like their bugs but I've also seen them go after mice, even stealing them from the barn cats.

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Hi Lori. I would love to keep in touch with you. If you ever want to write me off list, my e-mail is anneappraiser@gmail.com. Do feel free. I love making new friends everywhere. You are just a kid. I am 74 or will be in November, and my right knee had to be replaced so I know what you mean. Poor old rooster guy. Wish I could have a rooster and hen here. I really loved mine. I don't know the lace wings. The Americanas are very beautiful and popular here, and then the Aruncas too. They seem to lay all colors. I do so love the fresh eggs. Yes, I have heard of the heritage breed. I am not surprised at how the hens and rooster will steal from the cats. I have seen them go up against my dogs; they are pretty brave.

    No I don't bake too much in summer either. Too hot here (we are up in the 100's). But not a lot of baking even in the winter now as our gas is so expensive, even with senior discounts. But I love to bake and cool. Very comforting and reminds me so much of days gone by which I truly miss. I do have a good friend who bakes a lot though and the other day she brought a bag of baked apple peels that she had coated with sugar and cinnamon. Great idea to stop waste (though you could give yours to the chickens, unbaked of course). They will eat most anything and seem to love things like that. But what a great idea and must be healthy too. I remember when I had the knee replacement, the doc told me I had to sit in my chair with my leg up all the time. And also he wanted me to take major pain pills but I refused. Instead I bought a lot of green apples, and when the old knee hurt, I would sit in my chair with my bowl of green apples and make apple pies. Boy, I sure did eat a lot of apple pies. My doctor joked me about it and I told him that it was healthy because it was fruit. A lot healthier than all those pills.

    You take care and I hope you can find a good home for the rooster. You make me want to live on a farm once again even though it is a lot of back-breaking work. Have a good week, and great to hear from you. Peace and many blessings, Anne

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Hi, and I will just call you Pink since we don't have your actual name. I love your writing and congratulations on being 90+. You must have led a good life. Yes, wouldn't that be nice to write about what we would like to have at this stage of our lives. I know I live in a cute 1958 old mobile home I call my "I Love Lucy" home and I think what I would enjoy would be someone to help me with all the little honey do's around the house. Gosh, I get so tired with all I already do and then trying to do homework too. I will be 74 in November, so I guess I am a kid to you. I am taking classes in Paralegal Studies and Criminal Justice on an online university, and hope to get my masters in Criminal Justice and then work with juvenile delinquents teaching them and advocating for them and their parents. I believe that we only have to dig deep and put some good fertilizer on it to get the best out of people. I have worked with special needs/emotionally disturbed children and young people since 2005 as a paraeducator/instructional aide, and have done a lot of private tutoring too. It is good to have goals and dreams at our ages.

    Yes, the chickens and maybe a tiny goat, a tiny sheep and perhaps a tiny pig would be good, and of course I would love to grow all the wild things I could eat and share with neighbors. I grew a lot of purslane this year, which many think is a weed, but it sure tastes like spinach. And I eat a lot of dandelion "lettuce" in my salads and sandwiches, and I have had camomile and mint growing in the yard too for tea. I love to grow things and will save just about any plant that looks interesting. If I don't know what it is, I spend hours researching until I discover it.

    I saved four wolf spiders that came in some of my free plants from friends moving out of state. But I put them into a special part of the backyard, and they are pretty much harmless to us and a good garden spider for keeping the bad bugs out. I make friends with most of the creatures I find in my garden, and right now have a young praying mantis who is hanging around. I go out and speak to them as if they can understand what I am saying. Well, you never know; they just might understand, but not speak our language, or maybe we just can't hear them.

    I have a floor loom, 4-harness that someone gave me for free, and it is kind of big for my little add-on room, but I sure would like to have it set up and give it a go. It's funny, but to me, as we grow older, the big expensive and fancy things go by the wayside, and the little things in life begin to give us so much pleasure. I did enjoy when I had my chicken and rooster. She laid delicious eggs and it was fun to look for them every day. And they ate every single bug in the place and I think every weed too. Great little multi-purpose gardening tools. They fertilize the place, help keep it clean and pest free, and give you free food on top of it all.

