May 27, 2014

Crazy Quilt Saga - Repairs

This crazy quilt provides a good example of the different techniques that I use to help maintain aging silks.  It also had a special problem - a silk ruffle on the edge, some of which was in really bad shape.

I used three different techniques, depending on the type of damage in each patch:

1. I used the couching stitch to secure tears and disintegrating fabrics in the shattered silks.  A previous post has photos of the couching stitching in progress.

Two other posts shows the couching stitch:  on World War II Japanese silk banners, and on on a mid-19th century appliqué "mistresspiece"quilt.

2. Where there were painted fabrics or irreplaceable, unique fabrics, I covered those areas with sheer silk crepeline.  I've written up some how-to tips for applying this silk.


3. Where matching the broken fabrics was fairly straightforward, I patched with new silks.  A previous post has photos of applying a patch.

There are two patches in these photos, the plum on the left, and the red on the right. The red had an embroidered flower, which I reproduced.

The black and white patch on the left gave me the opportunity to use one of my favorite fabrics.  It's a gingham check taffeta.  I've used it once before - to make a bowtie for Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest.

A bit about finding fabrics:  
I had two choices for this red patch.  The one along the bottom of the photo was a closer match although a bit too bright with a pink sheen.  The one I chose was a bit too dark.  If I have that kind of choice to make, both with fabrics and with threads, I pretty much always go with the darker option.  Darker blends in better, while lighter runs the risk of "shining out".  Also in this case, the darker one was softer, and more likely to lie better on the quilt.

The quilt has been restored on the past, having several places with patches already applied.  The pink in these photos is one of those older patches, next to a new navy patch added by me.  It's nice to have a family piece that shows such a history of care.

In this spot, a cream brocade patch had been applied to a damaged red patch.  Not only did it not match the original color, but it also didn't cover the entire original shape.

So I removed the brocade patch.  I discovered that there also was an old red patch beneath the brocade patch.  

I left both reds there, and added one of my own, that filled in the entire shape.

Here's the entire area, before and after the patching.  There is the new red patch, a navy patch to its left, a black patch above, and a yellow triangle with couching stitching above that.

The ruffle adventure:

One of the three fabrics used in the ruffle was totally shot.  It might have been possible to encase the old ruffle between two layers of the silk crepeline, but the owner decided there was not enough fabric left to have a good visual effect.

The fabric was a dark forest green.  I always look to patch and repair with fabrics very similar to the original, but in this case, I couldn't find anything of a close enough green and similar enough weight.  All the green fabrics I found were lighter and/or bluer greens, and looked intensely modern next to the rest of the colors in the quilt.  When that kind of thing happens, I look for something that blends in or is similar to other fabrics elsewhere in the quilt.  I went with a light tan dupioni, the dupioni having a bit more body than some of the other lighter weight silks.

Removing the old ruffle took quite a bit of time.  The quilt had been finished with a knife edge, i.e. the top and back turned in towards each other, with the ruffled fabric inserted in between them.  Then the edges had been decorated with feather stitching, going all the way through everything.


I spent quite a bit of time teasing the old fabric out from between the embroidery stitches.  Luckily, it was super fragile (not usually considered a lucky thing of course), and gave way bit by bit around each embroidery stitch.

I had measured the old ruffle before removing it, which was good, because the removal process didn't leave much to measure.  I hemmed both long edges of the new ruffle, and gathered one edge.  I seamed the new fabric to the remaining old ruffle sections, and stitched the gathered edge to the back of the quilt.

The backing is a lovely checked silk, and is in great shape. 

Here's a how-to tip as you maneuver your way around a crazy quilt.  I drew a map with each patch marked as to which kind of repair I had planned.  That way, I could know what fabrics I needed to search for, and could keep track of what was done and what was still to do.  (Or maybe it's a map to hidden pirate treasure........)

And here's the finished quilt:

The story of of the quilt and its maker is in a previous post.

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