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Quilt Restoration Project – Sunbonnet Sue and Green Boats Part 2

This is the follow-up post to the first part of this segment:Quilt Restoration Project – Sunbonnet Sue and Green Boats Part 1.

As we talked about in the first segment, the initial repair work for both of these beautiful quilts was to remove the damaged and flimsy fold-over binding and put new binding on with mitered corners. Also, while I did try some spot-cleaning in some areas, the worst stains will just have to reside on the quilt as badges of the love they have received.  These are both hand-quilted and should never be put in a washing machine.

The quilts already showed an amazing transformation!

Now that the fragile batting and edges of these quilts are protected with a new binding, it is time to repair the rips, tears and holes that are a result of years of love.

It is important to note that because of the age and condition of these quilts, decisions needed to be made on how best to repair each element so no further damage occurred in areas were there were rips, tears and holes.

One such decision centered on a long rip on the sashing of the sailboat quilt.

In this case, I had purchased fabric that was probably the same color when this quilt was new; however, after years of use, the color had faded a great deal.  So, after checking the integrity of the existing fabric in that area (which was actually quite solid) and previewing the quilt with this fabric, I came to the conclusion that the quilt would retain much more of its original beauty if I sewed this rip instead.  To place the fabric over one section of the sashing would make it stick out because of both its color and texture.  There is no way to match the hand-quilting and easing that has occurred to this quilt over time.  All in all, I was pleased with the result.

At this point, the only additional issues with the Sailboat quilt was some very small rips which were easily hand sewed shut.  I opted for this method whenever possible instead of adding patches.  Overall this kept the focus at the beautiful Boats and Dollies and not on a plethora of patches.  I was fortunate that the fabric overall (except the binding) was in pretty good condition.

The Sailboat quilt was not the only one with large sections of damage.  The Bluebonnet Sue quilt had a large, gaping hole that went through all 3 layers.  Again, I had some choices and decided that instead of trying to draw attention away from the area (mostly because there was no way to do this), I would add something to the quilt.

My solution?

First, I filled the center with batting to match the amount used in the rest of the quilt.  I then used the same fabric from the binding to create a heart to cover the hole front and back.

This makes a charming addition to the quilt that does not take away from the original work done by the family’s great-grandmother.

At this point, my attention turned to the Sunbonnet Sue appliques.  After speaking with the owner of this quilt, it was decided to add only the fabric needed to secure the quilt and keep further damage from happening.  This was a good decision when considering the love put into it by the original quilter as well.  To replace entire designs would have taken away from the beautiful, vintage quality.

Each of the dollies above had ripped loose from the machine applique that attached them.  To fix this, I created a template for the dress bottom and the hat band (the last one had ripped there as well).  After using an iron-on adhesive to attach these bands, I hand sewed using black thread to give the same look as the machine-stitching of the original.

NOTE: Because this quilt was already sandwiched, all sewing had to be by hand with the exception of attaching the binding to the front.

As you can see, the final pictures of both these quilts present a look that does not detract from the original version.  When we started this project, there were two recommendations:

1. Do nothing and lay them on a cute chair in the corner as decoration

2. Replace the binding and repair all damaged areas in the best way possible while attempting to keep the same look that their great-grandmother intended.

Ultimately, I am so glad they went with option (2) as the great-grand daughter can use them lovingly and show them off to her friends.

I was so excited to have the honor of working on these beautiful, old quilts and will be sad to see them go.

Do you have a family heirloom that needs repair?  Maybe it’s time to take it to your local quilt professional to see what can be done to preserve your own family heritage.

So, what do you think?

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