Reader Advice Please

A bit ago I got an email that read:  “How are you? I hope this finds you well and warm and enjoying a  lovely holiday. I’m writing because I did a Google search regarding where to donate quilt tops and your page came up. We cleaned out my  late mother’s house this past summer, ( a hard and awful job) and were able to find good homes for most of the items….everything except an antique quilt top that must have belonged to a great aunt. My guess is it would fit a twin or maybe even a full sized bed. Nobody in the family has any interest in it and none of us here in the San Francisco area know any quilters. Clearly so much love and care has gone into making it that it would break my heart to see it go to waste. May I send it to you? It’s in pretty good shape, having never been used. Can you use it? I’m happy to mail it to you. If not you, is there some other person or organization you can recommend? ( I’ve looked around a bit and, to be honest, the various websites are so difficult to navigate and the organizations have so many rules it was off-putting). Feel free to email me a yes or a no.”

Well I said -YES and waited for a package to arrive.

A week or so later this came….

I was flabbergasted.   It’s beautiful.  It is entirely hand pieced and the work is great.

Dana sent a note saying it was made in North Dakota in the 40’s.  It was sent to California in the 70’s and is now back to the Midwest in Iowa.

The border was never completely sewn together but all the pieces are there and it’s an easy finish.

Now for the part I need advice for…..

Do I finish this up as a charity quilt??  I just feel like it might not stand up to everyday use and many washings….

It’s so beautiful.  I see it more as something a person who loves antique quilts might like.  I can see someone hand quilting this and preserving a part of quilting history (not me though)…yet I said I would find a good home for it for charity?

I just don’t know what I should do and am hoping for some advice.

42 thoughts on “Reader Advice Please”

  1. Jo, I would email the sender back and tell her your thoughts on the quilt top. I wouldn’t donate it charity as you are right that it wouldn’t hold up to a lot of use or washing. The recipient of the quilt should be a person who understands the value of the quilt–not just in money but the age and artistry that went into it’s making.
    It’s a shame that someone in the family isn’t interested in having it but they are certainly not the only family that feels that way.
    It’s a lovely piece and I’m sure you will figure out the right thing to do.

  2. Do you know of any groups that might want it to raffle off? It might then go to someone who loves it, and the charity gets the money.

  3. it seems to me that i recall a lovely daughter of yours, a nurse in training, who worked with nursing home patients. and among those was a kind older lady who loved quilts.
    I would ask your daughter if she knew of any such patients who might like to have this beauty.

  4. Could you auction it , the proceeds going to a charity of the owner’s choice? Or use the amount raised at auction to purchase fabrics and batting for your ongoing charity projects?

  5. I would finish it and then donate it to a Mennonite Relief Sale. So then it would be a charity quilt, but someone would buy it who would “care” for it.

    Probably no one in that family really realizes the treasure they have. Blessings, Gretchen

  6. I like Linda’s idea…someway sell it with the proceeds going towards your charity quilts.Then it is a win/win situation. The quilt goes to someone that will take care of it and appreciate it and money is raised for helping with charity quilts. Several quilts will benefit and there for several charities will too!

  7. What a beautiful quilt! I would finish it, set it aside to think on it. Something or someone will cross your path and you will know then.

  8. What a lovely quilt! Love the colors. I would find someone to finish the hand sewing and quilt it. Then donate it to a worthy cause that is having a raffle. It needs a home with someone who knows it’s value.

  9. I think it is too special for a charity quilt. The owner was looking for a good home for the quilt, and I think Tim Latimer would be perfect for it. He buys a lot of old quilt tops and then hand quilts them. He blogs, too. You can find him ar

  10. I agree with Linda. This quilt should be auctioned off for charity. Perhaps the family has a particular cause they’re partial to?

  11. Hi Jo,
    Have you considered the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum? They have a wonderful collection of quilts and it would be interesting to see how this one was constructed (most antique quilts are already done) and what we can learn from it. They have knowledgeable staff and resources for learning all about the history, etc., of quilts. Maybe after consulting the sender you’d consider this a possibility for a “donation”. Love your blog!

