Mending Hearts and Handmade Quilts

28 Nov 2013

I'm so thankful to be a member of the quilting community. Not only do I learn something every day from all of you, but in my experience, quilters will always go the extra mile to help someone out-especially if they can share their love of quilting in the process.

handmade quilt repaired
L to R: Anita Cook, Rose DeBoer, and Kristine Lundblad
hold the handmade quilt that once had a hole chewed in it.

An example of that happened right in the Quilting Arts offices recently. One of our graphic artists, Anita Cook, brought in an heirloom Sawtooth Star handmade quilt that had been severely damaged.

"The quilt was made by my great-grandmother. It was given to me after my great-aunt passed away because she had never had children of her own. I treasured the quilt and loved the colors in it. It was placed at the foot of my bed.

"I had recently adopted a 6-year old golden retriever. One morning I awoke to the sounds of chewing. There was now a huge hole in the center of my treasured quilt," Anita said.

When she came to work at Interweave a few months ago, she brought the quilt in to Quilting Arts Assistant Editor Kristine Lundblad and Managing Editor Rose DeBoer to see if anything could be done to save it.

The women put their heads together and came up with a plan. Though they couldn't make an archival restoration, they thought they could repair the quilt in a way that would allow Anita to enjoy the quilt on her bed for years to come.

They agreed to remove a corner of the quilt and use it to replace the hole. Kristine took the quilt home and detached the binding from the damaged corner. Rose then took off the corner and made the repairs.

"The scariest part--and I held onto the quilt for weeks working up the gumption--was snipping the threads to remove the new pieces that I was going to use to patch in the chewed-up sections. Once I settled down to do the work, it took on its own pleasant rhythms," said Rose.

"It was humbling--very humbling--to try to replicate the hand quilting on the adjacent quilt squares. And I am so thankful to be a part of this quilt's journey," she added.

hand quilting repair
Can you spot where the original
hand quilting meets the repair?

Anita showed us the repaired quilt at our weekly office show-and-tell. The staff members from Stitch and Cloth Paper Scissors--who all sew--peered at the quilt in wonder: most couldn't see where they quilt had been mended.

For Anita, the seamless mending by her colleagues extends beyond the quilt.

"I am actually a very sentimental person. To have a piece that was handmade by my grandmother meant so much and then to see it damaged broke my heart. Having it repaired and usable again means that I have a piece of who I am back," she said.

Anita's quilt now has a deeper and richer story to tell: it is a physical reminder of the kindness and generosity of her coworkers, and will always be treasured for that aspect as well as the sentimental value of its origin. Wouldn't her great-grandmother be proud? That was probably my favorite show-and-tell all year.


P.S. Do you have a sentimental story about a quilt? Tell me about it in the space below.


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Comments

on 2 Dec 2013 12:02 AM

Hello Vivika

The following is my sentimental quilt story...

My sister in law recently sent me a quilt top that had been made by my grandmother.  It is made of silks and velvet and is in very delicate condition.  I was vaguely aware of this quilt top's existence.  My grandmother, who died in 1954, must have started it at least 70 or 75 years ago.  After my grandmothers death, my mother kept the quilt top in her cedar chest, occasionally saying that she had plans to finish it but being a little daunted by the size and condition, she never did.

When my sister in law began quilting thirty years ago, the quilt top was given into her care.  She has made many lovely quilts over the years but didn't finish the silk quilt top.

I started quilting in 2000.  I guess my sister in law felt that is was my turn to be the keeper of the quilt top.  It is such a treasure to have!  I find the variety of fabrics fascinating and wonder what they were in a previous life; dresses, blouses, ties?  I can't imagine my grandmother having such an extensive wardrobe, so where did all these bits of silk and velvet come from?

The quilt is a log cabin pattern and has been machine pieced onto various pieces of cotton or linen, shirts perhaps?  Quite contrary to today's mantra of the "scant quarter inch" the blocks don't line up exactly.  I love that when a piece was a little shy of what was needed, my grandmother just sewing in another small piece of similar colour to make it work.  The overall effect is lovely and to my eye, the colours seem well balanced.  As I look at this beautiful quilt with it's imperfections, I think that I should be a little kinder to myself when I view my own work.

