Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
To some this well loved, threadbare quilt might seem like a lost cause. It was a bit daunting when I first saw it and felt this soft, fragile, but cherished fabric.
It belongs to Cathy's son and was made by his Nanny. Cathy wanted it reworked for her grandson, Silvius, to use. We discussed several ideas and together came up with a plan of how to make a functional quilt that Silvius could use while honoring, Nanny, the original maker.
My first step was to contact a quilt expert, Susan Heydt, and ask about restoring a quilt. She educated me about sewing bridal veil netting over the quilt to hold everything in place. - the perfect technique if you simply want to preserve it. In talking to her and researching, I realized my plan was unconventional but it was the only way I could think of that had the potential of making the quilt usable again.
First I soaked the quilt in Oxyclean overnight, hoping to lift any stains and brighten the fabric. In the morning I machine washed it on gentle, handling it as little as possible because the fabric tore so easily, and hung it dry.
It hurt my heart to remove Nanna's tiny, even hand quilting but it had to be done.
Next each block was separated.
I tested both woven and fused iron-on interfacing on some of the boarder fabric to see how they would react to each other after several washings. Although both puckered a bit, the woven was chosen because it created more stability since it did not stretch. It was applied to each square.
Cathy and I had settled on the idea of printing a block for the corner. After designing it, I printed it on Tailor Sew-In Colorfast Fabric Sheets for Ink Jet Printers. The directions said to wash in cold water with no detergent and dry flat which concerned me because the quilt would need to be washable with detergent. Because I had never used this product I tested it by washing as instructed and washed it 6 more times, getting harsher each time, ending with a worst case scenario by washing it in warm water with my basement rugs. Here are the results of the test, the abused one is on the bottom and freshly printed on the top. I was pleased.
Just to be sure, I created an embroidered block, knowing it would never fade but in the end decided on the printed option. Some fading is to be expected and that will complement the original fabrics.
Each block was measure and cut individually from seven and half inches to 6 inches so I could choose the strongest fabric from each block.
The top was reassembled to match the original design while incorporating the new printed block.
Because of the interfacing, pressing the seams to one side created bulky seams so I reworked it, pressing the seams open.
Silvius's name was fused down to the top and then appliquéd by machine.
Luckily I found perfect backing fabric for this project. I layered the backing, cotton batting and top together and held them together with safety pins to make it ready for quilting. (The safety pins are designed for this. They are slightly bent so they are easy to poke through the three layers and bring back up to the top to close.)
Nanny did her quilting by hand. I used a machine but sewed in the seam as she did. This is know as "stitch in the ditch" by quilters. Kinda catchy don't you think!
Ties were replaced in each corner. Nanny used acrylic yarn but I choose wool because when wool is washed it tightens on itself, forming felt. I am hoping that the wool tassels will form cute, felted wool balls.
A photo of Silvius and his parents adorns the pocket on the back that hold his custom Story Starter booklet.
It was so much fun writing the story of his quilt for Silvius to enjoy.
I loved collaborating with Cathy on the quilt and booklet as well as testing and learning new techniques. It is such an honor to have such faith placed in me and it my hope that Silvius loves his quilt and it will be ready for another round with the next generation.
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.