Monday, May 12, 2014

Rhubarb rescue

Many months ago, I acquired this quilt top with a request to "rescue" it and make it useful.

The pink is an unusual color that I'm not sure I've ever seen.  It's not bubble gum, not light, not exactly dark. I've been calling it rhubarb. The light areas were simply muslin, very fragile in some spots. It was also huge--it started out about 85 by 110. I was told that it was made by a friend's mother at least 30 years ago and was hidden in a closet after she died. (I think it was a good bit older than 30 years, based on the condition of the muslin.) The family wanted to be able to use it and remember mom. On further inspection, though, I suspect there was a reason why it was in the closet. This quilt was not made by one person, it was made by many, and many of them did not know what they were doing. Most of the pieces were hand-pieced, but some were sewn on a machine. Some of the hand-pieced ones were pieced with hand quilting thread, the heavier waxy thread that I have never known how to use. I use it for basting because it's easy to pull out. Do I have to say that there was no such thing as a standard seam allowance anywhere in this quilt?

There were also other problems:

 And this:
Is that blood? I think so!
So, there were many troubles to be dealt with here. I thought of it as a challenge.  Since I had no more of the original fabric, and the quilt was way too big anyway, I ended up cutting a good part of it away, saving the best part for a new center, then using some of the discarded pieces to repair what would be the main section of the refurbished quilt. It seems like cutting away a lot, but I was following the quilt pattern in order to preserve as much as possible. There was also some rearranging to keep the blocks correctly oriented. I also tightened up as many of the seams as I could, and re-cut the borders to fit the new size. Then, just to stabilize the old fabric and make sure the quilt held together, I basted it all to an extra-wide piece of new white muslin. It was finally flat and stable, with no more bloodstains! Then my good friend the longarmer took over the challenge, and quilted a butterfly panto on it. She did a great job!

I had my doubts during the whole process, but it turned out great! Here it is on a bed:

Yay! It looks good!

This finished at about 72 by 72. I think I managed to save the best parts, which to my mind were the pattern and the unusual pink color. I wish I could have saved more of it, maybe to put together a smaller quilt or a wall hanging, but what I discarded was really fit for nothing more than the trash. I'd like to think that this still honors the original quilt makers, even if it's not exactly what they originally constructed.

I'm calling this a successful rescue! Hope everyone has a great week.  Mine will be filled with meetings and final paperwork, then commencement this weekend. Then we can all recover from the emotional upheaval of the semester.

If I remember, I will link this to Connie's Linky Tuesday tomorrow.  With the mushy state of my brain right now, though. . .here's hoping you all have a clear-headed day!

To see what others are doing today, check out Patchwork Times. 


Patrica said...

That's an awesome rescue of an old quilt. I hope the family appreciates what you've done for them in saving this treasure. I'll look for you tomorrow at Connie's Linky Tuesday.
Patrica from

Ramona said...

Nicely done! I am sure the family was thrilled... I would be!

Vicki in MN said...

You did a wonderful job of rescuing, my first look at it I wouldn't have known till i read your post and saw those damaged areas up close.

Mary Huey said...

Great rescue job!! Now the quilt will have a wonderful life!!