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Vintage and Antique quilts, blocks, and restoration

During our trip last month, we visited one of my favorite places to stop when we visit family in New England, Rocky Mountain Quilts in York, Maine. I discovered it about 13 years ago when I was searching for quilt shops in the area where my in-laws lived and discovered something truly unique.

Rocky Mountain Quilts

Rocky Mountain Quilts specializes in selling beautiful antique quilts but also in restoration of these treasures. They keep an extensive collection of vintage textiles that are used to replace and restore antique quilts.

vintage and antique quilts for sale at Rocky Mountain Quilts

They also have a huge selection of beautiful antique and vintage quilts in amazing condition that are for sale. Collectors come from around the world to buy from their stock. Here is just part of the quilts they had in stock. The quilts are carefully preserved and stored by date. On the left is a stack of quilts from the late 19th century including Victorian Crazy quilts on the bottom and quilts made from shirtings on the top. On the right is a stack of quilts from the early 20th Century. And they had quilts much older than those – all in amazing condition – that sell for 10’s of 1,000’s of dollars. 

2015-07-16Rocky Mountain Quilts does not permit photography of full quilts (you can see photos of their quilts for sale on their website) but I did get permission to take a few close up pictures to share some of the amazing vintage quilts that were there at the time. On the left is a Victorian-era log cabin quilt – most-likely foundation pieced because there was no visible quilting, made from ribbons, silks and satins. The ‘logs’ are about 1/4″ – 1/2″ wide! The backing was a lush velvet, making it a heavy quilt. It was in gorgeous condition. You can read more about it (or buy it!) here. On the right is a full quilt from the 19th century made with Quarter size hexagons.

cigar ribbon crazy quilt

This was another really unique quilt, also from the Victorian era made in the crazy-quilt style using ribbons from cigars!

Rocky Mountain Quilts York Maine

In addition to beautifully preserved quilts, Rocky Mountain quilts also sells quilt-tops, vintage linen remnants and feed-sacks, and quilt blocks.

Vintage hexagons-001

A beautifully restored antique quilt is not in my budget right now, but I did fall in love with and buy some vintage quilt blocks. I LOVE this little bundle of vintage hexagons and can’t wait to piece them together. They have 1″ sides and are such a great eclectic mix of vintage prints and patterns. Whoever put them together had a great eye! Scrappy but totally cohesive.

Vintage paper-pieced star

This vintage star is paper-pieced and I’m guessing from the early 20th Century. There were a bunch of these, but I only bought one.

Vintage newspaper paper-pieced quilt star

The star is foundation paper-pieced. Almost as wonderful as the block itself is the antique newspaper pieces used as the foundations. I was originally going to sew this star down onto solid fabric and make it into a pillow, but now I’m not sure I can take off the paper backing. We’ll see what happens to this one.

Vintage quilt blocks

Last, I couldn’t resist this pile of four-patch, hand-pieced stars. (Is that the best name for them? I don’t know.)

Hand pieced vintage quilt blocks

Here’s a glimpse of the hand-piecing on the backs.

Vintage four-patch stars

I’m guessing these are from the 1940’s based on the colors and fabrics, but I don’t know for sure. The fabrics are so wild and fun. Some of the fabrics are really cute and some are super ugly, but that’s what makes them look so fabulous all together.
Scrappy vintage quilt blocks

There are 40 blocks in the bunch. I put them up randomly on my design wall just so I could step back and get an idea of how they all look together. I kind of love it!! Not sure when, or how, I’m going to sew them all together – I’ll need to draft an interior diamond and most likely hand-piece them together – but I’d love to make a fun mini from these beauties.

It always makes me wonder who made them in the first place, and hope they’re happy to see their WIP go to a loving home.

Rocky Mountain Quilts, York, MaineIf you’re in the southern Maine area, Rocky Mountain Quilts is a really interesting and inspiring stop. Or check out their website if you’re looking to buy or just learn more about antique quilts.

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Sandy A in St. Louis
    August 12, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Thanks for the tour and information! On your 4 patch stsrs, my grandma called them Arkansas snowballs. I have also heard them called hummingbird blocks.

  • Reply
    Karen
    August 12, 2015 at 6:28 am

    what an interesting place I had not heard of this shop.

  • Reply
    Patricia Cash
    August 12, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Oh, I want to go there, love all antique hand needlework. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Patricia Cash
    August 12, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Oh, I want to go there, love all antique hand needlework.

