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Where to Buy a Vintage Quilt, Cheaply!
Antique quilts can be hand or machine quilted.
5 Places to Look for a Used Vintage Quilt
Vintage quilts can be expensive; but, being on a budget doesn’t have to keep you from owning one. If you are satisfied to buy a pre-owned quilt, or want one with historic value, and you enjoy a treasure hunt, there are five excellent places to look.
Start At Your Local Thrift Store
Thrift store prices are usually quite low and you may be able to find your quilt here for $20 dollars or less. Generally, thrift stores have one or two days a week when the new bedding is put out. Ask the clerk which day this occurs and be there early to shop. The sky is the limit as far as the type and quality of quilt that you can find here. Examine the item carefully. Look for tears, stains, and other kinds of damage. Avoid permanent stains such as blood, grass, nail polish, and permanent marker; the kind of stains most often found on bedding. Smoke odors and most other stains can be treated and laundered out of the item. Look to see if there are small tears or loosened threads that can be repaired.
Estate and Yard Sales
Many parts of the country hold family-coordinated estate sales’ events. Don’t confuse these with estate auctions which are usually coordinated by an auction house or real estate company. These companies have experts available who know exactly how much a quilt is worth and price accordingly. Often you can buy a quilt from an estate sale for the same price, or less, than auctioneers at an estate auction start the bidding on. An estate sale offers the opportunity to pay a fair price. Community and highway yard sales are good places to look for more of a selection. A highway sale is a series of yard sales set up along the roadside and are held spring through fall. Be wary of fading on parts of the quilt if it has been sitting for a long period in the sun.
Price Ranges For Vintage Quilts
Thrift Store/Estate/Yard Sale
Craft Fair /Online auction
Specialty Quilt Venues
Craft Fairs and Farmers' Markets
Many craft fairs will have a few pre-owned or vintage quilts for sale. Quilters are quilt-lovers and usually buy quilts to keep or for resale. Amish and Mennonite communities sometimes have vintage quilts for sale at local farmers’ markets and craft fairs, though they will most often have new quilts and quilt tops for sale. The key is to talk to the vendors. They will usually have a business card and will call you if they find one like you are looking for. Farmer’s markets sometimes have hand-crafted items for sale along with the produce. Again, it can’t hurt to talk to the vendors about what you are looking for if they have similar items for sale. Quilts from these venues may be of a higher quality and skill, so look to pay a bit more for them.
Other sources for inexpensive quilts can be found on etsy, Craigslist, department and antique stores, eBay and other auction sites; but, be aware that the listings are competitively priced. A good practice is to contact the seller and ask questions like whether the quilt has cotton or synthetic batting (older quilts will be cotton), is machine made, is pilling, or is factory made. Quilting associations and specialty stores offer hundreds of vintage quilts for sale in many price ranges. Beware that you don’t fall in love with a quilt that is out of your budget!
Aunt Fannie's Closet
Have you thought about asking family members if they have one they may not want anymore? They may be pleased to let you have them and happy to free up some room in the closet!
A Word of Caution: quilts that are factory made are rarely the quality of homemade quilts. The fabric is often cheaply made and will lose its color and become fragile with time. If you want an heirloom quality quilt that will last over time, it’s best to buy homemade; either hand-stitched or machine-made. Remember that it’s a good idea to have your quilt appraised if you think it could be valuable.