Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vintage Baby Quilt

Not so long ago a colleague brought a darling little baby quilt to me at the request of his mom.  During the summer we discussed the possibility of my repairing it for her.  After determining that her main  goal is to salvage it so that it can be used when her grandchildren visit, I suggested that we add a new backing and stipple the entire quilt on the long arm.  

I was concerned that doing so would devalue the vintage quilt, which her grandmother-in-law made many years ago.  She assured me that the important thing is that the grandchildren be able to nap under the quilt and that it last as long as possible.  She's a true believer that using quilts is a way of honoring the maker.

I agree with her, but I also like to preserve quilts for future generations and for study.  This cute quilt had been hand appliqued and hand quilted, so I wanted very much to allow the hand work to show despite the machine quilting.  

I chose to use Superior Threads' Bottom Line in light gray for both the bobbin thread and the top thread because it blends so beautifully with the off-white aged top and barely shows on the gingham appliques even though they are different pastel colors.

Unfortunately, some of the appliques are quite tattered.  I decided not to replace them because I want this to still be the grandmother's quilt and, especially, her handwork.  To compensate for these appliques, I  stippled all the appliques in a small stipple design after going around the outside edges.

The tattered appliques I treated exactly the same as those in good condition except that I was extra careful in working a tiny stipple design in the areas that are already torn and frayed.  My hope is that the extra stitches will hold the applique pieces in place for a few years longer than if they were just stitched down normally.

The only problem that this may have caused is that the quilt is a bit more stiff than I had hoped it would be, but once it's been washed a few times, it should be soft and cuddly again.

The appliques are stitched down in a blanket stitch with black embroidery thread.  Some of the details of the little animals are also embroidered with the black thread.  

Using a stipple stitch allowed me to ignore the details of the embroidery and just tack the layers together.  This leaves the embroidery floss to do its intended job and highlight the animals.

Now that the quilt is complete, I am satisfied that it will last for several more years.  The new backing and extra layer of batting helped to stabilize the top and applique.  But most importantly, the grandmother's work shines through and her entire quilt is still intact. 

The maker turned the backing to the front for her binding, which means it's only one layer of fabric and had small holes in a few spots.  To resolve this problem, I decided to use her method but instead of turning the new backing to the front of the quilt where it would show, I turned it to the middle tucked it behind the original binding.  

I stitched very close to the edge then stippled the binding on my Bernina using the BSR (stitch regulator).  This way I could add extra stitches where the holes are, the stippling matches throughout the quilt, and the binding still shows on the top of the quilt.  That the binding shows is extra important since the yellow fabric for the binding is also the fabric in the sashing.  

I don't have photos of the whole quilt because it won't be delivered till Monday and I don't want to show it until then.  But I think there are enough photos here for you to see how darling the little quilt is.  

I've decided not to put a label on this one.  It's not my quilt and while I had a part in helping the family to make sure it will be around for a while longer, I want my part to be forgotten.  Would you include a label or leave that to the family?  

Did you notice the mistake in the last photo?  Look at the whale.  It's making a flip, I guess, because it's upside down!  How wonderful is that?  To have a vintage quilt from their grandmother and for it to be so personal, handmade, and yes, signed in her hand.  Unfortunately, her signature had to be covered since it's on the back, but I will tell the owner where it is, in case she wants to include that info with the quilt.  


Carla said...

Great job on the restoration! I had the priviledge of restoring one this summer too. I loved working on someone else's treasure : )

jenclair said...

What a treasured! You've done a great job with this one, Mary, and I'm sure that it will be cherished by the children who get to nap with it!