    How about you other gals? What would you like at your stage of life? This could be fun. Anne P.S. I am not sure how to start a new topic, but we could do that too.



  • dandyrandylou
    6 years ago

    "It is good to have goals and dreams at our ages." Anne, your home-run remark has no boundaries. The amazing work you have done and are doing is proof. I know there are others at your age and at my age who do not have goals and dreams, and I am sad for them as they apparently just wait for "old age" to catch up with them. There is so much to learn and accomplish, and now we are in more of a position to make long-awaited choices. Such freedom!

    You are obviously an animal and plant lover and probably an overall nature lover as am I. Although life has forced me to live in an apartment, and even though our balcony does not face south, on it I am nurturing six herbs that I baby carefully and talk to gently. In earlier times I was a true gardener, raising plants from seeds under lights, and searching for sprouts the day after I planted them.

    At this stage of life I would like to have a small piece of land where I could raise lots of flowers, a few chickens and a rooster (for eggs only), a lamb or two to love, plus a few animals that perhaps have been mistreated and need a home. Although I have other goals that are more realistic, "Pink's Pasture" would be a dream come true.

    Anne, I know we would both like to hear from other "older" people who still have a dream and would like to share it. Here's hoping they will join us.


  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Thank you so much for your great note today. You really made my heart smile. Yes, it is good to have a dream like this. We must be soul sisters at the very least! It is so much that we both like those things - the creatures, a nice little piece of land to have a little garden, and I wouldn't eat my creatures either, but the eggs or milk would be fine. It is so comforting to think on these things in a world that seems so unlike those things we remember that are so good and healthy too. Well, we can stay positive and you never know, it could happen for either and hopefully both of us and others who have dreams like ours. Be well and have a great week. peace and many blessings, Anne always

  • Elizabeth Hulbert
    6 years ago

    I love and appreciate anything of beauty from rocks and twigs to beautiful linens. I have collected tablecloths and quilts for a few years and I enjoyed reading everyone's great cleaning advice and also about how you live. I am 61. I majored in art over 40 years ago. For some reason along the way I began to feel like creating art was all about competing with my fellow classmates and quite painting and drawing. Now all these years later I am taking classes and going to workshops with other people that love to create. Everything is so different this time. I get thrilled just sketching in my sketchbook let alone painting. It is a sheer joy and as a bonus I think I am creating some of my best work. Unlike in the olden days, I respect the days my sketching doesn't work out as perfectly as I had planed. The pressure is off and I am loving it.

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Orvis now is old school and not all that effective. We used it when we were afraid of everything related to cleaning quilts. We know better now. It is OK but you might not get the results you think you will. One that is excellent is Retro Clean, http://retroclean.com/retroclean/. They have a number of products and there are photos online to show what they can do. I have also talked to the sellers in depth. I think what is in it is what we used to use when I was working in Archaeology to clean artifacts of all kinds, sodium perborate (hmmm, that doesn't look right on the perborate. but I will trust the spell checker. I have used it for a long time and without any problems ever. I used to do a lot of cleaning, restoration and repair of quilts, linens, and even furs back in the day, of all types. Not so much today. Too busy with majoring in Criminal Justice at age 74 in an online university.

    I love quilts too, and have been an appraiser for 22 years as well as a quilt historian. Your quilt with the embroidery sounds like a kit quilt, and don't freak out. They are quilt collectible today. Kit quilts are one of my areas of specialization and there are others of us who also specialize in them. One lady, Rose, has an online identification site, but it costs to use it. Anyway, most of the cross stitch or embroidery quilts from the 50's/60's were kit quilts. I have never seen one of them have dye runs with the thread, but I definitely have with earlier periods.

    Yes, I like a lot of the things that you collect too. I love anything that is handmade, and I am a great collector of rocks and pieces of wood that take my fancy. Used to have a basket I called "my living art" basket. I would go for a walk and pick up all sorts of things I would keep in the basket I hung on a fence. And I would rearrange it often.

