Texas-made, hand pieced cotton quilt top.
Texas-made, hand pieced cotton quilt top.

This pattern is called “Pickle Dish.” It was made in Texas by my client’s grandmother at least 50 years ago. All hand pieced, the workmanship is wonderful. The problem presented to me is shown in the photos below.

Pickle Dish top with stains

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Look closely and you will see little brown stains all over the quilt top. No one in the family wanted to have this top finished into a quilt. And yet…it is very beautiful and a family piece. I don’t usually like to wash a top because the seams may start to unravel, but the client said to go ahead, we had nothing to lose. It did not come clean with the gentle machine washing.

The maker may have used starch on this fabric because it was stiff and smooth. The stains are all over the thing, not uniformly, but somewhat like a spray pattern. The client gave me permission to simmer the quilt top in washing soda and All-Free and Clear. See below.

This is a 20 gallon stainless steel pot on an outdoor burner that uses propane.
This is a 20 gallon stainless steel pot on an outdoor burner that uses propane.

It maybe cooked for an hour. The water was nasty; the green tinge is probably because some of the yellow came out. Photos below show the success of this plan.

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It isn’t perfect, but the stains have washed out enough to proceed with making the quilt. I show the edge above because it was a bit of a challenge. The curved edge could have been bound and would be pretty, but we needed the finished quilt to be a little larger. So I appliqued the curved edge to a white border before taking the whole thing to a machine quilter. She does custom work on a home sewing machine, so that we got a quilt with simple quilting, letting the pieced pattern be the star of the show.

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Top is appliqued to a white border, machine quilted, and bound with white.
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