When has quilt reached the end?

My friend, Pete’s, mother, Sue, has moved and downsized and Pete is going through the POD with the last items that she couldn’t decide what to do with. He asked me to look at some of the quilts.

Pete explained that a lot of them were not family quilts. Many were salvaged from a moving crew who had used them to pad furniture during one of his parents’ moves long ago. they weren’t in good shape then and time had not made them better. Pete laid them out just before I got there. Seeing quilts on a driveway… that doesn’t happen often, does it? But the drive was clean and it did make it easy to see them all quickly.

These quilts would have been wonderful in their younger years but that was then. In the here and now, these quilts are falling apart.

It’s as if the fabric itself is giving up.

These have all been washed a lot and the cotton batting was in clumps in most of them. It makes me very happy that we have good batting today. I will be more grateful when I open my next bag of batting.

This one looked good from a distance, but up close, it too is in bad shape.

This one was worth saving, and Pete spotted a woven ‘Made by Sue Schulze’ label on the back with the date 1970. We think she did what was common in her family and finished up old blocks that had been left to her.

The outer edge isn’t bound—it has inset with big rickrack. Part of one edge is kind of chewed up and if it was me, I would just cut off the dangly parts and leave it alone. I told Pete how to wash it gently and I’ll give him some Retro Clean that might take out some of the stains.

The rest of the quilts will most likely be thrown away. I feel like I should feel worse about that than I do, but I don’t. These quilts lived productive lives and were cuddled along the way and like most things in this world, quilts will not last forever.

It’s like the universe is sending me a message…

16 thoughts on “When has quilt reached the end?

  1. There were times many years ago, that I thought that I should rescue every quilt that I found at garage sales, resale shops and the Salvation Army store. The really bad ones were repurposed into stuffed animals, pillows and other arts and crafts projects. And I still have a pile of them that I need to give to the next person that wants to “Save a Quilt”.
    I’m pretty sure that my family members do not want them as they will have newer quilts available that I have made. It’s just still sad to see them thrown away. I would rather give to the homeless shelters if they will take them or the animal rescue people. Just my opinion.

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    • You know, these wouldn’t hold up well at all if given use. The fabric is just not holding itself together.

      I had an interesting conversation with a good friend about donating quilts to organizations. You need to find out if they have a way to pass them on. Some organizations are set up for that and others aren’t. Many guilds have outreach programs that work very well in this regard.

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  2. Becky, once upon a time I was given several quilts that were pretty well used. I did find a couple of good pieces in the quilt, and framed them. Maybe there is a sun bonnet Sue that could be framed???

    Karen

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  3. There are quite a few crafters out there who re-purpose damaged quilts and use them to make things like bags, stuffed animals, etc. I am sure someone would be glad to have these quilts for that reason. I am totally into recycling, but this is not my forte, and I hope you make the effort to find someone who will use them. We do live in TX you know.

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  4. Becky, I’m with you about throwing out the old quilts. I too would have had a twinge about it but yes, while they were once loved and used now their usefulness is over. I have a friend who inherited a large number of antique quilts most of which were in shreds. She thought maybe her grandchildren would like them and asked my opinion. I told her frankly her grandchildren would not want quilts in tatters and to dispose of them. Later she asked several grandchildren if they would like the quilts and they all said heck no! They did say they would love to have her make them new ones, so that is what she is doing. She figured once she is gone the old quilts will be too so out they went!

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  5. A la Marie Kondo….Thank it for its service and then pitch it. I dont feel bad about this either. If there are any parts salvageable to make a Jacket or stuffed animal that is a different story….if anyone is up for it. Not me though!

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    • I have Marie Kondo’d my whole house, studio included. While I appreciate the love that went into those quilts, if I had made them and could see them now, I would let them go.

      To those of you who are ‘keepers’ I would say do what makes you happy. I applaud you from afar :-). >

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  6. There are actually numerous textile artists who re-purpose old, worn quilts into their work. One for example would be Mandy Pattullo of the popular Thread and Thrift blog and the book Textile Collage. While she is English, I have seen the works of many Americans on Pinterest who do similar work and sell on Etsy, etc. If my disability didn’t restrict my driving, I’d offer to drive over to Sherman from Denton and rescue them myself. I too like to use rescued textiles in my work. Hope someone will offer to keep them from being thrown away!

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  7. How sad that they were all so bad you couldn’t even cut them down to a small size quilt or pillows. I had one from family that was very bad, I cut it up and made stuffed bears. Every one was thrilled thinking I went out & bought this or made from scratch this antique stuffed bear just for their baby. I’d loved to have had a look at those quilts.

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    • You know, many comments are similar to yours and I initially thought that maybe some bits could be saved. But I was there, in person, and I’m telling you… these quilts were done. Except for that one and Pete is going to carefully wash it and save it. I’m just glad there was that one.

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