by Mary Beth Krapil
I had just met our new neighbor. She seemed like a very nice lady. She had “heard” that I’m a quilter. She was right! But the word quilter means so many different things to so many different people. Most have a mental image of grandmotherly types sitting around a hand quilting frame. Well, we’ve come a long way from that image. Yes, I make quilts and yes, I have hand quilted a few. I have domestic machine quilted a few. But now, I quilt on my Infinity with Pro-Stitcher and my HQ Sweet Sixteen sit down longarm machine. Most people have no idea what a longarm is, or what it looks like. Another neighbor could not fathom why we finished the 1000 sq ft upper level of our home for a “sewing machine”. “How much room do you need for a sewing machine?”, he asked. His eyes grew wide when I gave him a tour of my studio; he had no idea.
Anyway, back to my sweet new neighbor. She innocently asked if I thought I could help her with a quilt. Wanting to be a nice neighbor, I said, “of course!”. I was momentarily excited that I would have a quilter for a neighbor! But my joy faded quickly as she explained. Her son-in-law had a quilt that he cherished. His grandmother made it for him. He’s had it for years. I knew where this was going and I wasn’t happy. I don’t like to repair old quilts. But I had already told her I could help. She is a new neighbor. I want to be neighborly. It’s the holiday season. Sigh. Smile.
It seems the dog, who is normally well-behaved, decided to eat the quilt. Did I think I could repair it? It would mean so much to her son-in-law. She wanted surprise him with his quilt, good as new, for Christmas. He would be so happy!
A quilt made by dear old Grandma? He’s had it since he was young? It means the world to him? It’s like this woman knew me and knew just the right things to say to soften me up and get me to do the repair! I told her I’d have to see it, but depending on how bad it was, I could probably do something with it.
She wasted no time in having her daughter bring the quilt over. Here is what it looked like:
I had high hopes that the small rolled up piece of gold fabric would fit the chunk of the gold block that was missing. There was no way I’d ever find fabric to match this. It was made from an inexpensive velvet-like fabric. It was machine pieced and hand quilted. In my conversation with daughter, I found out it was not made by her husband’s dear Granny. He bought it at a rock concert 15 or 20 years ago! But he does love it. And he is quite sentimental over it. I told her to leave it with me and I would do what I could to repair it. And, that it might not be beautiful, but I could make it usable again. She was OK with that.
On first inspection, I did not notice the smaller hole in the rust colored square. And the small piece of fabric did not fill the void in the gold square. A patch was going to be necessary. My first thought was to take a square from the backing, which was the same velvet as the top. Then replace the hole in the backing with a cotton patch or possibly some kind of label. Then I had a brainstorm (with a little help from my husband). I emailed daughter and asked her to send me a photo of the perpetrator. His name is Neptune.
To start, I unpicked the rust square to reveal how much damage was done to the batting. I also planned to turn that square 180 degrees and sew it back in. That way the hole in it would be closer to the damaged gold square.
With the rust square removed, I could proceed to patch the batting.
I hand stitched pieces of batting in place.
I needed thread colors to match the squares, so that I could hand stitch the squares back together.
Once they were stitched, I printed the photo of Neptune on fabric and hand appliqued it over the 2 holes. Amazingly, the colors of the photo blended very well with the colors in the quilt. Once the photo was stitched in place, I hand quilted the blocks in a similar fashion as the rest of the quilt. The photo needed some quilting as well to make it more secure. I took it to my Infinity and outline quilted around Neptune’s adorable face.
So now it is a one-of -a-kind quilt with a great story. I’m a firm believer that every quilt tells a story.
I did my kind Christmas deed for 2017 and I enjoyed the challenge. But I still don’t like to repair quilts!