Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
My brother, Mike, tells the story about visiting Great Grandma and Great Grandpa when my beloved stuffed animal, Sleepy Cat, had been left at home. At bedtime, I was inconsolable because I had never slept without my dear friend. Great Grandpa, in his kind and quiet way, walked out of the room, returned with a big fluffy slipper, and handed it to me. Problem solved.
Sleepy Cat was with me well into my adulthood when she was well past her prime.
I share this with you so you might understand that when I first saw Celia's Slippy Blanket, all worn and torn, I understood this was a well-loved, dependable, dear old friend.
Celia thought Slippy was lost for good but recently found it at the bottom of her childhood closet while helping her mother move. Celia claimed Slippy Blanket as a child when her parents didn't like how it slipped off their bed. She just loved it's slipperiness and has fond memories of its original gold background and pink roses. Several weeks after I received Slippy, Celia contacted me to explain how important the curved quilting (bottom left-hand corner of the above picture) was to her. She told me that as a child, she would trace the stitches with her finger. I had to look very closely to see what she meant, which only deepened my understanding of their bond.
As I started to work, I counted 5 past surgeries; from zig-zag to fine hand stitches to darning. For years, life has been breathed into Slippy Blanket, and now it was my turn.
Celia's primary wish was to restore Slippy to it's silky, fluffiness in either pink, grey or a combination of the two.
I knew Slippy was made from a synthetic fiber by its feel and durability. To determine which fiber I conducted a burn test. Conclusion: polyester because it melted to hard ash. (Fabric Mart has great instructions for conducting and evaluating a burn test.)
Did you know polyester fabric could be dyed at home? I didn't until I talked to the wonderful people at Dharma Trading Company. They told me about iDye Poly, and the results were fantastic. I sent the samples off in the mail and Celia settled on the raspberry color.
Slippy was dyed outside using a turkey fryer. It was great not to have the fumes in the house. I also dyed some small spools of cotton quilting thread to see if the whole spool would take the dye. Answer: Cotton does not take iPoly dye as polyester does.
Slippy was studied to determine how much usable fabric was available. Then it was graphed with movable "puzzle pieces" to determine how to remake Slippy as large as possible. Only once this was decided was any fabric cut.
The pieces were sewn using a French seam, which encases the edges. Then the seam was folded to one side and stitched again, resulting in a strong bond and design detail.
Some of the fabric pieces needed to be patched or reinforced. Rather than sew down the patches, which would affect the feel, patches were fused using iron-on webbing. I tested 4 webbings: Heat and Bond, Light Wonder Under, Heavy Wonder Under and Ultra Hold Heat and Bond. For the test, each was fused to a scrap of fabric and washed with 5 different loads of laundry. Ultra Hold Heat & Bond had the best hold but stiffened the fabric. The other three all held well without impacting the feel, so I went with Heat and Bond. I applied it on the wrong side of the fabric at every place Slippy could use some reinforcement.
Putting it together
Slippy ended up being a good-sized quilt tied with white wool yarn. The pocket in the corner is large enough to hold Slippy's Story Starter as well as Celia's chapstick and worry stone. The button is a vintage yellow rose button reminiscent of Slippy's faded roses and the roses from Celia's childhood bedroom. Two "finger" blankets were also made for Celia to keep in her pocket when life gets tough.
Best wishes to Celia and Slippy for a long and happy life together.
Have a beloved keepsake that is past its prime? Contact me so we can discuss the possibility of giving it new life!