Dating old quilts

A true knife-edge is flat, no batting is sewn into the seam between top and backing fabrics, the edge is flat like a knife blade.This type of knife-edge treatment is in fact fairly uncommon. the batting is laid out first, then the backing goes over that (right side down) then the top goes over that (right side down) and they are machine stitched together around the perimeter, leaving one area un-stitched. the batting and backing is trimmed to match the top and the whole thing is turned inside out (or right side out) and then the opening for turning is sewn together.Barbra Brackman’s book “Clues in the Calico” and Eileen Trestain’s book “Dating Fabrics, a color guide” are among the most popular and helpful.True antique quilts will use fabrics indicative of the era they were made. Reproduction quilts are hand quilted, but not very well quilted.Another clue is when every block in the quilt is the same, in a vintage or antique patchwork quilt it is common to have a wide variety of different fabrics, it is much more unusual to have a 5 or 6 fabrics used uniformly throughout the quilt. Old batting needed to be quilted at about 1 inch apart but modern batting is constructed differently and allows quilting to be much less dense.look at the density of the quilting in the wedding ring quilt above.

There are many quilts out there that are reproduction quilts.The above quilt shows that bunching typical of the reproduction and import quilts.Here are a few more examples How should a “real” quilt look? Fabric dating is not an easy thing to do, but there are many resources available to help.This means that the batting is sewn into the seam that creates the knife-edge, and makes for a full edge. And here on wedding ring quilts some quilts add a row of stitching around the edge to simulate a piped edge some do not.

Notice the fullness in the edges, you can see where the batting is folded into the seam creating the ridge. The green top fabric is folded in as is the white backing fabric…none of the batting is sewn into the edge treatment. Here is a knife-edge on an 1800’s quilt…..notice how flat the edge is and note how the edge is stitched.

Now compare that with a reproduction quilt Now lets look at quality of the stitching. Reproduction quilting is uneven, and at a low stitch count per inch like this Quality antique quilting is more like this Now for a gallery of some reproduction quilts This Baltimore album style is mistaken for an antique very frequently.

Dating old quilts comments

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