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What makes one quilt more valuable than another? How do I know that a quilt I want to buy is worth what is being asked? If I have an heirloom quilt, do I actually dare use it? How do I care for an heirloom fabric item to preserve its condition and value?
When I started quilting I wondered these things myself, so I began doing research to find out about the quilting world. There are a variety of fine resources available if you'd like to do more investigating before purchasing a quilt (see the Links page for more information), but here are some condensed answers:
Things that add value to individual quilts include uniqueness, quality of fabrics and batting, complexity of design, use of color, meticulous workmanship, having a quilter's label or signature for identification purposes, whether the quilter has won major awards for their work, age of the quilt, and of course, the amount of detail in the quilting (the stitching that holds the top, batting, and back fabric together) and piecing (assembly of the top layer). Both piecing and quilting can be done either by hand or by machine. Having the quilting done by machine does not automatically lower an item's value. It takes as much skill and practice to do high level machine quilting as it does to do hand quilting.
How much a quilt is worth is always somewhat subjective, since there can be no replacement for the wonderful wedding quilt your grandmother made that has been lost or damaged. As with any item for sale, values also fluctuate with changes in how much the 'market' is willing to pay. One of the reasons I include links to other quilters' websites is so you can educate yourself about the 'market' and be reassured that I am charging reasonable prices.
If you are investing in a VERY pricey quilt, however (e.g. $1,500 or over) and are not sure of the quilt's value, you may want to consult a quilt appraiser to make sure you're getting your money's worth. Professional quilt appraisers are certified by and listed at either the American Quilter's Society or by the Professional Association of Appraisers, Quilted Textiles group.

Care and feeding of heirloom quilts is not as difficult as you might think. American Quilter's Society has a comprehensive yet inexpensive reference (Protecting Your Quilts, $6.95) that is a must-have for serious quilt collectors. You will find a condensed quilt care set of recommendations on my Links page that are largely based on the AQS book.

My Artist's Statement may be found here.

© 2005 Denise Konicek