Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Quilt Restoration

Last fall I had an old school mate ask me if I could restore this antique quilt top made by her grandmother. The quilt top had never been finished and was not in very good shape. There were a few missing blocks, the outer edges were frayed and the hand stitching on many of the blocks were coming apart and some of the fabric was so fragile and would need to be replaced. She indicated that she had taken it to a number of people who said it was impossible and could not be done.  I looked at the top and thought about the maker and the many hours she had spent hand piecing it and I thought about how much it meant to my friend. I thought about all my unfinished projects and how I would feel if someone took the time to finish one of them if I were not able to. It would take a lot of hard work and many hours to do. In my mind I was saying "No don't do it!" But my heart took over and I said " Yes I think I can."  I don't know if it was because my friend was told it couldn't be done or the fact that it meant so much to her that she wanted to pass this quilt top onto her daughter at her upcoming wedding. But it became my challenge for the next 6 months.

Since the blocks were foundation pieced, and  the foundation was in poor shape , I wanted to add  a new foundation to add stability to the quilt blocks. My first job was to take the quilt apart. I unstitched the quilt so I had each block separate.

Some of the blocks were in too poor condition so I set those aside. They would be used to repair the good blocks. I used a product called "Shape Flex" as the new foundation. It is a lightweight fusible interfacing that is  often used in quilts that contain embroidery. I worked really well and added a bit of body to the quilt blocks.

My next step was to repair the seams and to replace any worn out parts of the blocks. I used a tiny blanket stitch and Bottom Line thread in a color that blended in with the fabric.I restitched each seam and replaced any damaged fabric, Since the thread was very fine, it was almost invisible.


Once all the blocks were repaired, I squared up the blocks so they were slightly smaller than the original ones. By doing this I was able to trim off any of the frayed edges and make each block the same size.  I sewed the blocks back together. The restored quilt is slightly smaller than the original one. I choose a thirties fabric for a backing and cotton batting  and then machine quilted the top. I finished off the quilt by adding a label  which told of the quilt maker, and the quilts history.

Here is the daughter's reaction  when it was presented to her. I'm so glad I completed the restoration! All the time and effort was well worth her reaction.