Another Fixer-Upper

fixer-upper, Lori East Quilts, appraisals, vintage quilt

Yes, I have another fixer-upper. Or something. 

Not a fixer-upper like on HGTV, mind. This is no house! It’s much more manageable.

I found this little quilt top in an antique mall somewhere between here and Springfield, Illinois when I was coming home from MQX. I can’t remember exactly which one (there were several!), but I thought it was sweet. Sweet is not a word I normally use for quilts, but I think it fits this one. And, as I recall, the price was right.

It’s in pretty good shape, not perfect by any means, but definitely unwashed and fairly clean. Did I need it? Well, no. But. I bought it because it is just kind of dear. I love that the maker made her (or his) vision work. There is evidence of a mind working behind the construction, a sense of someone saying, “I want to make this thing,” and then doing just that. There is quite a bit of “make it work” stitching which, to me, makes it even more fun. This is why I laugh when people tell me that improv stitching is a new thing. Not so much!

fixer-upper, Lori East Quilts, appraisals, vintage quilt
Improv is definitely NOT a new invention

The construction has a secret. From looking at the top, you’d assume that the maker just sewed the straight-edged pieces together. But when I flipped it over, I saw all these little bits of newspaper stitched into the seams. I’m not sure why the maker chose to do it, but he or she either used the newspaper to stabilize the stitches, or foundation-pieced the whole thing.

fixer-upper, Lori East Quilts, appraisals, vintage quilt
I was surprised to see these bits of newspaper on the back

I said it’s a fixer-upper, but that’s not really true. There are a few places that I will have to work on, but not many at all. There are a couple of tears along the edges of the border, and it could stand a good pressing. Will I wash it? You probably know how I feel about that already, but I may try to do that at some point. Or not. There are enough fabrics in this that could possibly be a problem if it gets wet. That bright yellow, believe it or not, can sometimes be a mess. And, since I don’t believe in soaking a top until it’s been quilted (unless it’s too dirty to get near–and this one is not), I will wait.

fixer-upper, Lori East Quilts, appraisals, vintage quilt
There are a couple of small tears along the edges of the border

So I know you’re wondering how old it is, right? At first glance, I thought early Depression-era, meaning late 20s. And guess what? When I looked closely at the newspaper snippets, I found a date of 1928. Does that mean it was made in 1928? Well, not necessarily, but it almost certainly couldn’t have been made before that.

fixer-upper, Lori East Quilts, appraisals, vintage quilt
If you look closely, you can see that this piece of newspaper reads, “Catalogue, 1928.”

What do you think? Is it a keeper?


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  • Wendy Tuma

    Definitely a keeper! Those soft colors are just so nice. I think “make do” quilts are very cool, because I always wonder about the story behind them. Neat find!

    • Thanks, Wendy! It’s one I think “wants” to be finished…but as I said, it needs a bit of fixing up. Still, for the price, I won’t argue. 🙂