  12. My first thought was to give it to a charity to auction or raffle off. Giving some of the history and info about the construction would probably increase the ‘take’. It might also be worth dropping an email to Bonnie Hunter to get her thoughts given her pretty broad knowledge on things like this. Whatever you think might be the ultimate destination, you might drop a note to the donor telling them and asking if they have any objections, but after explaining why, I suspect they would not as long as it ends up as a worthy donation. I trust we will hear “the rest of the story” at some point?

  13. It’s yours now. I think you’re right, a donation to charity would see it ruined. If you feel the need to contact the former owner, you could tell her: After examining the quilt in person, you’ve determined the delicate and gorgeous hand quilting would not hold up to hard use it might receive as a charity donation. So, you’ve decided to seek to place it with a collector, whether a historical museum or qualified individual who would finish it. It’s such a special and unique quilt it deserves to be cherished and preserved.

  14. I would email the lady back and explain that it would not last long with a lot of wasting but ask her if she would like for me to quilt and return it to her since it was from her family’s history. If she declines, I would either raffle it or donate it yo a museum

  15. I think using it as a raffle quilt is a wonderful idea. That way someone gets the quilt who hopefully will take care of it and a charity gets the money.

  16. I would send the donor a picture of the finished quilt. After seeing the finished product, she might change her mind and want keep it. If not, I’d ask her if she has any preference about how to proceed with the quilt before making a final decision. A quilt museum would be great; or, if the quilt is raffled or auctioned off instead of donating, it might stand a better chance of going to an owner who appreciates it as a vintage item and proceeds from the sale could be put to good use too.

  17. Since the quilt is from the Midwest, would the Kalona Quilt and Textile Museum in Kalona, IA want to add it to their collection? Then the family could be credited with the donation. It would be nice to know more about who made the quilt – but it doesn’t sound like the family really knows.

  18. Please find someone to hand quilt it since it is hand pieced and from the picture it looks as though it was pieced perfectly. I agree it would not make a good charity quilt. I’m thinking, as others have suggested, donating it to a museum.

  19. Oh my! I could see me hand quilting that one! It is absolutely gorgeous! And you’re right, giving it to someone who use it and wash it a terrible thought! She is a display piece for sure! I just finished an antique GMFG that was partially started and loved it sooo much, but I had to give it back to its owner! ;( What a gem!

  20. Finish the quilt and offer it to a charity for an auction. That way the charity benefits and the quilt will be in the hands of someone who will cherish it.

  21. Winterset, IA will be opening a quilt museum I believe sometime this year. I would contact MaryAnn Fons of Love of Quilting to see if they would like the quilt. I am sure she knows the people involved in the museum project and can direct you to the correct people to contact. If they could use the quilt, they might like to have it “as is” so the making of a quilt can be explained. Please let us know what you decide to do.

  22. Why don’t you finish it off (machine quilt it) and then donate it to a charity where they can raffle it off…giving the history behind it! I think it could raise a lot of money to a worthy cause if it was advertised as an antique or vintage quilt.

  23. This quilt is too beautiful to be anywhere but in a museum. Absolutely cheerful and well made. So happy to get to see this one.

  24. I agree with Terri in BC. Donate it to a charity that so they can raffle it off. It might then go to someone who loves it, and the charity gets the money.

  25. I agree with the quilt museum idea or quilt collector. It’s a piece of history and doesn’t belong as a charity quilt in my opinion.

  26. If you used a flat batting, a sturdy backing, and quilted it 1/4″ on BOTH sides of every stitch, it should hold up nicely, though not to rough and tumble use like a utility quilt would undergo. I’d finish it if not only because of the eye appeal of the pretty print colors.

  27. Jo, I have not read all the other responses, but as a member of a large guild here in East TN, may I suggest that you finish it up and donate it to an organization that might like to raffle it off to raise money for their organization. Our guild does much community service. We provide hundreds of quilts to local hospitals for children, many quilts of valor each year, but occasionally we receive donations of particularly nice quilts. We finish them up and then donate them to one of the local organizations we support and let them use it as fund raising material. We know it goes to someone who will appreciate it, as they are generally sold at raffles or silent auctions and the charity still benefits from the proceeds, so in my opinion it is a win for everyone involved.. even the quilt. Hope this helps..

