June 22, 2021

Broken Star....Mended

The color play on this quilt is spectacular!  

This turned patching some of the diamonds into one of those good news / bad news situations.  Good news: the quilt is gorgeous.  Bad news: it really, really needs the perfect patching fabrics so as to not detract from the wonderful color play.

There were just a few diamonds damaged.  So it could have been a relatively quick job, but it wasn't....

I had no problem with the pale yellow, the two pale pinks, or an aged white for the background.  Here's why.

A few years ago, a friend wrote that she'd been hired to help clear out a sewing studio for an elder who was down-sizing.  She thought I might be interested in the vintage fabrics, a huge set of 1930s-40s solids in particular.  Well, of course I was interested!  I bought two fairly large and absolutely bulging boxes!




But in amongst all of that, there was not a single thing even close to the dark-pink-or-is-it-pale-magenta.  Not a thing.  Either too much towards the red, too much towards the blue, too bright, too pale....  And the fabric on the left in the photo below?  It looks pretty good, but I didn't have enough.  That's when I asked the owner if he'd wait a while - with the assurance that I would not charge him extra.  He had set a ceiling on the price of the repair, but I knew I just wouldn't be satisfied until I found the closest match that I could.

My first attempt:  I remembered the little challenge quilt I made last spring ("The World Turns Upside Down") based on a swatch packet from Free Spirit.  And lo and behold, one of those matched pretty darn well!  So then, I was on a hunt to figure out the color name or number and find someone who was selling it.  

I found several shops selling Free Spirit fabrics, sent the request and a photo, with a photographer's color card to help with identification, so that folks could better see what I needed.  A shout-out to those who did respond and try to help.  One was Tamara McNickle at the Missouri Star Quilt Co. (who carry more Free Spirit solids online than anyone else), and the other is my friend Jane Sassaman who designs for Free Spirit and had posted a quilt-in-progress that looked like but wasn't my target color  (And if you're not familiar with Jane's fabrics and quilts, I recommend you check her out!)

To make a long story short....nope, I didn't find the fabric that way.  

While waiting for this correspondence, I also tackled the issue from a different direction - by exploring different fabric fading methods.  

I'd heard about fading in the dishwasher using Cascade.  I didn't want to try that because we use environmentally friendly cleaners, and I decided that taking care of our water supply was more important.

I tried sun-fading (trickier in Feb-Mar than in the summer....).  I found a possible candidate for fading on Etsy.  I taped a square to the window, and waited.  And waited.  I actually moved it from living room to kitchen every day, as the sun moved.  That's a tiny advantage, I guess, to being here at home nearly all the time. 

I read about soaking fabrics in lemon juice before putting them in the sun.  So I tried a square that way, too.

The fabric did fade.  It took at least a month to even be sure that I was seeing a color change.  But in the second month, it really did change.  Of course, there was more and more sun as the seasons moved along.  But....it was not at all successful.  As well as getting lighter, the color faded towards the blue, making it unusable (in photo below - original color on top).  And by the way, the lemon juice did not hurry the process along much at all.  

And then, one wonderful day, I found the perfect fabric!  Or perhaps I should say - the perfect fabric found me!  

I saw the fabric in a photo posted on Facebook by Elizabeth Townsend-Gard.  Elizabeth is a quilter and professor who founded Just Wanna Quilt, a podcast and Facebook group and research project and book series.  It's a great place to learn about and be part of all sorts of everything that is going on in the quilt world - from copyright questions to small quilt businesses to fabric and tool designers and manufacturers to guilds to service projects....  On and on.  And it's all quite fun of course!  

Well, that little challenge quilt that contained the perfect color just happens to have been a challenge project created by Just Wanna Quilt.  Coincidence?  Maybe not.... 

Anyhow, Elizabeth posted a quilt she was making....and there was "my" color!  I wrote to her and she had plenty and sent me a nice big chunk, bless her.  It arrived and oh my goodness, what a close match!  

So here's the quilt, in all its glory, which is quite a bit of glory!


  1. Wow, what a gorgeous quilt! Your artistic persistence paid off.

  2. This quilt was made by my great-grandmother made for my mother, who lived in a rural Southern Illinois farming community. That great-grandmother died in 1957, so I am guessing this quilt is around 70 years old. It was well-loved - and worn. If you've read this blog post, you know that through Ann Wasserman's patience and tenacity and her wonderful quilting community, the quilt is now restored, and it is beautiful. I am giving it to my mother's sister, who will love it and cherish it. Thank you, Ann!  

    1. What a great note, Bill. Thanks so much! It's great to know the quilt's story. Please do write it down! The story makes it much more special as a family heirloom, and also can be really great if a local historical society is interested in local quilts. You can keep the information, preferably with a photo of the quilt attached, with your other important papers. Or you can slip the papers into an archival sleeve and store with the quilt.

  3. Just perfection, Ann!! Yes, I've been there and done that, attempting to bleach a new fabric to match an old one and finding that that it ended up not just lighter as hoped, but also greener rather than blue and no longer usable. You have the patience and the perseverance of a saint, and it really paid off with this one.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca. I'm so glad my friend posted that photo *and* had more of the fabric to share!