Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Joan's Vintage Butterfly Quilt - Finished!

I am so glad to be able to report that I've finally finished this quilt!  It's been an interesting project from start to finish and I am excited to be able to hand it off to its owner now as a very usable quilt in good condition.  When I first saw this quilt it really was in a sorry state - a still damp ball of wadded up cloth with huge lumps and shreds of batting inside.  At least it smelled good!

After examining it, I called the owner and told her that I could repair the pieces that were torn, but in order to replace the batting I was going to have to take all the ties out of the back and basically re-do it.  She said, "certainly, do what you need to" so I took it home to begin the journey of bringing this lovely quilt back to life.  A fellow butterfly fan was in the shop while I was looking at it and we got really excited because neither one of us has seen this block before.  We both liked the curve of the wing, because it gave a graceful look to a potentially very geometric block.

Over the next couple of months I would take the quilt out while watching television and take out some of the ties.  They were hard to remove, tied through the back of the quilt right into the seam allowances of the butterflies - no yarn showing at all on the top surface!  How on earth the maker of the quilt accomplished this, I can't imagine!  Then I started unpicking the edges - the backing (a blue percale sheet) was just wrapped over to the front and stitched down.  A nicely done, very serviceable finish.  As I got the back loose I started pulling out handfuls of shredded batting.  Several wastebaskets full by the time I was done!  None of it in any kind of usable condition, wouldn't even have made good pillow stuffing.  It took a while to get all the little shreds out of the seams, but I just worked on it a little at a time.  When I got it all cleaned up I was able to check out the repairs needed.  Quite a few of the black pieces needed replacing, and there were holes in some of the white background pieces.  Not too many popped seams, though.

I drafted a block pattern to make it a little easier to cut out the pieces I needed to replace.  That was kind of fun, and I pieced a block of my own, just to see how hard it was to put together.  A little tricky, but not too bad, really.  Not that I'm about to make 90 of them!  That's how many this quilt has in it - it's a 9 inch block, so the finished quilt is about 81 x 90 inches.  A little small for my queen size bed, but quite pretty.  I used a solid blue sheet for the backing.  After finishing the repairs I quilted it by machine - I quilted loop the loops in the background, then stitched each block in the ditch, matching my thread color to the solid color in the butterfly wings.  I had wanted to quilt some swirly lines in the butterfly wings, but since the quilt wasn't really flat, I decided that the stitch in the ditch was the best way to deal with those puffy wings.  It worked out fabulously!  I thought a black binding would really add to it, but in the end and added a blue binding as the customer requested.
  I take a pretty liberal stance in my decision on how to approach repairing/refurbishing/renovating an old quilt.  I take into account the age of the quilt with the sentimental and/or historical value as well as monetary value and let my potential customers know my advice, and how the options will affect the value, lifespan and kind of care the quilt will require.  If this quilt would have been quilted originally (well, then we wouldn't have had the batting problem either, most likely!) I would have advised just to make the basic repairs and leave the old backing on it.  Because we ended up taking it down to the top I could have hand quilted or machine quilted it.  The owner confirmed that it was from the early 60's, not a family heirloom, but a quilt she had purchased and she wanted a quilt that she would be able to use and not spend a lot of money on the quilting.  So we decided that machine quilting was the best way of finishing the quilt.  In other circumstances I have advised no repairs, or limited repairs.

So glad this is finished, and I can't wait for my customer to see it!  I hope she loves the quilt and that she will enjoy many years of the use of this lovely quilt!  If you'd like to make this lovely block, I've uploaded the pattern to my pattern shop - let me know if you make it and how it comes out!


Pam Geisel - For Quilts Sake said...

I love it! You did such a great job with it.

Anonymous said...

I love that quilt, and I love the fabrics in it. The nice thing is it is now better than it was before, not just restored. Any chance the pattern will come to light somewhere?

Anonymous said...

What a GORGEOUS quilt! Definitely worth putting time in to to restore it.

I recently was given a quilt to restore. However…the top was double knit! Ugh! The top was in perfect condition. The back and batting were disintegrating.

Long story short, I replaced the back and batting and the customer (a male) was ecstatic! His granny had made that quilt for him. :-)

I can tell that you are more of an expert on restoring quilts than I am, though.

robin :-)

Nancy said...

I've never seen this butterfly pattern before. I like it.