Monday, October 17, 2016

Restoration? Recovery? Salvage? Repair... Yes, Repair!

How would you define the work that this quilt needs?

A restoration? That would indicate that something old will look brand new again. A recovery?  That, to me, means that something was lost. A salvage job?  That brings to my mind a sense of "re-purposing".  A repair?  Yes, a repair - to fix that which is broken or mangled and return to a usable state.   

I would consider this quilt in DIRE need of repair... 

This quilt was delivered to me in desperate need of help...  Its 12 inch blocks were tied in the center as well as ties in the sashing strips - making the ties 6-7 inches apart, allowing it to easily be pulled apart. The "batting was a blanket... actually two blankets joined to make it long enough... I can truly appreciate the thrifty-ness of the quilt maker... I used an old blanket on the ABC Crayon Quilt that I made with my daughter years ago.

This quilt was well loved for 30+ years and the owner was not willing to put it on a closet shelf, allow it to become a "pet blanket" or toss it.  I believe it was made by his Grandma. And I can understand his desire to have it fixed and I understand it.

As I looked at it I knew immediately that it needed some quilting to stabilize it and prevent further damage.  I started with the sashing strips... One of them had a tear nearly the entire width of the quilt. (You can see this in the first picture, between the 2nd & 3rd rows)  

I simply did a wavy stitch to hold down each side of the tear and then did a straight stitch just outside of the waves to secure the fabric.  I repeated the decorative waves on all of the sashings to make all of the strips match.

I then moved onto the stars.  

I used the waves to outline the stars since some of the seams had pulled apart. This secured the seams, preventing further tears.  I started with the blocks that needed the least "help" and progressed to the others that were in dire need of repair.

The final block to receive help was this one...

The printed fabric was cotton and completely worn through... I placed the quilt on my table and made sure it laid flat.  I then traced the star point and made a template.  I dove into my stash in search of some 1980's calicos and found the perfect mate for the block!

After making sure the template was somewhat symmetrical, I proceeded to cut fabric to the proper size and pressed in the edges 1/4". 

 I pinned the points into place I hand-stitched the points over the worn points...

It all took a little patience, but it was soooooo worth it.  

I finished up with making sure the missing ties were replaced... the owner of this quilt was thrilled with the fix and ready to snuggle into bed wrapped with his Grandmother's love.

Lesson for the day?  Even when you think something is beyond repair, there is always a way to restore it... and most of the time it takes lots of patience.

Something that I noticed as I repaired this quilt was that the cotton fabrics were more worn and in worse shape than the poly-cotton blends. So, this begs the question... why do quilters prefer the cotton fabrics over the blended fabrics if the blended fabrics have a longer life?  

I realize that tradition probably plays a large part in it, as poly-cotton blends did not exist until 50's or 60's (I am far from an expert here, but taking an educated guess, based on clothing styles, etc.).

Do you have a preference for cotton?  
Do you steer clear of poly-cotton blends?  

I would love to hear from you!  Would you have tried to "save" this quilt? What approach would you have taken?  Something similar, or some other plan?  

Happy Quilting!


Watch for details about the upcoming Quiltmakers 100 Blocks Volume #14 Blog Hop!


  1. Beautiful job repairing the quilt and restoring it back to where it will continued to be loved and cherished.

  2. What a rewarding feeling to have made someone very, very, happy and to have saved someone else's hard work. Yay for you, Melva! Job well done!