I have been busy getting my quilts ready for the Bayberry show as well as making samples for Quilt-ish of Cape Cod, but I recently had the honor of restoring this precious baby quilt for a client. The quilt was made as a baby gift for a woman by her grandmother, and it was well loved. The woman is now expecting a baby of her own (about the same time that my grandbaby is due) and her mother asked me if I could restore this quilt that had just about been loved to death. Several applique pieces were missing or damaged, the single-fold binding was worn through, and several of the ties were missing.
The referral came to me through Cape Cod Quilts and Cottages. When the client showed the quilt to Pat and wondered what she could use for binding, Pat recognized one of the fabrics as one she had in her personal stash. She generously gave the woman all she had of that fabric as well as some similar fabrics in case it was not enough. The challenge was that the quilt was yellowed and faded, so Pat’s pristine fabric was brighter than the same fabric in the quilt. Pat suggested I bleach the fabric, but that didn’t help with the yellowing. After some experimenting, I found I could come fairly close to the color by first bleaching and then tea staining.
The appliqued birds were missing several parts. Only one still had a wing, and that was torn. Two were missing a foot and one was missing an eye. The yellow fabric in this quilt was a very fine batiste which was nearly threadbare. The few ties that were left were cut right up to the knot and came untied very easily, so I decided I needed to untie the whole quilt. The border was the yellow batiste and it was worn very thin, so I removed and replaced this border with new fabric and used the removed border to make the missing applique pieces.
There were several small holes in the quilt, some of which were caused by pulling at the ties. I was concerned that the quilt would not hold up to washing if I simply retied it. I returned to Cape Cod Quilts and Cottages and found a lightweight woven fusible interfacing that I fused to the back of the top. This kept the softness of the quilt but gave it some strength so it could be retied. I fray checked the holes and retied the top. The quilt would have been more durable if I had machine quilted it rather than tying it, but the objective of restoration is to make the quilt look as much like the original as possible, so it needed to be retied. The border was applied with a double fold, and I believe this quilt is now ready for the next generation.