    And I also agree when I started working with quilts, art quilts, everything became just fun. I am not at all competitive. I like making humorous and spiritual quilts, or quilts that appeal to my emotions. I am always changing so that makes it more fun. I get a lot of fabrics from thrift stores, esp. men's shirts. Because they are art quilts, I don't need to use always cotton. I have found the most beautiful silks, sometimes with a slub, and I have found true indigo shirts and beautiful plaids and stripes in cotton. Works beautifully in the quilts and is fun because it is a challenge. Yes, I love to make art quilts and I feel happy when I am creating too.

    thanks everyone for this ongoing discussion. Peace and many blessings and Happy Thanksgiving, Anne Copeland


  • dandyrandylou
    6 years ago

    Elizabeth, it is great to learn of your experience with art. Art is everywhere, especially in nature, and I was tickled at your remark that you love twigs. I have been trying to get out and clip some small twigs and branches and paint them white (and maybe glitter) and perhaps red to have them around for the holidays. I have tried decoupage, but don't know what to do with what I make. My current craze is putz houses (have made over 30); although I am not clever enough to design them myself, I can usually copy something. You are blessed to have the ability to sketch. Please tell us of the projects and how you incorporate your sketches into your life. Hope your post encourages someone else to join in. Cheers.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Anne, what exactly is a "Kit quilt"? Do you mean with the design pre-printed on the fabric? You can still see the printing under the fabric. The quilt is not pieced, the top is all one piece.

    With most things she embroidered she would wash several times until the printing faded. She did make up her own crochet patterns, but I recall seeing her work on pre-printed embroidery fabric most of the time. If she wanted to use a different fabric, like a colored one, she would have someone like my Mom transfer the design on.

  • Elizabeth Hulbert
    6 years ago

    I ordered my Retro Clean today. I can't wait to try it.

  • Elizabeth Hulbert
    6 years ago

    Pink_warm_mama_1, I just looked up what a putz house is. Oh my heck, I'm mad about miniature things. You say that you have made 30? I would love it if you shared some of them with me. Could you post photos of them? As far as copying someone else's houses I figure that all of my ideas come from somewhere to one degree or another


    and I'm sure that you make the putz houses your own. I'm going to try to upload a 50's one that looks like the house I grew up in that I would like to try to make. It's funny that you mentioned decoupage because I was thinking about trying that right before I started drawing and painting again. It would be fun to see some of your decoupage as well. I might steal your twig idea for Christmas.

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Hi, a kit quilt comes in a number of forms. One is a dye cut pattern such as Sunbonnet Sue, Overall Bill, and Butterflies. The dye cuts were cut from material leftovers from the factories using metal dyes that could cut a number of pieces at the same time. The fabric factories produced fabrics in the 20's and 30's, and the dye cutting companies would buy the pieces that could not be cut into any other thing. The dye cut factories would often an ad such as one I have a picture of that reads "One hundred 'gay' butterflies' for $1.00" but in those days, that was a lot of money, and also the word gay did not mean what it does today.

    Another type were what your Grandmother made. She could get blocks that were preprinted with blue lines for embroidery. In the 20's and 30's you could buy what they called penny blocks that came preprinted with the designs. And yes, you could also purchase transfer patterns from different companies and they could be pressed and leave embroidery patterns on the cloth. There were also household stamped kits for things like dishtowels, pillows for couches, pillowcases and baby quilts. Aunt Martha's produced some of those patterns and so did the Rainbow Company, but there were a lot of companies producing them. Some could be found in the old 10 cent stores or in small stores or department stores.

