March 21, 2015

A Quilt Stitched by Many Hands



This quilt now belongs to an 11 year old girl.  The quilt was made in 1987 by her mom's sister, her aunt, in a high school Home Ec class as a gift for her mom's high school graduation.  Her mom took it to college with her.  She has now given the quilt to her daughter, who shares the name of the aunt who made the quilt.

In the early 90s or so, it needed some repairs.  It was sent down to Georgia to a family friend who belonged to a quilting circle.  The Georgia ladies also added a lot of hand-quilting to the original machine work.

The next time it needed help, it went to a college friend of the girl's mother.  She has a business making curtain and other home dec items, called While Teddy Sleeps.

The next person to stitch on the quilt was a caregiver who had emigrated from Thailand.  She and her husband now own a popular restaurant called Montera's Thai.  (I'm going to have to eat there soon!)

Finally, a more recent caregiver picked out fabrics, adding her own inspirations to the overall design, but didn't want to do the sewing.  So she did some research and found me.

She chose fabrics to add a night and day theme to the center squares in each block.  Sometimes, the underlying fabric was really OK, but I went ahead and put her night and day fabrics in all the blocks to keep her theme intact.

She also gave me scraps of fabric left over from making the girl's baby quilt.  Besides adding a memento, these fabrics also added more blue which is the girl's favorite color.  I used them to patch some of the triangles.

By now, there is quite a bit of patching!  The quilt combines the artistry of the family and friends who have touched the lives of this girl and her mother.  It is soft with age, and so very well loved.

Much of the orginal work had been done on the machine with a zig-zag stitch, so that is what I did, too.  There was a lot of wear on the quilt, sometimes also needing batting to be patched in.  It went from this look....:

....to this:
 

Here's the mending process on one block:

    

    

Just recently, I learned about a Japanese tradition called "boro".  Boro is the repeated mending of clothing and bedding, an art born of necessity by Japanese peasants over many generations.  The word actually means rags or scraps of cloth.  Clothing and bedding were mended, and the mends mended, for decades.  The result is a patchwork of various shades of worn fabrics, often with criss-cross stitching to add support and strength.  Today, boro have become collectable.  

For good descriptions of the boro tradition, see these articles:

Here is a photo from another article which has several nice pictures:


The quilt I repaired has an entirely different look of course, but I think the result is the same - an object that carries many stories, the work of many hands, and a depth of family history.


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