Being able to hold this little piece of my family's history in my hands and to see my grandmother's basting stitches along the edge of the quilt has been a thrill.  I know that I will never finish this quilt, nor do I think I should at this stage of it's existence.  My husband thinks that I should be searching out a home for it, perhaps offering it to the quilt museum in La Connor, Washington.  But I'd like to expand upon my sister in law's idea.  She carefully extracted a corner block of the quilt before sending it on to me.  Her plans are to frame it for her sewing room.

I'm the last living granddaughter of the maker of this quilt, but there are several great granddaughters and probably many great great granddaughters who might enjoy having a little block of family and quilting history.  There are 71 blocks to be shared.  I've already begun soliciting the family to see who might appreciate and enjoy having one of these blocks.  But before I begin to take this quilt apart, I wanted to share my story with you.

regards

Billie Hobkirk, Surrey, BC, Canada

on 2 Dec 2013 12:02 AM

Hello Vivika

The following is my sentimental quilt story...

My sister in law recently sent me a quilt top that had been made by my grandmother.  It is made of silks and velvet and is in very delicate condition.  I was vaguely aware of this quilt top's existence.  My grandmother, who died in 1954, must have started it at least 70 or 75 years ago.  After my grandmothers death, my mother kept the quilt top in her cedar chest, occasionally saying that she had plans to finish it but being a little daunted by the size and condition, she never did.

When my sister in law began quilting thirty years ago, the quilt top was given into her care.  She has made many lovely quilts over the years but didn't finish the silk quilt top.

I started quilting in 2000.  I guess my sister in law felt that is was my turn to be the keeper of the quilt top.  It is such a treasure to have!  I find the variety of fabrics fascinating and wonder what they were in a previous life; dresses, blouses, ties?  I can't imagine my grandmother having such an extensive wardrobe, so where did all these bits of silk and velvet come from?

The quilt is a log cabin pattern and has been machine pieced onto various pieces of cotton or linen, shirts perhaps?  Quite contrary to today's mantra of the "scant quarter inch" the blocks don't line up exactly.  I love that when a piece was a little shy of what was needed, my grandmother just sewing in another small piece of similar colour to make it work.  The overall effect is lovely and to my eye, the colours seem well balanced.  As I look at this beautiful quilt with it's imperfections, I think that I should be a little kinder to myself when I view my own work.

Being able to hold this little piece of my family's history in my hands and to see my grandmother's basting stitches along the edge of the quilt has been a thrill.  I know that I will never finish this quilt, nor do I think I should at this stage of it's existence.  My husband thinks that I should be searching out a home for it, perhaps offering it to the quilt museum in La Connor, Washington.  But I'd like to expand upon my sister in law's idea.  She carefully extracted a corner block of the quilt before sending it on to me.  Her plans are to frame it for her sewing room.

I'm the last living granddaughter of the maker of this quilt, but there are several great granddaughters and probably many great great granddaughters who might enjoy having a little block of family and quilting history.  There are 71 blocks to be shared.  I've already begun soliciting the family to see who might appreciate and enjoy having one of these blocks.  But before I begin to take this quilt apart, I wanted to share my story with you.

regards

Billie Hobkirk, Surrey, BC, Canada

Rosismom wrote
on 9 Dec 2013 6:21 PM

I understood that you were taking a corner block to repair the damaged block.  What did you do to replace that corner block?

I must have missed something!

Rosismom wrote
on 9 Dec 2013 6:22 PM

I understood that you were taking a corner block to repair the damaged block.  What did you do to replace that corner block?

I must have missed something!

Mydoglovesme wrote
on 17 Dec 2013 10:05 PM

I have a much loved quilt from my grandmother that she made for me when I was born as well as a quilt that was made by my favorite aunt when I was married.  The first quilt (bow tie pattern) got singed badly by a faulty mattress pad..  I was heartbroken!  The other one was so loved and used that shows some wear.  I believe it was also on the bed when the mattress pad malfunctioned.  does anyone know who would be able to repair these wonderful quilts?  I could find no one locally (St. Louis, MO) or online.  Help?