Rebuilding a Quilt

It was my first machine-pieced quilt in the days when I barely knew anything about sewing machines apart from how to thread one and wind the bobbin (um, what has changed?). I wanted to take it to hospital with me when I was admitted one week before Son#5 was due so that I could hand quilt it but DH thought it would take up too much room. As it turned out, the air conditioning went down due to a massive storm my very first night in hospital and was not restored for several days so it would have been too hot to work on it anyway.

With a new baby at home, I'm surprised that I managed to quilt it before he turned two - since it's not a small quilt - but somehow I did.

It came with us when we moved countries and for most of its life (begun in 1993, finished in 1995) covered our sofa. Hence the reason why it began falling apart. The weight of various bodies continually sitting on it and putting strain on its fibres meant that it became old before its time. If I had rescued it when I first noticed how fragile it had become, it might have been an easier task to repair it - but I didn't. Instead I let it go ... and let it go ...

Until recently. Of course, it would have made more sense to begin repairing the holes and tears that had sprung up earlier - and in all fairness, I did consider at it but had no idea how to proceed - obviously I needed time to let the problem and solution ferment for a while.

As is often the case, the solution was quite easy. I replaced a number of badly damaged pieces simply by making a patch in the correct size and shape to cover the offending pieces, and hand appliqueing them in place. Some pieced blocks have up to half their pieces covered in this manner (and if I had used fabric that was similar to the existing pieces, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell which pieces are new - but I wasn't too concerned about keeping it looking original, hence the mish-mash of fabric choices).

Then for the large green blocks, I whipped into town with a small sample of fabric, rushed into the shop and  picked up a bolt of fabric that looked as if it would look intentional (rushing because I hadn't put money in the parking meter because I didn't think you needed to before 10 o'clock and then seeing the meter official when I was at the other end of town and realising I would have to hurry if I wanted to get back to my car before she did - it was an honest mistake: when did they change the time on parking meters on the weekend?), had the shop assistant cut it and then I paid for it, drove home, washed it, ironed it, and then cut it up and appliqued it in place. Fortunately the green blocks that needed replacing were in rows which helped make it look more intentional - to my way of thinking anyway (actually, one triangle didn't need replacing but I replaced it anyway to match what was happening in other parts of the quilt).

Now, all I have to do is decide if and how to quilt it. I've quilted the pieced blocks, being careful not to quilt through the backing and mess up the look of the quilting that can be seen there. However the downside of this method is that the quilting doesn't have the same 'puffiness' as when all three (in this case, four since I left the damaged fabric in place) layers are held together with the quilting. This is my dilemma with the large green blocks: do I want them to look 'puffy' and perhaps have quilting stitches on top of quilting stitches on the back, or do I want to preserve the integrity of the hand quilting on the back and have a less 'puffy' look on the top?

Other options for quilting include: to quilt in a complementary pattern that will not compete with the existing quilting stitches on the back; machine quilt (not keen on this option); or, leave it plain. At the moment I've decided on the last option - until I can decide what would look best and how much extra time I want to invest in the quilt.

By my estimation, I've replaced - or rebuilt - over one third of the quilt. It's taken a few hours each evening over less than ten days. Not a lot of time, really, to gain a quilt that is once again usable and which will NOT be going back on the sofa. Instead, rather than sitting on it, perhaps little bodies can snuggle up under it and enjoy its warmth and comfort on a cold night. Or, it can be used to wrap dollies and teddies when little people play 'house'. Perhaps even some big people will be glad of its extra warmth on winter nights. Whatever its use, perhaps the next twenty years or so will see it better loved than the last twenty.

And if it needs repairing, I promise to do it more promptly next time. (I'm just wondering how much of the quilt will end up being rebuilt before its life is finally over!)


Sharlene said…
It is a pretty fix. The new colours brighten the quilt. I didn't know a quilt could be repaired until you shared your quilt repairs.
Jules said…
Thank you Sharlene. So much time and energy - not to mention expense - goes into a quilt that it would be a shame to throw it out or give it to the dog without making at least some effort to save it. Still deciding whether or not to quilt those green squares ...

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