Restored Vintage Quilt Holder

About: I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among other things.

My grandma died on my birthday this year. She was a really amazing person who collected antiques, historical artifacts, and handmade art from all over the world. One of her most amazing collections is her collection of handmade Amish quilts. Some are over 100 years old! She even gave one to me when I was younger. It's my favorite color, bright red!

Needless to say, I have been pretty sad since she died. A few weeks after her death, I found this vintage quilt rack that someone was giving away on the internet. It had some broken pieces, the wood was splitting and peeling, and someone had left it outside, so it was covered in water damage. Despite all this, it caught my eye. I liked the simple lines and the interesting grain on the wood. I decided to do this restoration project as a way to remember my grandmother.

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Step 1: Materials

Here's what I used:

  • sand paper in different grits
  • rags
  • wood conditioner
  • stain
  • clamps
  • screwdriver

If you have a power sander, this will not take you as long as it took me!

Step 2: Survey the Damage

When I picked up the quilt rack, I didn't look too closely at it until I got it home. Never look a gift horse in the mouth! There was a very broken crossbar, but what I didn't notice until I was home, was that one of the other crossbars was split lengthwise very badly.

I took the entire rack apart by unscrewing all the screws, being careful not to scrape the wood or add any more damage that I would have to fix later! I was also pleasantly surprised that none of the screws had been striped or damaged in other ways, so I kept them to reassemble when it was finished.

I cleaned off some dirt and spider webs with a rag and got ready for the first step in my plan of attack.

Step 3: Glue

Even though one of the crossbars was completely broken in two, I really wanted to use all the original materials, so I took the Glue Lesson in the Woodworking Class to see if this would even be possible.

I decided it would probably be ok to use just wood glue and not add any sort of internal support structure to repair the completely broken crossbeam. It is not responsible for carrying any considerable weight, and I was concerned I would just damage it more if I tried to drill into the enter due to the lengthwise cracking in the other crossbeam.

I followed the directions from the glue lesson and spread a thin layer of glue onto each broken side. I used gloves, but I used my finger to spread it evenly. I stuck them together and used a clamp to hold it in place. For the cracked crossbar, I used the tip of the glue bottle as well as my fingers to get as much glue into the crack as possible, clamped the cracked pieces tightly together and wiped off the excess glue that seeped out with a rag.

Then I left them alone for at least 24 hours and crossed my fingers!

Step 4: Sanding

I referenced the Sanding Lesson from the Woodworking Class prior to this step, which I found helpful.

I skipped a lot of the coarser grits because there weren't any huge, jagged edges or anything. I started with 80 grit, then 120, then 220, then finished with 320. I used a t-shirt rag to keep wiping the dust away. I mostly used sanding sponges because it was easier to hold on to and allowed me to reach the sides and small spaces inside the cutout hearts. If you have a random orbital sander, or other electric sander, this will not be a very long step. If you do what I did and hand sand the whole thing, be prepared for an upper body workout!

I paid special attention to the area with the worst water damage, cracks, and discoloration. I didn't get every blemish completely erased, but I smoothed off all the rough parts along the top and the feet, and I think a few imperfections add character. Just one of the charms of old things is the history behind it!

Step 5: Condition

This step isn't necessary for all projects, but I wanted to finish this with a nice stain, so I decided to use a wood conditioner first to help the stain apply evenly. I followed the directions on the can, which said to stir well, apply evening, let sit for 5-15 minutes then wipe away any excess with a lint free rag and apply the stain within 2 hours. I applied it with a rag, and there wasn't any excess to wipe off after 5 minutes, so I didn't need to worry about it. It probably depends on the type of wood you're using.

Step 6: Stain

I chose a light stain color, similar to what I think the original color it was stained. I applied it in a thin, even layer with a rag. You can always go darker, but it's hard to go lighter! I wanted to unique woodgrain to show up well, even though a darker stain would have hidden the imperfections and discoloration better. I still might eventually use a darker color, but I decided to leave it light for now and see how I like it.

I let the conditioner and stain dry for another day before I moved on to the next step.

Step 7: Reassemble

Finally, almost done! I reassembled all the pieces using the screws I saved originally. I screwed all of them in part way and then took turns tightening all the screws to keep the structure as square as possible.

Overall, I'm very happy with how it turned out! I think my grandma would be proud!

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    10 Discussions


    1 year ago

    My grandma has one just like this to hold the quilts she has made. Nothing more comforting than a good quilt. Great resto

    1 reply
    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    This turned out beautiful! I also love that you fixed the bar rather than replace it. It's so nice when you can keep all the parts of old pieces :)

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    I'm so sorry for your loss. My grandmother collected and liked similar things to yours. I'm sure if they had met when they were both alive, they would have been fast friends. That being said, I do believe that your grandma would be proud. Well done!

    1 reply

    Thank you! I'm grateful that I got to spend a lot of time with my grandma during the last few years of her life and got to know her more and hear a lot of her great stories!