A few months ago, my daughter brought a quilt belonging to my grandson David when she came for a visit. David is 27, in the Army, and has a family of his own. David received the quilt from my mother-in-law, Onie, when he was a toddler. To say it has been well loved is an understatement. In fact, it was in such bad shape that if my daughter hadn’t said something about assuring David that I could fix anything, I would have never tackled the project.
Onie created the quilt with Mickey Mouse in the center because my father-in-law and David played this game where they “argued” about who was the Mickey Mouse, with David saying it was my father-in-law and vice versa. David was less than two years old at the time.
The Mickey quilt is a treasured piece of David’s childhood, so here I am, The Grandma Who Can Fix Anything.
I dreaded doing the project because the quilt was in such bad shape, so it just sat in my studio for quite a while. But when we got word that David was coming home from his tour overseas and planned to visit us, I got serious about fixing the quilt.
There were two different black fabrics. The one with the red and white polka dots was mostly used in the outer two rows and was in terrible shape. It was brittle, frayed, torn and just plain gone in a couple of places. The black and white print near the center of the quilt was mostly in decent shape. The binding was worn completely through. There were places where the batting was gone. The back was in really, really bad shape. I thought, “Oh, Grandma Who Can Fix Anything, you have your work cut out for you.”
I removed the binding and the two outside rows. There were a couple of squares closer to the center of the quilt that I also removed. I cut away the backing fabric, the batting and the ties.
I found red solid fabric and a black print that was the right general color for the black squares in my Fabric Inventory. I replaced the three squares in the inner two rows then I made and attached two new outer rows. I added new batting and backing, repaired the appliqued Mickey and machine quilted diagonal lines. Then with the addition of new binding, the quilt was good to go.
This is not what I would do if I were asked to restore a quilt for a museum but that was not the purpose of this repair. My goal was to make the quilt into something David could enjoy again.
When I told my friend Abigail Dolinger that people who do quilt restoration would shake their head in amazement at what I’d done, she said, “It takes a lot of time to repair a quilt! Considering who the quilt is for or why you are repairing it is paramount. You were not repairing for a museum; you were repairing for a grandson who has lots of memories bound up in that collection of fabrics. And now, the new pieces you added and the experience of receiving the repaired quilt from you has added to the story of his quilt. Never fear, you did the right thing!” (Read a recent blog by Abigail, see one of her patterns and a kit for one of her table runners here.)
I’ll never forget the look of sheer delight on David’s face when I gave him the new-old Mickey quilt. It was worth every bit of the effort.
Lori (AKA The Grandma Who Can Fix Anything)