Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When a Quilt Wears Out...

What do you do when a quilt begins to show signs of wear and tear? Either repair it or love it til the threads no longer hold together.

It's a joyful thing to see one of my kids wrapped up in their quilt to sleep or study. It's a comfort when they are sick and want the quilt to cover them. I've repaired many a quilt belonging to my children over the years because kids tend to love their quilts to death.

If you are a quilter, it's a great excuse to go buy more fabric and design something really spectacular. But if  the quilt was given to you or inherited and you don't sew yourself, you'll want to find someone who can spruce it up for you.

I do have a couple of quilts that are in need of repair. One is a strippy quilt with very heavy quilting. Some of the stitching has come loose so it only needs re-quilting in a few spots since the fabric is still very stable.

My son's I Spy quilt, which I made for him in 2003, has a few patches that have completely worn away. Even the batting is gone in one area. Looking at it I can see that the patches that are falling apart are lower quality fabric than some of the other patches sewn into the quilt.

Back when I was collecting novelty prints for this quilt, I was more interested in the design of the fabric. I didn't understand much about the different qualities of fabric such as thread count, the hand of the fabric, or manufacturers. I could have held up a print to the light and seen how easily it showed through to get a basic idea of the thickness or thinness of the fibers.

At any rate, this quilt has been loved and used daily on my son's bed. Since he is almost 20, he might want to retire this quilt in favor of a more updated style. But if he wants it repaired, here's what I will do.

First, I will replace the worn patches by carefully trimming the worn part away. I will use a quality fabric cut in the same shape--I have tons these left over from 2003! Turn under the edge, press, insert a new piece of batting, and hand or machine applique the patch in place.

Also, when the edge is worn near the binding, it is easy to trim the original binding off. If the quilting is not too close to the edge, you can also trim a bit of the worn fabric.

On this quilt, I quilted in the ditch between all the patches. On the border, I used orange embroidery floss to hand quilt a pointed design. Since I centered it along the border, there is plenty of space to trim up the edges--in this case I could trim a bit less than an inch if necessary--and then apply a new binding.

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs

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