One of the services I offer is quilt repair of what I call well loved quilts. This quilt was by far the most damaged I have ever been asked to repair. The lady that brought it said that she had given it to her daughter and son-in-law for a wedding gift. Once I had it for a while and was able to closely work with it, I became convinced that the only way this kind of damage occurs in just 7 years was from many, many washings with a washing machine and drying in a dryer. The binding was almost destroyed, with the top layer completely coming apart all the way around the quilt, and the muslin backing was wearing thin. The tearing along one end is likely due to pulling on that end over and over, eventually tearing the weakened fabrics on the top and backing, and shredding the batting layer all across one end.
This pulling on top of the weakened fabric from over-washing likely with harsher detergents resulted in severe damage.
All on one end, the tears were terrible and went through all the layers.
The binding was disintegrating, with the top fabric layer shredded, and only the bottom layer still holding on. This isn’t rick-rack edging like I thought at first glance. It is the top layer of binding which has drawn up from repeated washings after it split.
The muslin on the backside was showing signs of stress along the other edges of the quilt, with small tears around the hand quilted hearts.
The only thing to do here is to back the most damaged sections with new muslin, and attempt to stabilize the top on the new fabric. The problem is that the quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted, so she didn’t want to back the whole quilt. The owner had paid a quilter in Franklin to do this work, likely costing hundreds of dollars. I purchased new muslin, and washed it to soften it, pinning the selvedge ends as I showed in A Brilliant Tip.
I ironed the shredded parts of the quilt top, trying to smooth out the fabric and preserve as much of the original as possible. The backside at the top was a total loss, with most of the backing simply gone.
Ironing from the top side, I could get the edges of the rips to at least close together.
What started out looking like this…
I pressed to this. Even with my best effort, it was obvious that some of the fabric was just gone on the top side too.
I loaded the washed muslin on the longarm, and floated the quilt on top, smoothing it out as best I could, trying to get the edges as close together as possible.
Tulle was place over the top, but immediately I could see this wouldn’t be enough. The damage was just too severe, and tulle isn’t strong enough to hold the edges of the torn areas together. So I cut some small patches of muslin to place over the top of the most heavily damaged sections. I added tulle over that to cover the muslin edges and the patches that were missing on the green rings, and stitched down the edges.
Using the longarm, I stitched some hearts through the tulle and muslin patches, attaching the damaged section securely to the new muslin backing.
I added more hearts to mimic the hand quilting. The template I have was a bit too large, so I did these by freehand.
These are also freehand over the tulle in one of the larger patches.
Then the time consuming work began. Removing the quilt from the frame, the muslin needed to be trimmed to just enough to turn under on the backside.
Then the long edge had to be whipped into place. The new muslin backing only covered the top 1/4 of the quilt. The owner wanted as much of the original to be kept as possible, and she didn’t want to re-quilt the entire quilt.
The new muslin backing is turned under on the backside and pinned to hand stitch down.
The hand work took almost 6 hours. See part 2 – Severely Damaged Quilt Part 2.
You can also see other quilt repair techniques on my Well Loved Quilt Repair page at the top of the blog.
What do you think so far?