End of this year I had the pleasure of working on our client’s Grandmother’s quilt.
Pleasure because as I worked on it the imagined original beauty came alive;
pleasure because our client is interested and excited!
As you can see above, her grandmother
created beautiful embroidery!
Out goal was to replace the threadbare patches, leaving intact as much
embroidery as possible. This meant I could not loosen seams and replace
whole patches because the embroidery was intact. I needed to patch over
the threadbare areas, while leaving intact embroidery alone.
Then we were to edge the entire quilt as best we could…
and I say this because this was a working crazy quilt, and it appeared that over time patches were added, so the entire quilt was never squared true in any direction.
Originally there were rich velvets, but we could not use velvets because it was too difficult to turn edges under in this situation. In a new crazy quilt, it is likely that a quilter would lay the velvets flat and turn silk and cottons under over it to achieve the shapes.
We used bits of silks in the place of some of the rich fabrics.
There was a budget; Susan left it up to me to decide which patches to replace.
I began by creating patterns of the patches.
On a project like this you can easily do three times the work I did,
especially if you repair original embroidery, but the shredded threadbare patches were easy to choose first. I chose more patches than I could do, and then set to replacing what I could in the time allotted. (and yes, I did a bit more than I was paid to replace.)
Part of the initial project was finding compatible cottons.
I took my color cues by looking at the bits of disintegrated fabrics.
Many were purple!
Of the ones I bought I used half, as some just didn’t feel right once I saw
them balanced on the quilt. The bits of bright green silk, bright gold and yellow silk,
and bright purples gave the quilt some of its original punch.
I changed the layout slightly from this first pass — I found a bit of bright yellow silk
in my own stash and used it, and moved the green silks a bit.
Once I had the colors laid out, I went to work.
I didn’t want to cover the embroidery that originally graced the bright purple patch in this area, so chose to create a split patch. Susan’s Grandmother used unusual bits of yarn — note the purple eyelash? She must have been a knitter.
This kind of repair is so different than quilt making — the tiny thin angles that would usually be created by overlapping patches have to be made when possible by folding under. Sometiems it is impossible, and I turned the tight corner under.
This was very thick green silk, bits from the Washington State DAR Flag.
I did the central embroidery on the plain silks on a hoop before I placed them on the quilt.
Patches were stitches. then embroidered.
I chose a purple border because after inspecting the original bits of lost fabric, her Grandmother was fond of purple… Many patches were shades of purple.
Unfortunately, and even giving her time, I was not able to come in and
repair embroidery that was damaged. In some ways this is okay with me —
the family can easily tell which is Grandma’s embroidery,
and which is mine, which is on the newer fabrics only.