I am finally caught up with the repairs I had to do, and this was the most recent. The quilt was definitely in sad shape, with lots of patches that had disintegrated. The owner didn’t tell me how old it was, or I might not have accepted it for repair. I didn’t find out its age until after the repairs were done.
These black patches were severely worn. This is not an indicator of age, only use.
There were lots of worn areas on the sashing and borders too.
It almost seemed beyond repair, not worth the effort and expense. But this quilt had historic value to the owner, with a special kind of batting she wanted to preserve. Apparently it came straight from the cotton field, which should have told me it was older than the usual repair.
I began by making black patches from the fabric she sent. I rotary cut the squares, then used a plastic template to speed up the pressing process. I made so many that the plastic didn’t hold up, starting to warp from the heat.
For the larger patches, using a large clear ruler gave me the dimensions I needed to cut for the next patches.
Doing them one at a time, I cut the right size, then pressed the seam allowances under.
Pining the patch into place, I made sure that the damaged area was covered.
For some of the really small tears, I used Dritz Fray Check, then when it dried, I zigzag stitched the raw edges together.
More and more patches were made. I wanted to make all that were needed before beginning the sewing.
This corner had to be completely covered.
A long stretch of border needed patching too.
As I worked, I realized that some of the beige squares were disintegrating as well. This was not obvious as the cotton underneath was close to the same color, and there was a light streak in the print, more visible on other patches. The owner hadn’t sent any beige, so she hadn’t noticed this either. I found a fabric in my stash that was close, and emailed a picture to her to get permission to use it.
When all the patches were cut and pinned, I knew that I would have to begin the sewing with my domestic machine, as so much of the edge was involved. I needed to strengthen and stabilize the edge so it could be put on the longarm for the majority of the stitching.
After the edge of the patch was sewn down, I needed to add some quilting to the large patches. To mark the quilting lines, I used a Clover White Chaco Liner, a chalk lining tool that makes a nice thin straight line. The lines were drawn in line with the previous hand quilting.
I marked all the lines, sewed on them by machine, then removed the chalk.
In some areas, I marked over two patches in a single quilting line, and stitched it all at once.
Another corner marked and ready to be sewn.
When all the border sections were done, I loaded the quilt on the longarm, using the patched areas for the pins and clips. I then worked methodically from top to bottom, moving from left to right, stitching the edges of the patches and adding lines of quilting where needed.
Traveling between the quilting lines, I stitched over the previous line of stitching to hide this as much as possible but not have to break threads and tie off as much.
On the longarm, it was easy to use a ruler to sew the line without marking.
Argh, just when I thought I had found and cut patches for all the damage, I find another one.
I stopped, made the patch and completed this section before moving on.
Sewing the quilting lines helps large patches integrate into the quilt, continuing the hand quilting lines.
So how old was it? It was made as a wedding gift for John A Stevens and Fannie A Barrett, who were married on January 19th, 1887 in Matthews, N.C. Oh, my, it is 133 years old!! I am so glad I didn’t know this before I started. I made a label for it so future generations would know its origin, and also the year it was repaired. Please label your quilts, it is so sad not to know the maker of an heirloom, and you never know what will become an heirloom. Here it is, all done. The owner plans to keep it on a bed, and only display it.
If you have a quilt needing repair, click on my page Well Loved Quilt Repair, also accessible at the top of the blog. It has all the information you need to submit and how to contact me for repairs.
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