May 16, 2016

Formal Wear Quilt: BowTies and Tuxedos

This quilt combines many of my criteria for a wonderful quilt - it has a creative design, a great story, and it's signed and dated!

The story is that the quilt disappeared about 12 years ago, quite distressing of course.  Then this fall, Richard's partner and sister found the quilt in a storage shed on the family farm.  They snuck the quilt out of the house, found me, I cleaned and repaired it, and then they happily returned the quilt to Richard.  I just love this!

Given the long-term storage in very poor conditions, the quilt was in great shape.  Miraculously, there were no awful stains or mildewing, even though the box it was found in had gotten wet on the bottom.  There was very little damage aside from the disintegrating border fabric, just a few small tears here and there.

My first step was giving it a good bath.  Let’s just say it *really* needed a bath.  I gave it two rounds of soaping since the first one produced water the color of tea.  After the second wash, the rinse water finally ran clear.  Fabrics that used to be white or cream have still got a bit of a tan cast to them, but the discoloration is even and not distracting.

soak in plain water

first soap

second soap


I covered the borders with a new black.  The original quilting was still intact and not restitched.  I stitched closed about 10 little slits and patched over one little square in a 9-patch.

The design:  The combination of the bow tie and 9-patch blocks makes a fun rhythm.  The bowties are 5" blocks; the 9-patches are 4".  The fabrics are a great collection of 1970-ish black, white, and grey prints.


The light print here is my favorite - circles and squares and color gradation all accomplished by the clever use of tiny dots.

Richard's mother sewed tucks in the fabric of the alternate blocks.  After a bit, I realized she had made an homage to tuxedo shirts.  Love it!

Rescuing a quilt with so much love and joy in it is just the best.

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