Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Deconstructing a Very Damaged 19th Century French Quilt. Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was invited to visit a lock-up belonging to some dealers I know, as they had just returned from a buying trip to France. There was a pile of not very exciting textiles spread out for me to view, but what caught my eye was this very damged quilt that had been tossed aside, as if to be thrown away. I picked it up, and the dealer commented it was a such a shame it was ruined. I had a close look, and could see some different fabric peeping through the many little holes peppering the fabric, so I bought it for research, as it look quite intriguing.

In poorer days, people didn't simply buy or make another quilt when the old one began to wear out, that wasn't an option for a lot of families. The sensible thing was to re-cover the old, threadbare quilt with a new outer layer. This was not only cheaper, but must have been a less time time consuming job in the times when a woman's day was filled with chores from dawn till dusk.

This quilt is really damaged, too far gone to restore, so I will be carefully deconstructing it, and posting photos as the task progresses to find out what kind of fabrics have been used, hopefully to get a bit of an idea of the age and history of the piece.
Any thoughts about the quilt and the dates of the fabric used would be very welcome!


  1. Oh what a treasure and what fun it would be to take apart and dig deeper. I started thinking about other quilts in this condition and wondered what gems have really been tossed aside and thrown out. Any older textile is salvageable in some way. I think a lot of folks discount the beauty in a worn and threadbare piece. I have purchased these when I found them, and they have turned out to be some of my favorites. Those are such lovely textiles from what I can see. What are you going to do with them? I think it is so fascinating that they would add layers of such lovely pieces to extend the wear of a quilt. Lucky for those who find them and appreciate them as you do! Thank you for sharing this. It was more than I expected, very lovely.

  2. Thank you. Not many people would see the beauty despite the wear and tear! I think I shall carefully remove all of the green/off white side, as it is the most damaged, leaving one side still attachd to lay across to protect the rest while it is stored, but I am very curious about the fabric hidden within. If there is enough of what I suspect to be an early 1800s Indienne print inside, I may try to have the fragment framed. I am not very knowledgeable about these types of prints, but I am trying to research them. I shall post in a few days when I have revealed a bit more!

  3. textiles are so inspirational to me. I have nothing older than the 1800's to my knowledge, but toile is so interesting.

  4. This fabric is stunning! I love the colours together. I once had an antique French quilt that I took apart one day to reuse and it had a whole quilt on the inside just like this. The sewn together fragments on the inside were a wonderful surprise to find; all beautiful French florals sort of pieced together.