It's hard to see in these photos, but the top row was badly stained and the fabric had torn in multiple places.
I decided to cut down the borders on all sides, remove the top row, use some of the fabric from the borders I'd removed to add a border to the now new top row, patch the three sashing strips that still had small tears, and then add a new binding. (Pile of fabric top left in photo below is what was removed.)
Making that first cut was the scariest: no going back once the rotary cutter had removed a strip 10cm/4" wide. The difference in colour due to fading between the top and bottom and the sides of the quilt was quite substantial. It's noticeable especially on the back where I had to join a strip in, and where I patched the sashing.
I also inadvertently used the wrong side of one piece of fabric to patch a hole and not only is it brighter but it also contains old pencil marks from where I must have marked out sewing or cutting lines all those years ago. (In my experience, homespun usually does not have an obvious right or wrong side but when one side has been inside a quilt and hidden from light for over twenty years, it tends to be brighter and fresher than the side that has been exposed to light and air and other elements.)
I decided to leave it, though, as it's a reminder of all that went into this quilt: my first quilting class and therefore my first quilt; the lovely ladies I met; sitting down to quilt and watching the Gulf War unfold on the news; struggling with morning sickness (when piecing) and then back pain (when putting it all together); vowing never to make another quilt again; having no idea how to bind the edges and just turning the backing over to the front (see, I've since learnt how to sew on bias binding); the years it graced our bed and then the years it was put aside waiting for some remedial action; the children who have jumped on it and probably spewed on it and wet on it and whatever else children do to patchwork quilts (there are a few stains that remain that suggest a few blood noses or toes); the softness of the fabric from multiple washings (in comparison, the binding fabric seems very coarse); the reminder that there was a time when we never needed quilts or blankets on our beds in summer (hence the lightweight batting); and many other hopes and dreams and memories from the past twenty-four years.
I still have to finish hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt, but already I'm thinking it looks fresher and as if it's been given a new lease of life. Agree?