    There were also applique quilt kits that came with printed pattern in sheets with the parts to be cut out to applique marked on the fabric but not cut and then a sheet *usually early on, but later they came in colors. These sheets were marked with the beautiful quilting designs and they had the areas market where the printed or solid color cloth pieces could be appliqued. Sometimes the marks for the placement did not quite match the patterns for the applique parts. But the designs generally were very pretty, and sometimes copied from museum quilts. Generally there would be a central medallion design of a floral bouquet or basket of flowers, or there would be blocks with individual applique designs, and there were other types as well, some more unusual. We used to be able to find a lot of unfinished kits because they were not always easy to applique, and I can personally attest to that. You might look them up on E-bay as they have generally a lot of types for sale. You will likely find mostly the finished kits, but once in awhile, you can find the kits themselves.

    Baby quilts were often kits. And in the 50s, you could find a lot of the embroidered kits, generally with cross stitch patterns.

    Pretty much all of the kits early on came with the thread for embroidery if it was called for, and the print or solid color fabric for the applique patterns, and then the solid white or colored ground for the front, but you did not get backing or batting as you do today.

    Some kits had pieced designs with different solid color parts in large floral or geometric designs. The kit quilts were designed by females and males as well.

    There were other types of kits too for baby quilts, pillows, and other household linens. They were called pretinted, and used a variety of ways to color the fabric. One was to use crayons, which has seen a revival today, and some were air brushed. Most were marked around the design areas for embroidery. Many were very cute and during WWII, there were a lot of household pillows, pillowcases and even some children's toys and clothes. Those are very collectible. Hope this helps. This is an incredibly short and incomplete story of the kit quilt industry. It was considered a cottage industry, and was done as far back as when women still did not yet have the vote, but here they were running successful businesses and employing lots of people and teaching them skills, and this was very lucrative in the Great Depression as the designers created a lot of programs so that people could still buy the kits. One of those was the "pay as you go" plan. So you would buy a block and make it and then buy another one when you had more money. This method is still used today in what are called "Block of the Month" or BOM quilt kits. You can look those up online and you can find a lot of examples of some really pretty quilts that are contemporary that you can buy. Again, some of the companies design very beautiful quilt kits with new ones coming out every year, sometimes every season. It is a nice way for new quilters to learn to make something beautiful and feel happy when they get done.

    Oh, you might find some on Pinterest.com too, one of my favorite places to spend my addictive hours (chuckles) looking at all sorts of pretty pictures of just about any kind of things you might want to do or see examples of with tutorials on many of them showing how to do the things. I have looked up things like designing a small garden, decorating a small mobile home, upcycling clothing and things, and recycling things, as well as quilts, etc., etc., etc. It is too much fun, so be sure to have a snack close by because I can guarantee you won't want to leave. You do have to register as you do for houzz. Lots of inspiration!







  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    I love Retroclean products. One of my other old-time favorites is Biz Detergent. It is another one that works very well on vintage linens. Of course you always need to be careful when you wash something to ensure it will not stain the rest of the fabric, or that it is washable, and also that it has sturdy quilting and sturdy fabric. Some things that are hand quilted very loosely or tied you have to be careful with. Of course in the old days (the 1800s and early 1900s), when the women would wash the tied quilts, they could untie them, take the top and bottom off (in one piece) and mend it and the batting would be hung over the line to air, and it would be beaten with a rug beater to make sure it got very clean. It could be then reassembled and retied, and often a piece of muslin or clean cloth would be put over the top edge and that was called a mustache cover because a lot of men wore beards or mustaches and because people didn't bathe as often in those times generally, there would be oil in their skin too, so it was important to protect the cloth of the quilt. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • Elizabeth Hulbert
    6 years ago

    I didn't know that! Women are good.


  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Yes, they sure are. After all, do you realize that women were the originators of multi-tasking. Just look at Thanksgiving! That is major multi-tasking! See? (Chuckles). Seriously, whenever I was working and even with attending a university online at age 74 in Criminal Justice, I can do my homework, pay attention to my pets, fix snacks for all of us, and other little tasks and still get A's in school. Now how many 74-year-old-men can do that? Chuckles. Love them but it is true. I guess that is why they say, Necessity if the Mother of Invention! Well, we couldn't do without them, but we are still smart too! Actually men AND woman have been very innovative when push comes to shove. So I guess it is about equal, but we sure aren't that weaker sex, are we?


