What to Do When You Inherit an Unfinished Quilt
Not all antique quilt tops or blocks need to be finished to be put on display. But if you decide an inherited or purchased project should be completed, these suggestions may help you get the project out of the box and ready for its debut.
If the Pieced Quilt Top is In Good Shape
If all seams are intact, you can finish it as you would if it were a contemporary pieced quilt top you made. Choose a backing fabric and either machine quilt it, send it to a longarm quilter, or if it was hand-pieced and you have the time, you may want to hand quilt it to keep the integrity of the original quilt. However, there is nothing wrong with machine quilting a hand-pieced quilt top.
If the Pieced Quilt Top Has Some Damage
Determine whether just fixing seams will take care of the problems. If there is damage to the fabric in places, you can take it apart and replace the damaged pieces with new fabric that is similar in color or print. Or you can apply applique "patches" over small holes using a lightweight fusible to keep fabrics from unraveling. You can also dismantle a large quilt to create smaller projects using the areas that are not damaged.
If All You Have is a Bunch of Blocks
It's not uncommon to find a pile of blocks, assembled to be put into one quilt that never got made. If it's a common block, you can continue to make blocks in the same style of the original blocks, then piece them all into a finished quilt. You may consider piecing the blocks into smaller projects like as a focal point on a pillow, or frame the blocks as antique wall art.
If you do decide to recuse another quilter's UFO, whether it is a vintage top, orphan blocks, or something made within the last few years, just keep in mind that making it into something finished is what is really important. How you finish it is secondary. Think of it as honoring the quilter who started the project by turning her or his work into something useful and loved.