  28. Jo, it might be worth it to contact a quilt museum like the one in Nebraska or even Paducah? They might have some great ideas for what to do with this quilt top. They might even be interested. At any rate, it’s a good story.

  29. Why not check with Bonnie Hunter? I’m sure she’ll have suggestions, and maybe even a contact for a museum or other recipient that would be honored to get it.

  30. hi jo, my thoughts immediately went to either a charity sale or a raffle. that way It could be purchased by someone who would understand the value. someone a nursing home would also be a good choice. the best e ma just be a museum. the owner wanted it donated to a charity but a museum would certainly honor the maker—-it would be hard to not like that choice


    ps. I still have a small pile of art supplies to mail. I haven’t forgotten but the weather has been just horrible here

  31. I agree with most everyone else, it should go to either a museum or be raffled off for a charity that would be certain it went to someone who understands not only the history behind such a treasure, but the delicacy with which it needs to be maintained. What a treasure you have there!

  32. I wonder if she has any more information about where the relative lived in North Dakota in the 40’s. If it were me, and I could at least get a last name and town the person had lived in, I’d call that town to see if a historical society there would be interested in displaying it if they have a quilt exhibit for antique quilts made by people who used to live in their town. A few years ago I learned the town I grew up in has a small village museum and some things that were my Mom’s I donated to them. They were thrilled to get them. If you can’t locate any town name then maybe another historical society that would be interested in displaying it if they have a quilt exhibit.? And if they do, would they suggest it be completed using today’s quilting style or would they want it as is. Some of them may very well have some older members that restore older quilts and would be thrilled to see how wonderful that quilt looks even now and want to complete the borders in a way that the original person would have done.

  33. I don’t think this quilt would stand up to the rigorous use that a charity quilt is expected to withstand. Can you keep this quilt and donate another in its place? Kind of swap it out for a charity quilt that is more practical? I know that it would be loved and looked after in your home. I also like the idea of contacting a museum.

  34. Why not finish it up and then donate it to be raffled off for a good cause? It really is pretty and I’m sure someone would love to win it and some worthy cause would benefit.

  35. I would definitely contact the sender and explain why it really shouldn’t go to a charity. It is exquisite and needs to be in the hands of a hand quilter. I am not proficient yet as a quilter, but do know a quilt made with love needs to be taken care of and loved.

  36. It’s a gorgeous quilt. Some special quilter spent a lot of time to make this top. I think it should be hand quilted and go to a museum or home where it would be gently loved. Perhaps a quilt guild in Iowa would take it and hand quilt it and then use it for their raffle quilt. Those funds would then support the guild in its outreach to the community, education, and philanthropy.

  37. I agree with those who suggested the quilt go to a museum where it would be cared for and preserved. Raffling it off for charitable purposes, IMHO, would not necessarily guarantee it going to a home who would cherish it; people often buy raffle tickets more to benefit the charity than the expectation of receiving the item offered. It may also be that it never occurred to the family relative who contacted you that the quilt might be of historical value. Out of courtesy, I would contact the family member and tell them about this, if that is what you decide would be best for this lovely quilt.

  38. This quilt top seems too fragile for constant use. Perhaps it could be donated to a museum in North Dakota where the story behind the quilt and its maker would be of interest to the local area.
    I would love to see you and Kelli make a copy of the quilt. Then you could either give that to a charity or (my preference) auction it then donate the money to a charity.
    Can ot wait to see what you decide!!! Cheers Cheryl xx

  39. Auction it off or see if the sender wants to purchase it from you for your time and expertise.
    Go ahead and machine quilt it. It will look hand quilted from 6 feet away. I’ve done it with old tops and and they look fabulous and saved from the rag pile. They are much more stable and secure from machine quilting and some have a pucker or two from the imperfection of the piecing but they quilt up beautiful.

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