  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    To my knowledge I don’t recall Grandma making any quilts
    other than this one and one other. This is not pieced. I think she didn’t like
    piecing. I think the only part she liked was the tiny stitches needed to quilt
    the top of a quilt. She preferred
    embroidery and crochet. My oldest aunt made quilts, though she never got around
    to making one for me. She insisted that all piecing had to be done by hand, not
    machine. She said it didn’t count if you used a sewing machine. That sooner or
    later your pieces would not line up.

    What I am starting to recall now is that while my aunt pieced
    a quilt, she gave it to my grandmother to do the hand topstitching. I had
    completely forgotten that.

    When my mother was expecting me, in the mid 1950’s, she was
    on enforced bed rest. She made her one and only quilt. That must have been a kit
    quilt like you describe. That must have been the heyday for kit quilts.

    It had embroidered panels that illustrated nursery rhymes or
    children’s stories. From a quilting perspective, very simple: but embroidering all
    those panels took time, in mostly an outline or backstitch. She did some of the
    hand top stitching but never completed it. I remember growing up with it on my
    bed. I still have it. When my parents’ house was cleared after they died, my SIL
    threw it away. But by sheer luck I saw it in the dumpster, under the trash, and
    pulled it out. It had gotten dirty; I need to clean it sometime. It’s been
    folded away since then.

  • Anne Copeland
    6 years ago

    Hi from Anne, Actually, the cross stitch and other embroidery kits were not pieced. They were what we call wholecloth quilts. You got the size of the bed with the embroidery kits. Bucilla was one of the kit companies for those kits and I think they are still available today. They had many kits and the cross stitch and other embroidery kits were really popular. It kind of went with the 50's where the people considered all the hand work to be kits. Men often did leather work and copper work (not to say women didn't do that but the men considered those manly man crafts) and the women did tole painting, crocheted bed dolls (they were plastic dolls with crocheted big skirted dresses.), crocheted and quilted potholders and some quilts were made too, but mostly people were trying to get their lives back on track to recover from WWII, and then Korea came along on the heels of WWII. And there was the communist scare, and people were busy building bomb shelters in their back yards. I wonder today how many of those are still intact? We had men returning to work and women leaving the more industrial world, though they did still work, but more things like teaching, nursing and secretarial work. There was a focus on getting women to "act like women" whatever that meant. It meant women worrying about cooking nutritious meals, housecleaning, having their hair look just right, having frilly and basically useless aprons, and very pretty dresses with shoes and purses matching and women wore gloves and hats to church and going out. People focused on banning books. Did you know that there is a list of banned books every year. In the 1950s, I think was actually an attempt to ban Nancy Drew books as being shallow and poor literature, but in reality, Nancy Drew represented the new woman, having a nice car and able to be proactive and solve crimes (they were not mostly what we could consider crimes today). I read them all, and to this day I still could go back and read them again and enjoy them as much as then. A childhood friend and I would read the same books and then act the parts in her backyard of Nancy Drew. So much fun in those days. We did not have shopping centers or plastic (i.e. credit cards) yet, so we traveled on the bus to go downtown, visit all the five and dime stores as they were called then, try on hats and go visit Mode O'Day shops. How many remember those? How truly wonderful they were. And we had layaway. It was exciting to buy something on layaway and look forward to getting it. I guess cars and appliances were sold on time payments. Did you know that the sewing machine was the first thing to be sold on time payments, and within a year of when they came out, some 75% of households had one. It is funny to see a quilt of those times, for often they were almost totally hand sewn, but they would always use the machine to show that they had one for it was prestigious. And they often hired women to sit in the store windows and sew what are recognized as heirloom quilts with fancy quilting (I actually saw an exhibit in Los Angeles of quilts Barbara Brackman, our favorite quilt expert collected, and it had one or two of those as I recall. I always say that because some days I don't recall what I had for breakfast the other day. Chuckles.

