Recently I was contacted by a lady who needed a repair of her treasured vintage quilt. This quilt was unusual in that most of it was in great shape, without any damage at all. But a couple of the fabrics used in this hand pieced quilt were almost completely gone, leaving patches of exposed batting. I asked her to take the quilt to her local shop to choose fabrics for patches before mailing it to me.
She visited a quilt shop in her area and got excellent recommendations for fabrics to send with it. The colors and values chosen were perfect.
All over the quilt, patches made with three of the prints were totally disintegrated.
The surrounding fabrics were still in perfect shape.
So, this one called for a hand repair. I set the quilt up on my cutting table, with a stool so I could sit and sew. I rolled the quilt and worked methodically from left to right, checking each star and making repairs as I went.
I made a template with Golden Threads paper.
Adding seam allowance as I cut, the first patch was ready for applique over the frayed fabric. The edges are folded under and pressed, trying to get the corners sharp.
Then I pinned the patch in place, to be sure it fit properly. If it needed adjustment, I did this before I began sewing.
Hand stitching with Aurifil thread, the 50 weight is perfect for invisible stitches.
One down, and lots more to go. More than two dozen patches needed repair. To the right of the white patch is a fabric where the color is fading but it isn’t split yet. I treated those with Frey Check to preserve the original fabrics wherever possible.
In some spots, I could just restitch the patches that had come loose.
For the next patch, the grey weave print was the closest match to the original fabric.
The same procedure of making a template, cutting the patch, pressing under the edges then hand appliqueing in place was used.
There was a hole in this red fabric, and the patch fabric is such a close match that you have to look hard to see it.
One other spot on the red needed a patch. It is likely that this spot is where the quilt is grabbed more often to pull it up on a bed or over cold feet. The batting was gone in this spot but the backing was fine, so I added a scrap of batting before patching the hole.
Make a patch, pin, sew, repeat.
In this patch the fabric is totally gone.
It looked like a light color originally, so I went with the lightest brown she sent..
One section of the edge was frayed.
Because the binding was an extension of the muslin backing that was brought to the front originally, I sewed the muslin replacement to the back first.
Then I folded it to the front and hand stitched it down so it had the same look as the remaining binding.
It is a little lighter than the original muslin, but it will darken with use.
This star was in the worst shape, needing five patches. I pinned all of them at once.
After the repair, it is getting harder to tell which are new and which are original. By distributing the replacement prints over the whole quilt, new ones are disguised a bit. I finished by patching a few holes on the back side.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the whole quilt when it was done. I really thought I had, but nope. The quilt was on it’s way back to its owner in just a couple of weeks. She sent me an email later that really warmed my heart. She said “Oh my goodness. It’s impossible to tell which are original or replacements and I bought the fabric! You are an artist… I cried when I opened the box.” It is so gratifying to restore someone’s treasured heirloom especially when they are very happy with the result.
If you missed Friday’s post, I hope you’ll see that the Safelight Project is starting again for the third year. There are several ways you can get involved, and some nice prizes participants might win! Please click on the button below to see the post.
What are you working on now?