Patricia L. Cummings
|Eunice A. (Stilwell Potter)|
Some days, very interesting e-mails arrive in my inbox! Yesterday, a fellow who had visited my website sent photos of quilts reportedly made by his great-great grandmother, Eunice A. (Stilwell) Potter (1843-1906) who was born in Hector, NY. Other genealogy information was included in his note. He asks for advice as to how best to care for these recently-discovered quilts and wonders about their dates.
Portion of a Victorian Crazy Quilt made by Mrs. Potter
The first quilt photo shows a Victorian Crazy Quilt made with conjoined blocks. The embroidery along the seam lines is extensive and some of the patches are embroidered with motifs and words (such as "Love." The quilter selected many different fibers to make the quilt. The initials "E.A.P." are embroidered onto one of the patches of black velvet. The pieced fan looks from the photo as though it is constructed of silk fabrics..
William Borucki asks how best to care for the quilt which was previously stored in a plastic bag from Woolworth's Department Store. He reports having found conflicting information on the Internet as to whether quilts should be rolled or folded.
A cardboard box holds a second textile, a pieced and "tufted" comfort
(as an un-quilted bed covering is sometimes called)
"Is this quilt from the Civil War time period?" is the question on the table for this quilt.
A bed covering that is NOT a quilt! This appears to be a loom-woven spread or possibly knit (??)
William Borucki asks my advice as to how best to store these items. Here are several recommendations!
1) Get rid of the plastic bag and the cardboard box! From what I can see of the Victorian Crazy Quilt, it seems to be in fairly good condition. The optimal way to store a quilt is to store it flat. Perhaps an extra bed could be used for that purpose. Cover it with a clean white sheet to protect it from dust and do not allow sunlight to shine on the surface. Discard the idea of rolling quilts, and if they must be folded, cushion the folds with proper conservation materials, as described in my book (along with names of vendors for such products).
2) The pieced quilt reportedly has some "breaks," clearly visible in another photo that was sent in which it "looks" as though wool was used for the batting (interior lining of the quilt). The quilt may have a mouse's nest inside, for all anyone knows. If you are sentimental about the quilt and want to keep it, consider having it restored. A professional quilt restorer may be able to replace the worn/torn fabrics so that the surface of the quilt regains its integrity of construction, making it presentable to display, if that is desired.
3) Unfortunately, we cannot make old textiles new again. We can only try to save items so that they can be appreciated by others in the family or unrelated individuals who enjoy fabric study and/or quilt history (in other words, collectors).
4) Personally, I do not place monetary values (do appraisals) on quilts or textiles. However, if someone is interested in learning the potential value of a quilt, a certified quilt appraiser should be contacted. Those dedicated individuals will be happy to document the quilt, providing a full description and measurements, and providing some care information based on the types of fibers used. If one keys in PAAQT into an online search box, one can access a list of appraisers (in every state in the U.S.).
5) For more exact details on quilt care (type of storage items to purchase depending on the type of quilt, ways to display quilts, wash them, etc.), I did write a comprehensive 124 page book on the subject titled "Straight Talk about Quilt Care." Contact me for ordering details. First published in 2005 to great reviews, I revised the book slightly just this past week. It is now available only as an e-book on a CD disc (which can be read on any computer) and is sold by direct mail order [ @$19.95 plus shipping ]. For availability, write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out my updated website! I have been hard at work all week, adding new files and graphics and re-organizing all of the main index pages. I uploaded two new articles about wholecloth quilts this week, one another history article with information not previously published anywhere else by me; and a new feature article "Spotlight on Andrea Stacke" re: her wholecloth quilts, both linked from the home page.
See you in the funny papers!
Quilter's Muse Publications website