Recently, a local quilter contacted me with a dilemma. She had a family heirloom quilt in terrible shape, but her son really wanted it. She wanted to know if there was any way to save it. When she brought it over, I thought there was something that could be done, after all the backing and the background was in good shape. It was just certain fabrics that hadn’t stood the test of time. I told her that the most durable repair would take a very long time. She would need to cut new diamond shapes and applique them over the pieces that were worn away. It would also be a challenge to find a compatible print. As she stood looking at the quilt, and the enormity of the task began to sink in, I offered her one other solution. I could cover it with tulle which wouldn’t show at a distance of a few feet, and as long as the quilt was only displayed and not used, would help to preserve it for longer. She took that option, and hired me to do that repair.
You can see from the close view, that the fabric is just gone, and some of the batting underneath has worn away as well.
That same fabric is deteriorating all over. I really don’t know why this particular one is disintegrating while the others are OK. Perhaps the fiber quality wasn’t the same as the rest.
I loaded the quilt onto my longarm, and overlaid it with tulle in an ecru color that wouldn’t show much.
It creates a cover for the areas that are worn away.
I pinned large pieces that would cover the entire star section over each one.
Beginning in the middle of the stars, I quilted on the seam lines all the way around the inner star, and working my way outward by rows to the edge of the star.
Then I cut away the excess tulle, leaving about 1/8-inch excess all the way around as a seam allowance.
By using one piece, and doing the entire star, both worn areas and not worn areas, the repair isn’t as noticeable, unless you run your hands over the top of the star or look really close.
I started with the largest one in the center, then did the smaller stars around the edge.
All finished, from a distance, the white areas almost look like fabric.
The smaller stars are all protected from further deterioration.
A couple of the stars were in better shape, but I still did the entire star for consistency.
One more small star, same tulle over the top.
So, all done. She came by with her son who was greatly pleased that he would be able to have this on a bed again.
I did tell them not to sit on it anymore, or use it like they may have before. The tulle isn’t very strong, but would hopefully make it possible for the family to enjoy the quilt longer. I love working on quilts that are well-loved. It is so much better to love it to pieces rather than hide it away in a drawer wrapped in tissue paper. Don’t you agree?
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