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Lost Quilt Come Home

Lost Quilt Come Home

By Maria Elkins

The Lost Quilt Come Home website  began in 1999 after a shipping company nearly lost of one of my own quilts. It was missing for almost two months before my quilt was finally recovered, but during that time, I was surprised by the wide range of emotions I felt over the loss. I also realized that I was blithely unaware of all the potential hazards a quilt might face. I started the website hoping to raise awareness among quilters so that they could take steps to protect their quilts before anything happened.

Now, more than ten years later, there are over one thousand missing quilts posted on the website. They are missing for a wide variety of reasons. Some have been stolen from cars, from homes, from quilt shows or quilt stores. Some have been accidentally left behind at hospitals, hotels, and parks. Some were lost by a friend, by a child, by an ex-spouse, by the dry cleaners, or by someone who was supposed to be repairing it or quilting it. The possibilities are endless. So what can a quilter do?

The website has numerous articles that give ideas for ways to protect quilts. I typically allow quilt guilds to reprint the articles free of charge once they ask permission. Here’s a summary of a few of them.

You can start with something as simple as writing your name on your quilt. You can write directly on the backing, embroider your name on the front, or attach a label to one corner. It is also nice to include the city and state where the quilt was made, the date it was finished, the name of the quilt, and any other interesting information you would like to include. It is helpful to include contact information such as telephone number or email, but since many people move frequently, that might not always be practical.

Be sure to take a picture of your quilt. While it might be nice to have a picture of your quilt on a bed, it is important to have a picture showing the entire quilt including the edges. It is best if you can hang your quilt so it is flat and evenly lit. While you’re taking pictures, you might as well take a picture of the label so you won’t forget what you wrote. Also, take pictures of any special characteristics or identifying features on your quilt.

From a quilt historian’s standpoint, it would be wonderful if quilters kept a file folder or envelope for each quilt they made, especially if it is an heirloom-quality quilt. I keep things like the pattern I used, scraps of fabric (which could also be helpful if a repair is needed in the future), any sketches or notes I made during the design process, any shows the quilt was displayed in and the awards it won, who I made it for or gave it to, and the pictures of the quilt. For some people, it is easiest to have a standard form to fill out for each quilt, so I created a “Quiltmaker’s Documentation Form” which I have made available free of charge on my website.

For some quilts, it may also be important to get a certified appraisal and insurance. Both antique and contemporary quilts can become quite valuable, even into the thousands of dollars. The best way to know for sure is to consult with a trained professional. While they will not consider your sentimental value, they can give an unbiased evaluation of what it would cost to replace your quilt. With a certified appraisal and proper insurance, if something ever happened to your treasured quilt, you can at least be compensated monetarily.

I invite you to come by to visit the Lost Quilt Come Home website and read about some of the missing quilts. There are many sad stories, but there are also encouraging stories of recovered quilts. I know not every quilt will be recovered, but maybe you will recognize one of the missing quilts and help return it to its rightful owner!

The website now has RSS feed and a Facebook page, so it’s easier than ever to stay updated.

 

Maria Elkins is the owner of the Lost Quilt Come Home website.  She made her first quilt in 1984, and got serious about quilt-making in the mid-1990’s.  She has enjoyed a wide variety of hand and machine techniques “as well as fusing, painting and just about anything else.”  You can see her art quilts here .

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