Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cutter quilts: New life for old quilts beyond repair?

I want to share with you an interesting concept in the world of quilting. It is called a "cutter quilt."

A cutter quilt is a portion, or a "cut" of a quilt that is no longer able to be salvaged, saved, repaired, or restored. In essence, there is nothing else that you can do with the quilt--at least in its current, uncut form. It thus gets cut into pieces, discarding those sections that are irreparable, and keeping the pieces that are still in decent condition. Cutter quilts are commonly portions of antique or vintage quilts that are so badly damaged, they might be in shreds in some portions. Yet, these quilts may have sections that are still in good enough condition to be saved and used and even repurposed. Some cutter quilts find a new life as doll quilts, table toppers, wall hangings, Christmas stockings, just to name a few. You might even be fortunate enough to find an entire quilt that is being sold as a cutter due to threadbare portions of the quilt, leaving you the opportunity to cut the quilt yourself.

Hence the birth of the cutter quilt. A cutter quilt, besides taking a textile that is no longer usable and making it usable, also has an interesting tale about its maker and the materials she had available to her. For example, many cutters of antique quilts have scraps of fabric from ties and feed sacks, for example. Some have wool batting, indicating perhaps a flock of sheep was being kept by the family, or perhaps by a neighbor. Some are fairly heavy, even for a cutter quilt (after all, the quilt would have been used in unheated homes, where the temperature inside the house could easily fall below freezing during the winter).

If you have an interest in acquiring vintage quilts and textiles, perhaps your entry to this world may be through cutter quilts. They do not cost nearly as much as an intact antique quilt, yet they are every bit as beautiful.

Photo source: Primitive Pieces of the Past

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