Thursday, January 25, 2018

Antique Quilt inside an Antique Quilt - Quilt Detective Part 3

When I purchased the antique X signature quilt (Old Italian Block), I knew it was a multi-generational project because the blocks were from the 1840s or early 1850s but this wonderful faux patchwork cheater print backing was from the late 1800s (1890).

And this burgundy/claret red border was definitely newer too, also from the late 1800s. But the quilt simply appeared to have been finished later with the newer border and backing added and a thin batting and hand quilted. It wasn't at all thick and the quilting stitches were small and tight.

BUT ... it was SUPER HEAVY!! I have enough quilts to know what they should weigh especially with lowloft battings and this one was HEAVY!! And one day after recording names on several signature quilts for genealogical research, curiosity got the best of me and I grabbed a seam ripper and got to work!

I was super surprised to find a fully quilted quilt inside. A beautiful decorative furniture print chintz from about 1825 with a linen backing. No wonder it was so heavy - there were five (5) layers in the quilt: 2 fronts, 2 backings, and 1 batting. And linen is heavier than regular cotton. 

Bucks County Pennsylvania signature quilt

Unquilting it was a daunting and extremely tedious task. It was tightly hand quilted and I admit that at least one seam ripper was harmed in the process but I now have a lightweight top for my signature quilt lecture and great piece of 1890 cheater cloth and an amazing early chintz quilt!

*** Please note: I don't recommend altering antique quilts and generally I am hard pressed to even clip a loose thread from one BUT I could see that it had already been altered several times and did I mention it was HEAVY! I use my quilts in lectures and heavy quilts don't work.  But the main reason, was that the dyes on the cheater cloth backing are very unstable and bleed terribly and I didn't want the signature top or the chintz quilt damaged. ***

Please let me know if you've found anything interesting inside a quilt :) 


  1. Oh what a great find! Cyndi and I have found many such quilts in our Maine Heritage Project. Our record thus far is three quilts in one. Most are like your find where the inner quilt is much earlier than than the top. We are always surprised when we find that the inner quilt is from around the same time as the top and often in very good condition. When this happens we surmise that they just didn't like that inner quilt! Thanks for sharing your treasure. And yes, I think you did the right thing!!

  2. The is incredible! And I can't imagine the task of unpicking all of the quilting. I agree with Wendy--you made the right choice!


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