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Vintage Quilt Restoration: Part 2
In the last newsletter, I began a different quilt journey, detouring from my quilting goals for the year. I found a vintage quilt in our storage area, here at Annie's, while cleaning and sorting. It was a Sunbonnet Sue quilt. It was stained terribly but in good condition. I couldn't stop thinking about the cute quilt. After doing a bit of checking and finding out that no one knew who it had once belonged to, I decided to try to restore it. The feed-sack fabrics were in good condition, and someone obviously had put a lot of work into it. The entire quilt was hand-pieced, appliqued and quilted.
After soaking it for two days in a fabulous product, Retro Clean, I am proud to say the stains are all gone and the fabric has held up very well. It was amazing just how wonderfully this product removed the years of yellowing and the stains. Unfortunately, when I washed the quilt on a gentle cycle after the soaking, the threads on much of the applique just fell apart. I never thought that the thread could be rotten.
|The rotten thread on the applique just fell apart after I washed it on the gentle cycle, but the fabrics were still in mint condition.|
I felt very bad about the quilt and set it out to dry flat on towels. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to make the repairs, if possible. Someone had made this beautiful quilt many years ago, and though it isn't what I usually choose to quilt and really isn't my style, it deserved to be restored. Someone had put a lot of time and love into it. The fabrics were nicely coordinated, and the stitching was nice and neatly done.
By the time the quilt was dry, I had a plan. Each applique had a black running stitch accent around it. This would be the first thing I needed to replace since I would have to work on the quilt strictly from the front. With tweezers in hand, I began to carefully remove the rotten and broken threads. Actually, with the applique pieces loose, I found it much easier to stitch the black thread accents. I was able to hide my knots under the pieces easily. The stitches I replaced were made with a size-standard thread, probably a 50 wt.
|I picked out the rotten black thread piece by piece.|
Working from the front of a quilt, making repairs requires planning. Where I started and stopped made a difference when I had to worry about hiding the starting position of the thread. I also found it much easier to follow the original quilter's path if I removed only an inch at a time of the stitching and replaced it as I went. I carefully replaced all the broken black stitching and any that appeared to be damaged. It didn't take a lot of time. Once all the black stitches were repaired, I began to slip-stitch the applique back into place. The more I worked on it, the more I appreciated the time and effort that had originally gone into the making of the quilt. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the restoration. I spent a snowy afternoon watching the Lifetime Channel and making the repairs. This is something I rarely do, but what a treat it was.
|This is one of the twelve blocks after the repairs were complete.|
My only regret is that I probably will never know who made this darling quilt. It may not have been on my Quilting to Do list, but I feel wonderful about restoring it. The Retro Clean did an excellent job of removing the yellowing and the stains. If you have a quilt in need of some tender loving care, maybe you should think about spending a little time on a lazy afternoon bonding with it. I highly recommend the experience.
|This is the quilt after the repairs were completed.|
One other thing I love to do is to use my quilting in ways that help others. I have more quilts than I can possibly ever use, so in order to justify my continuing obsession, I've found that donating many of my quilts to deserving charities of my choosing is a wonderful way to give back. We all have something to be grateful for. If you're looking for a worthy cause and live in or around Omaha, Neb., here's one that assists the American Heart Association.
Have a Heart, Make a Quilt
Jan. 24 - Feb. 28, 2013
AccuQuilt's Omaha Headquarters
Visit AccuQuilt.com for more information.