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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Repairing a damaged quilt

Fair warning to you die-hard quilters out there. This post is on how I personally chose to repair my son Justin's quilt and it might just about have you in a frenzy, make you queasy or perhaps cause you to keel over in a dead faint. No, it is not for the faint of heart, but then the damage alone might do that to you. It was extensive!
See how several triangles are completely gone?
 I asked Justin how this happened. He looked awfully guilty. He just stood there and I could almost hear the cogs working in his brain, trying to come up with an excuse or reason which wouldn't make mom mad. After a bit he says in his usual Justin-speak, "Cat bad, no go on bed no more."
Squares gone and yet the center star is intact
I had to try not to laugh! He was actually blaming the cat! "Really? The cat did this? Which one?" I asked curiously. Without hesitation he said, "Baby Cali, bad cat, no more on bed, bad cat off bed." He seemed so relieved that I "bought" this story that I could not scold him. I suspect he had done most, if not all, of the damage just by sitting on it as he played music, video games or watched his favorite Disney movies or Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. He does tend to pick at tiny threads and pick and pick and pick until...well, you see for yourself in the pictures.

I saw this damage and just about...well, I wasn't happy. Do you have any idea how long it took me to make this quilt? No, neither do I! I didn't log nor keep track of the time, but a good guess was several months of one to five hours per day piecing it all together, some by hand and some on the sewing machine, and then the assembly and the actual quilting. It could easily have been a year. Lexi's quilt took longer, but that one was was the first one I ever did and entirely done by hand.
This square looks like it was chewed up, even the filler. Maybe it was the cat!
 I could have tossed the whole thing, but this frugal quilter was not likely to do that, was she? There was another thing to that. Justin LOVED this quilt and didn't like that it was "broken". It was he who initially prompted me to start on a quilt just for him. He had been quite envious that I made one for Alexis and one for Brandon. He kept me going on the project when I wanted to leave it to do something else. So, I had to fix his broken quilt, but how? I didn't know. Making one is one thing. Repairing one is a whole other and rather bothersome thing.

A new quilt block
 There were problems to overcome for this project. Justin was going into "quilt withdrawal". I had had the quilt in my sewing room for quite some time totally forgotten. It wasn't so much just a quilt mom made for him, but more like a "blankie" for his inner peace. So, when he asked if he could have it back, I knew I had to get going on it and actually do something about it.

I went through my considerable fabric stash and couldn't believe I had no more black fabric. Since Tom might have killed me for just saying the words, "I'm buying more fabric." I decided to make due without it. I substituted a very dark blue- tiny star studded fabric which met my approval, and more importantly, Justin's. As this was a scrappy quilt, the other fabrics were easy to find in my stash. I had plenty of red for the inner stars and prints for the rest. No worries!

four of the new quilt blocks to repair the old quilt
 I made several quilt blocks (ten total) and oddly enough, it was fun. I had forgotten how much fun it was to cut little square pieces of many colors and prints, mix them and sew them up to make really nice, pretty designs.

After much deliberation, I figured the best course of action was to make entirely new whole quilt blocks and just sew them over the damaged blocks. For some of the most terribly destroyed ones, this was an obvious choice, but for the ones with very little damage, it did seem like overkill. Still it was easier than inserting tiny triangles.
In future will this method be called quilt block patching?
I experimented with this repair project. I tried a backing for the square and pre-quilting it before sewing it onto the quilt. I didn't like the effect and un-did it again. I tried sewing the new quilt blocks together in a row before sewing them in place. That didn't work either. Each would have to be sewn on individually.
One damaged square repaired, nine more to go
 I have two or three done so far. The rest I'll do after our vacation trip. Then Justin will be happy to have his quilt back on his bed. Job well least as well done as I could do it.  Repairing a quilt may not be easy but it is satisfying to know I could come up with a way to do it. It was loads better than tossing this into the rag bin and starting on a new one!


  1. The only thing I know about quilting is that hand made ones are expensive and hard to come by till it's fair time or when they have a huge thousand booth flea market in the mountains once a year. I do understand the basic concept of how one is made by hand and appreciate the work involved.

  2. Thanks, Dan. It takes quite a bit of time and determination to make a quilt from start to finish, especially all by hand! :-)


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