Starting the restoration

This crazy quilt is a huge project.  One that I’ve put off for a couple of years because I was afraid of it.  Afraid I’d mess it up. 


It was given to me by my friend LD.  She got it from her Aunt, who was commissioned to restore it, but the lady that commissioned her was killed in a plane crash and no one ever came to get the quilt.  And, now it’s mine.  All mine.

Anyway, it is very vintage and several of the silks, mostly the reds and royal blues, are shattered.  That seems to apply to both the velvets and the smooth satiny silks.  Not all of them are gone.  Some are quite strong still.  But several are gone.  We want to display it, but it’s not in good enough shape yet.

It was originally pieced on a foundation and then mounted to a brown polished cotton back.  But, LD’s Aunt did repairs through the backing, which gave her stitches stability, and I’m doing the same.  There is one piece of missing backing; a square about 13” and I’ll need to replace that to give me that solid foundation to re-attach the quilt front to. 

Embroidery isn’t really my thing.  I haven’t done any in years.  The only thing I was ever any good at was cross stitch.  But, I’ve really thrown myself into this project. 

I started by buying a book and studying up on how to make a crazy quilt.  And, then I made some decisions…decisions I almost unmade yesterday, but that’s a post for another day.


Like the author suggested, I’ve tried a variety of threads, and they all have different properties that I like and others that I don’t.  Some are heavier, some lighter, some knot as I sew, some are smooth.  I’ve decided on which ones I like and for what purpose.

Yesterday morning, when the sun was shining across it, I noticed that every time I moved it, a small cloud of dust rose from the quilt.  I really needed to take care of that, or I was going to be cleaning silk dust off everything, so I fell back on some instructions from Nancy Kirk about how to clean a quilt that can’t be washed.  I mounted a piece of netting inside my biggest quilting hoop, laid it on the quilt and vacuumed through it to suck the dust out, (bounce don’t drag) without damaging any fabrics, or risking sucking a patch up.  I did both the front and the back and it made a huge difference.  It’s always going to make dust, just from things breaking down, but at least that dust isn’t flying all over the place like it was. 


To repair it, I basically study a patch and decide what I want to do; whether to just embroider around it, or whether to embroider inside it.  And, then I sit and sew.

And, then I rip and then I sew some more.  And, then I add some because what I did doesn’t look like it’s enough.  Then, I rip it all out and do something different.  That’s my process.  I’d say I’m ashamed of it, but so far, it’s working.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to replace one patch and time myself to see how long that one piece would take. 

I started with this.  It’s the corner and I want to replace the shattered piece of brown satin that was there.  The black velvet to the left is sturdy as is the brown velvet above and the black silk on the right is a piece I put in on Friday, so I know it is good.


This patch took a piece of fabric that was 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches.  I made my first color decision in the quilt and used a green dupioni silk instead of the brown.

Three and a half hours later, I had this.


That sounds like a lot of time, but I had to do the embroidery around all the sides of other patches that adjoin the new green patch.  And, there was a good bit of putting into that brown patch and then taking out until I got what I wanted. 

So, if it took 3 1/2 hours to do a patch that’s 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, how long is it going to take to finish this generous lap sized quilt? 

Not a fair comparison.  Large areas of the quilt are in considerably better shape than this corner was.  This probably wasn’t the best place to start, but I’m glad I did because now, the hardest part is behind me and I can start to work on places where the embroidery still exists. 

But, I did find another small piece of that beige velour.  That will have to be removed.  Wisdom of the original maker be damned.  It just can’t be allowed.

Everybody slap a member of the tea party today, please.  They’re planning to steal from all our 401k’s again.  It’s their every 3 year ritual.  I thought I’d outsmarted them by moving from stocks to bonds, but now, they’re going to bring down the borrowing authority of the federal government, which will ruin those too.  I wonder why nobody is pointing out that this legislation that they say nobody wants has garnered so much interest that the national database is overwhelmed.  And, thousands of people have purchased insurance. 

I guess the media thinks they don’t need to point out the obvious.

Be well.  Have a great Monday.  I’m going to be praying for our country.  And, believe me, if I’m praying, then we must be in real trouble.



Tammy said...

Your quilt will be gorgeous when you are finished with it. Bravo.. extremely well done. I'm praying for your country as well.

Rebecca Grace said...

Lane... don't even get me started on the Tea Party, although that IS an apt name for them. Just like the Mad Hatter's tea party in Alice in Wonderland, don't you think?

Your crazy quilt project looks like FUN!!!!! Do you need any fabric for replacing patches? I have a serious hoard of lightweight silks, silk velvets, etc. from interior design projects. I saved too much and will never use it all. If you tell me the colors and approximate size pieces you need, I'd love to send you a little goody bag of fabric scraps to help you on your way with this gorgeous restoration.

lw said...

I think that the original owner of the crazy quilt would be so pleased that you love it and are restoring it.

You don't mention this, but I'm assuming you're using natural fibers (cotton velvets, silk velvets, etc.) in your repair work. It's the synthetic fibers that don't hold up over time.

Not sure who's the cause (though I suspect NAFTA and out of control borrowing by both major parties over the years) but if you watch shows like House Hunters International, you can sure see how the dollar has taken a real beating.

By the way, due to glitches in the software, even if you think you signed up successfully for Obamacare, you may not actually be in the system. The software wasn't storing some of the responses or something. So if someone you know is counting on it, have them verify if they're actually in the system.

Kath said...

great tip about the net, Lane. You did a great job on that corner, this is going to be a labour of love. I love it that you will be honouring 3 special ladies with your work.

Terri in BC said...

Hi, Lane: If you are looking for great inspiration, check out this blog! http://cqjp2013.blogspot.ca/ I'm signing up for the 2014 challenge, and this site http://www.shawkl.com/ has more information about crazy quilting in general. Good luck!

ga447 said...

Such a great undertaking and with your talent the crazy quilt will come out fabulous. My son works for the gov't and he is working and not getting paid, has a family. I am helping out but this situation isn't right. Thanks for your prayers.

qltmom9 said...

Ouch. I agree with most of the tea party platform. We have totally different political perspectives. One of my 6 brothers is very liberal and I still love him and vice versa. He thinks he can sway his stubborn little sister. LOL!

Anyhow, good job on the vacuum idea. I've been doing paperpiecing which I was SURE I'd NEVER return to...tedious. But, I am enjoying it!

Lucy (in IN)

Elizabeth said...

Lane, I'm really behind, but loving the restoration so far! Embroidery is one of my favorites. And someday, I may make a crazy quilt.

xo -E