Wow! That is gorgeous. My vote is yes, try and soak it before quilting. The stains may not come out but I'm sure you'll get a lot of dirt out.
Hi Donna, My opinion...Not before it's quilted! All those seams behind the little points might fray and besides, they'll go every which way and the top may never sit flat again. I've seen too many old quilt tops where the owner/vendor was thinking to do the right thing by washing and the tops have been pretty much ruined. I work with my old tops unwashed, then give them a good bath when they are qulted and finished.It's really gorgeous...wahat a fabulous find.
what an amazing find, I would love to make a quilt like this.I would quilt it first then wash itI agree with Kate I would be afraid of all the unraveling that would happenjust mho!Kathie
I would be a bit torn about what to do next. I would find it hard to quilt it and love it if it wasn't the quality I desired. I can see everyones point about washing it and fraying seems. But I think that soaking it would be fine, and drying on the clothes line. It might need to be ironed. But it would be good to know before putting work into it. A very dear friend of mine thought that her wedding dress was ruined, I let is soak in baking soda and it really helped. A great resource to check would be martha from www.qisforquilter.com She does alot of work with older fabrics. Best of luck and can't wait to see what you decide to do.
I think you should sell it to me! :)