The quilt top was not in great condition. Somebody had, at one time, sandwiched the star (there are no setting squares or triangles) with a thick polyester batting and machine appliqued it onto a pale yellow sheet and, apparently, used it as a bedcover or throw.
Some of the stains are probably age ones from the fabrics used being from used clothes, and some of the stains are new - like blue wax candles. Some of the fabrics are very faded and worn while some are in almost new condition. I assume that the maker used a combination of old clothes, and new dressmaking scraps. I believe that quiters coud also buy scrap packs in that period. In all there are about twenty small damaged pieces.
First I gave the whole thing a gentle soak in warm water with mild dishwashing liquid (with a few colour catchers thrown in). When it was dry I took the star off it's backing. Luckily it was machine sewn with a large zig-zag.
Then I made a template from one of the diamonds and used it to check that the outer diamonds weren't too damaged or frayed. Using the template I realised that no two of the diamonds were exacly the same anyway (perhaps because the quilt has been used and washed - or were they never precise?). Despite that, the quilt does lie flat.
I have gently folded under the outer edges and loosely basted them down to protect the edges from fraying any further. As many of the fabrics are thin, I am going to applique the quilt back onto a new sheet instead of using a setting fabric. That way if they wear there will be another fabric underneath to hold the quilt together.
I plan to replace the badly stained fabrics and the very worn ones, but some of the damaged pieces have just one very small (moth?) hole. I am considering just repairing them. I can always stitch a replacement over them later. Does anyone think that is a good/bad idea? I think I can darn the tiny holes with matching thread.