  • Reply
    dolores
    August 12, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Why don’t you take that star block and sandwich it between that special glass and frame so you can always be able to turn it around and see the back?!:)

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      I love it! That is a great idea!

  • Reply
    linda
    August 12, 2015 at 7:27 am

    Loved this post. Some of the fabrics look so familiar, since I have quilts my grandmother made. I wish I had been interested in quilts when I inherited mine so I could have asked my Mom when they were made. I know one of them was made when I was a baby, so that would have been late 1940s. Sometimes when I’m stressing over making perfect points, I have to make myself stop and look at those quilts. Granny’s hand-piecing and quilting was not perfect, but I love that about them, especially now that I know what it takes to make a quilt. I’m blown away by the fact she cut by hand each piece and somehow knew how to sew them together to make a beautiful quilt!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      So true! Those quilts a no less treasures just because they’re not “perfect”. Sometimes I think it’s the imperfections in quilts (and people) that makes me love them more.

      And yes! Can you imagine all the hand cutting, not to mention hand-piecing?! It makes those quilts so incredible to me.

  • Reply
    Suellen Dehnke
    August 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Those four patch stars look like the stars in a periwinkle quilt.

  • Reply
    Amy
    August 12, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I’ve heard those 4 patch stars called Job’s tears, hummingbird, and Periwinkle.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 12, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Awesome!! Thanks so much! I’m going to look those up.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 13, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks Amy!

  • Reply
    L
    August 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I think I would frame the paper pieced block, with the back facing the viewer

  • Reply
    Doris
    August 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

    What a joyous post! I love seeing old quilts and the many different aspects of them. The quilts you chose to display were bright and cheery and thank you! I will not miss this gem when in the area 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca grace
    August 12, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Fascinating, Amy! I just lost an hour looking through all of the antique quilts for sale on Rocky Mountain Quilt’s web site. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    BEtH
    August 12, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I’ll probably never get to visit Maine but I loved learning about this shop and its work. And I love your purchases! I agree with Delores when she suggests framing your pp star between two sheets of glass so people can enjoy both sides. Just think what an interesting treasure that will continue to be down through the generations. I dearly love seeing the old textiles, even the super ugly ones, haha! I am looking forward to your piecing of the little Periwinkles, or whatever you choose to call them. Thanks for such an interesting post, Amy!
    Beth

  • Reply
    Karen @runsewfun
    August 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Everything about this post is what makes you a top blogger. Sharing what you saw, what you bought and why, what you think you might do with it…all beautifully photographed. This post, like those from your trip last summer, helps us learn where and how to shop – and that these places even exist. Thank you. (This is why you are winning awards – in my opinion.) GREAT POST!!!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Aww, thank you Karen. That means a lot!

  • Reply
    Carole Carr
    August 12, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Gorgeous finds!

  • Reply
    Karen
    August 13, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Your collection of 40 blocks are called Hummingbird or Periwinkle design.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks so much for the block names!

  • Reply
    gigi voegeli
    August 13, 2015 at 5:36 am

    I think those blocks are called Periwinkle or Hummingbird. I have seen Rocky Mountain Quilts website before. Eye candy!

  • Reply
    Lauren Deel
    August 13, 2015 at 6:02 am

    How neat! Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Reply
    sharon
    August 13, 2015 at 8:52 am

    swoon!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Engineering A Joyful Family
    August 14, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Wow, those are incredible! The only thing that could make them better is a glimpse into the lives of the people who made them. What a fabulous bit of history! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      August 15, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Seriously! I would love to meet the original makers!

  • Reply
    Janie
    August 14, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Thanks for sharing, Amy, what an inspiring treasure! I love the scrappy unaffected look, so much soul.
    Thanks again.

  • Reply
    Sandra Starley
    August 15, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Amy, you could scan/copy/print the foundation paper onto treated fabric and use it to the back of the pillow.

  • Reply
    Joy meadows
    August 15, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I’ve been eyeing Pie Making Day for months! Your pattern is gorgeous and I would love to win a bundle so I could make that quilt! I also love Brenda’s Word Up bundle

  • Reply
    Susanne
    August 16, 2015 at 6:50 am

    I love the oranges fabrics in the Pie Making Day bundles, I’m new to quilting, learning so many things. What fun it is.

  • Reply
    tisha @ quiltytherapy
    August 18, 2015 at 11:24 am

    This post is great, I adore old quilts. We recently visited family and saw some really old quilts. I should probably about it. My mom recently brought one of my great-grandmother’s for me to repair. I have a number of her blocks that I want to make into something very soon.

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