    Well, that era brings back a lot of memories. Gals wore summer dresses that were full and pretty and those underskirts that made the skirts stand out and we had matching sweater sets and beautiful straight skirts with pleats in the bottoms and other beautiful styles. When women wore pants, they often were capris with men's style shirts with sleeves rolled up and the bottoms out with curves on the sides. Saddle shoes and pedal pushers were common at school. And the men and young guys looked so cool with their duck cuts and their cool pink or gray or turquoise shirts and nice pants with belts. No bums hanging out with ugly underwear, tattoos or shaved heads or beards and long hair in braids or pulled back, which comes from the prison crowd. Ask me how I know that. I am a student of criminal justice, and next year when I am almost 75, I should graduate. Whoo hooo! So I see a lot of documentaries and photos of the criminal crowd in prisons, and that is exactly what these guys wear. Pretty ugly. I love the days when men always had nice haircuts and nice shirts and pants and they were all handsome. Have a great Thanks Giving everyone who reads this. I purposely spelled it that way. We can give thanks for all we have and we can give to those who do not. Anne always

  • myrandedserv
    5 years ago

    Not a comment but a question, probably for Annie.


    Have a 1960s Paragon quilt top that has been embrodiered, and quilted. Unfortunately, the sewing did not follow the blue dots that marked the quilting pattern. Have tried Orvus but did not work. Would Retrol Clean be the product to use or are there other suggestions?

  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    I have some pillowcases that I embroidered before my wedding over 30 years ago. The designs were iron-on transfers. Nearly all the thread has disintegrated, but those iron ons are as crisp as the day they were done! So, I'm guessing those blue marks will not come out. :)

    Donna

  • dandyrandylou
    5 years ago

    Rereading this old post because it is so interesting, and usually check in with this forum because there is so much to learn.

    Anne Copeland: I, too, collect rocks, bits of driftwood and shells, and also bird feathers. This summer I found teeny bird shells that were still beautiful even though they were the remnants of hatching. They are on a shelf behind my glassed desk doors with other gems.

    Elizabeth Hulbert: Sorry I've not answered you sooner. Am in the process of trying to learn how to post pictures, and will be happy to share. Meanwhile, simply enter putz houses on the web and you will find lots of information. If you get into it and have questions/comments, I'm at Chikkadeedeedee@gmail.com.

    Re decoupage: I just did simple things like first name letters of two great-grandchildren and covered them with Barbie pics, two battery candles covered with angels for my granddaughter, a desk box covered with dogs for my pup rescue daughter. Have not done more since but want to do a wooden wastebasket if I can find one.

  • live42dayalways
    5 years ago

    Well ladies, I'm obviously late to this discussion but am seriously hoping I'll get some advice and counsel. I have a 3 quilt problem. Quilting in our family skipped a generation. My grandmother hand pieced and quilted. My mother did neither. I fell in love with quilting in my 40's, and am a machine piece and quilter. My problem is this. My mother has 3 quilts, all of which she lovingly placed in a wooden chest in South Florida. The newest is the one I made for her with matching pieced pillow shams and is only 6 or so years old. She and I were going through the box the other day and I noticed brown spots on all 3 quilts! It is not blood, it is not mildew. From past experience, I know color catcher works and I put many of them in with a quilt. The machine pieced one can even handle agitation and standard drying, though I don't. Second quilt was made by my Great Aunt. She won the identical blocks from her quilting group and then hand quilted to a muslin back. Third was hand pieced and quilted by my Grandma. Black block background front, ecru muslin back. All have some degree of brown spotting. So much information in this entire chain. Can anyone narrow it down? FYI - I have tried the Grandma Spot Remover without much success when I pricked my finger once. Thank you so much for your help on saving these precious family heirlooms!

  • HU-112066384
    last year

    Our old quilt has the original cotton seeds within the batting...albeit the batting is almost non existent. I think the dark stains are from those seeds bleeding from humidity. I cannot get all of the stains out, no matter how hard I have tried.


  • lindac92
    last year

    I was taught that the way to tell an old quilt at a sale was to feel for the cotton seeds in the batting.
    But I have never seen stains from the seeds.