Feb 092012

Barbara Zak holding up her Aunts recently restored quilt


Recently I received a call from Barbara regarding a very fragile quilt she had found in her aunts closet shortly after her Aunt Joyce’s passing.  Barb told me that the story of the quilt is a mystery.  While Cleaning out Aunt Joyce’s condo in florida after her passing, the quilt was discovered sitting on a shelf in a closet.  Its condition was a little rough, but Barbara felt it must have meant something to her Aunt Joyce if she had saved it over the years. Uncertain if it was from her mothers side or her fathers side, or possibly she obtained it by another means.  Barbs Aunt Joyce passed in 2004  and the quilt took its rightful in Barbara’s closet this time.

November 2011 brought a welcome advertisement through a small community paper.  I had put in one of the first ads for my long arm/quilt restoration/ quilt piecing classes.  Barbara had happened to see the ad and contacted me.  On our first meeting we closely examined the quilt and found that many pieces of this quilt were quite fragile.  There were holes and tears caused from fraying.  We came to the conclusion that this quilt would be salvaged and it would take a bit of tlc.

Our first step in repairing Joyce’s quilt would be stabilizing the unstable fabric.  I taught Barbara how to do this with shape flex by pellon.  It would be less expensive for Barbara and I felt she would feel a sense of pride and connected with the quilt process.  She began this process knowing that her first step would be untying and ripping stitches to get to the quilt.  We had decided that we would do everything possible to use the backing again.

Shortly after Christmas I received a call from Barbara, she had nearly finished her portion of the quilt.  It was mostly stabilized, and ready for the next step.  We had taken one of the rows of blocks off the bottom and utilized them throughout the damaged quilt.

Barbara dropped off the quilt and backing to me and I was to begin the next process.  I placed the blocks in place, ripping out a few stitches to adjoining blocks.  I felt this was the best way to maintain the integrity of the original quilt and keep seams properly stitched , avoiding puckering and keeping quilt square.  There were a few squares that I had to sew the center into the already constructed block, I used the same process for these blocks.

Now it was time to load it onto my machine, we needed to be sure it was placed perfectly so that we could duplicate the original construction.  Joyce, or whoever had made it, had a 4 inch over-lapping binding, with mitered corners. I measured and parked with pins, basted and prayed.  I got my first row done on the quilt, and as God had said on the seventh day….It was Good.  As I started the second row, something was awry with my machine.  The stitches were inconsistent and skipping stitches.  I pulled the machine off the table and brought it in, it was out of time.  The good people at Creations Quilt Shop, aka Dick Dado, repaired it for me and I was back to work by 5 pm that evening.

The next stitches were perfect.  The quilt was square and when I was finished, the backing was perfectly ready for the final touch.  I folded over the backing to the front just as it had originally been and finished it off.

Joyce’s Quilt had been rescued, and “brought out of the closet” and into a wonderful new life as an accent cover in a guest bedroom.  It was an honor and a joy to be a part of the rebirth of this quilt.  I have made a new friend in Barbara.  I am hoping she takes to this quilting life, it’s pretty apparent that she is a natural. Perhaps she should start a quilt and someday it will be discovered in a distant relatives closet and … well you know the story.  😉

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