Quilt Repair, Conservation Vs. Restoration


Tips About Hiring A Quilt Restoration Service

You can hire a quilt restoration service (including crazy quilts restoration), but it will usually take 6 months+ wait time. Ask for a timeline before any hire.

Fees are based on time and materials. For example, a re-embroidery will be more expensive than a general restoration. Materials are typically charged at cost.

When shipping a quilt for evaluation or restoration, we recommend packing in a plastic bag (for shipping period only) and a box with all edges sealed with packing tape. Send the quilt on a Monday so it won’t spend a weekend in a warehouse somewhere.

We recommend shipping via UPS which will ensure quilts at the amount you specify, or FedEx if the quilt is worth less than $500 (their maximum insurance on art and antiques).

You should request period fabrics or other vintage fabrics (in the case of silks) to be used. If the quilter suggests new or reproduction fabric in your quilt, they should inform you in advance and honor your decision if you choose to keep the whole quilt in period fabrics.

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Repair The Quilt Yourself

If you have some sewing skills, you may want to consider taking a restoration class and learn to do the work yourself.

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Should I Restore My Quilt?

It depends. First, you need to think about what is the past of the quilt, and what is its future?

If the quilt is a family heirloom, and the goal is to display it and there are holes that will tear more if displayed, then yes, restoration is probably a good idea.

If you plan to resell the quilt, rarely will you be able to recoup the costs of restoration unless the repair is minor. It is usually better to sell a quilt “as is” and let the final owner decide how much she wants to be restored.

Conservation vs. Restoration

The goals of conservation and restoration are different, though related. The goal of conservation is to preserve the object intact for future generations. The generally means maintaining an object with its current level of damage, but stabilizing it so the damage doesn’t get worse. The goal of restoration is to restore the quilt to visual and physical integrity similar to the way it was at some prior stage of its existence, although not necessarily to original condition.

For example, if a dog has chewed a hole in a quilt, a conservator might add a stabilizing back to the quilt and applique a crepeline patch over the hole, while a restorer would replace the backing, batting, and front fabrics that have been lost, and requilt the piece. A restorer would use fabric with the same degree of wear as the surrounding quilt.

The best decision for each quilt must be made on a case-by-case basis.

Vintage vs Reproduction Fabrics

The decision to use vintage or reproduction fabrics should be made by the quilt’s owner in consultation with the restorer. Reproduction fabrics are much less expensive than similar antique fabrics. Many are accurate for color and surface design, but many fall short in the coloring, so careful selections must be made.

Antique fabrics should be checked for strength. Avoid fabrics with any sign of dry rot or weakness.

A well-restored antique quilt using antique fabrics will generally be accepted in the antique world, while one fixed with reproduction fabrics may not be.

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How does restoration affect the value of a quilt?

Restoration hurts the historic value of a piece but can enhance the sales and useability values if done well. Replacing fabrics can hurt the sentimental value of a family quilt, but reformatting a badly damaged quilt into a small wall-hanging can allow a family member to enjoy seeing the remnant of a well-loved quilt on a daily basis.

As with everything else in restoration, each quilt must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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