I put a vintage quilt in my washer and it didn’t die

I didn’t die, either (though you wouldn’t know it from my prolonged absence from this blog). Thank you, faithful readers, for coming back to look day after day after day!

A few weeks ago I bought a vintage quilt on eBay. A crazy colored quilt. A cheap quilt that no one else wanted. But I think it’s flat out wonderful.

red orange black vintage tumbling blocksquilt

Of COURSE red and orange and teal and black go together. Love at first sight.

Technically this is a comforter, not a quilt, because it’s tied, not quilted.

I think it has an old woolen blanket inside for the batting. It’s surprisingly heavy. The shipping cost nearly as much as the quilt.

Are they tumbling blocks? Big stars? Pieced hexagons? I love how my brain can't decide.

Are they tumbling blocks? Big stars? Pieced hexagons? My brain can’t decide.

The fabric on the back is what really sold me on it.

back of vintage quilt

I love a huge floral! Maybe this was curtain or upholstery fabric. The colors are great with the patchwork on the opposite side.

The description said something about “needs cleaning” which is just a euphemism for “smells manky,” because it wasn’t dirty. I don’t think it had ever been used–the fabric was crispy and clean except for the musty attic or basement odor. I suspected the smell was coming from the blanket used inside as batting.

I knew it would have to be washed, not just aired out. So I put it in the washer. (I am NOT recommending that you put YOUR vintage quilt in the washer.) I risked it with this quilt because it was completely machine sewn. I was hoping the seams would be strong enough to hold up to light agitation and spinning. I was also hoping that the dye in the red and orange fabrics wouldn’t bleed. So much could go so wrong…

I dumped in a heaping cup of baking soda and a small amount of detergent into the washer as it filled, then added the quilt.

vintage quilt in the washer

It’s soaking, not swishing.

I let it soak for a few hours, then spun out the water and refilled the washer with plain water. Rinse, soak, repeat! Rinse, soak, repeat! It took about five additional soaks in plain water before the rinse water was running out clear. I added a heaping cup of white vinegar to the sixth and final soak. The musty smell was nearly undetectable at that point.

The final step was to hang it outside in the sun to dry. It was the first day this year when the temperature climbed above freezing. (Again, don’t line dry YOUR vintage quilt if you can spread it out flat somewhere safe from animals and people.)

vintage quilt drying on line

I know line drying is hard on seams, but it’s my only option. I don’t have a yard big enough to spread out a quilt. I don’t even have a proper clothesline.

After a day in the air it was smelling as fresh as anything can get here in the city. It was ready to meet the guest room.

vintage quilt and hooked rug

Color clashing wonderfulness!

You’ll just have to imagine the deep red walls and orange velveteen curtains!


6 Comments on “I put a vintage quilt in my washer and it didn’t die”

  1. Hannah says:

    Hooray! They’re back!

  2. Ilona, I used to have a whole bed set with that floral print. I still have the sheets, but I think I sold the comforter at a garage sale!