Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Frayed Faded & Worn

On Saturday, while the sink was being installed in the laundry room, I worked on stitching together the pieced blocks from the deconstructed alphabet quilt. I joined them using blue sashing. The strips were cut 1" wide and stitched with 1/4" seams to the blocks on either side. When pressed in place, the edges of each block meet in the middle below the sashing.

Because the blocks were originally stitched over polyester batting with a quilt-as-you-go method, the quilt is already batted so it didn't make sense to add another heavy layer, just something light to hold its new shape. I used prewashed flannel. If I had been buying new fabric, I wouldn't have prewashed it. Instead, I'd have shrunk it in hot water after the top was re-quilted to give the quilt a softened and old fashioned look. But... I had the prewashed flannel in stash... and I wanted to use what I had.

Nothing about these blocks is square or flat. My quilting skills at the time were minimal and I finger pressed the strips in place. When I added the sashing, I had to work hard to get the blocks to match up. For that reason - and because polyester batting is thick and nearly impossible to manipulate with any level of control - I opted to channel quilt at a sixty degree angle moving in the opposite direction of the lines within the pieced blocks.

The binding was stitched in place by machine and then turned and slip stitched by hand to the back of the quilt and then top stitched 1/8" inside the binding from the front and then again...

... from the back. The original quilt had a red binding that was single fold and cut on the straight of grain. I briefly contemplated re-using it but decided that a bias cut, double folded binding would be better suited to the quilt's new role as it evolves from wall quilt to play quilt.

It's not square and it's not perfect but it's done and ready for play. Some day, many years in the future, I hope to see it frayed, faded, and worn showing all the fun adventures it's been on with my grandson and his family - to the beach, the park, the back yard, in the tent, as a tent, and more.

Years ago, I gave a quilt to someone special and they wrote a thank you note saying how much they loved it and that they would be using it every day for their afternoon nap. I was happy to know that the quilt and my work in making it were appreciated, that it had found a good home, and that it would be used. When that person passed away, the quilt was returned to me even though I hadn't asked for it back. I wish I'd never seen it again. The original quilt was crisp with a label fused to the back. If it had been used every day and washed even once in the many years in-between, it would have been softened, faded, and the label long gone. It came back in pristine condition with the label still attached making a lie of many things. Within a few weeks, I gave it away again. I didn't want that constant reminder. I asked the new owner to please use it.

If you've been given a handmade gift, I think it's worth asking the maker what their intentions were because most of us who give gifts of this nature truly do hope that they will be used and loved "to death" and if you don't love them that much, perhaps they are better gifted elsewhere. I've declined gifts that came with strings I wouldn't play.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - recycled and finished quilt, new purpose


  1. Your redone quilt turned out beautiful. I too hope it gets used to death. One of the quilts now getting used in my house was made by an unknown family member probably back in the 1930s; it's a bowtie pattern. It was nailed over a window in the smokehouse for YEARS and YEARS! My mom rescued it when her family was cleaning out the smokehouse, and washed it. Yes, it has nail holes, but it washed up fine and is cuddly and my kids use it now. If I had been the one to make it, I know I would be happy someone was using it (and no longer nailed to a shed wall).

    1. Years ago I attended a quilt exhibit where one of the artist had put her piece up with huge spikes. It was back there at the beginning when quilting was just starting to become popular and there was a huge hue and cry over her mistreatment of this "heirloom" piece. Her response was that the quilt was replaceable; it was the quilter who was unique. I do get where she was coming from, especially the older I get, but it did seem like not a nice way to treat your quilt. At least with the one in your family it was being used - even if nailed to the wall.

  2. The quilt turned out beautiful even if it's not up to your standards today.

    I am really not a quilter with the exception of baby quilts for really close friends. Wait let me rephrase that to say the adult children of friends. (When did I get so old?) I'm happy to say that they do get used. I can understand your disappointment in getting back a quilt that was in pristine condition.

    1. Thanks. I'm pleased with it too.

      LOL - I was getting old while you were getting old. I was still adjusting to my friends being grandmothers and now I'm one.

      I'm glad your quilts are being used. YEAH.


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