June 10, 2008

Swiss Cheese

This is another of Rob's Great Grandmother Alloway's quilts, The Mill Wheel or Millstone, I'm not sure which is the correct pattern name. One of his aunts brought it to a family gathering, in a big black garbage bag, shoved it in my arms and said maybe I'd want it, or burn it, whatever. Was I thrilled?? Duh!

The main problem was apparent upon laying out the quilt. It had been tied far too far apart, and whoever did it had used two super heavy old flannel sheets for the batting. In the course of many years use as a utility quilt all that shifting had done it's damage; there were so many tears where there had once been ties. Secondary problem was, as you can see in the first photo a lot of the fabric had simply disintegrated.

The first thing I did was clip the ties and get rid of the weight. Then I spent several months unpicking all that fine hand sewing. If anyone thinks hand stitching isn't as strong as machine stitching, they've never unpicked hand sewn seams. Then I sorted and pressed what pieces were salvageable. Even those were very thin, so in desperation to save something I ironed each of those pieces to a light fusible interfacing. At the original seams there was nothing left except a few threads so I squared up the blocks at the old seam lines and repieced everything I could salvage.

As you can see, the re-squaring threw off the wheels a bit, but no harm done. I just love this little quilt, and I hope my sharing it will inspire someone else to save a family heirloom that might appear unsalvageable at first sight.

The back side is a Fish block made from a set of templates I purchases in Cowbridge Wales many years go; I like double sided quilts. Swiss Cheese can usually be found hanging over our bed, firmly tucked back in the family bosom. 29" square, 1998.


Anonymous said...

I gave an Aunt of mine a top and she had it tied by someone. After she died they found it and I asked for it back so I could fix it. What a mess. I had hand pieced the curved pieces and machine sewn the rest and it was a lovely quilt but totally ruined by tying.

I took the ties out and managed to repair the fabric and machine quilted it and put a new border on it. It looked lovely. No one should tie a top these days, no matter how fast!

I'm glad you rescued this one.

Grandma Shell said...

What a neat idea! I've been stressing because I wanted to get the new grandson a 1St Christmass ornament. One of those DUH moments. Why didn't I think of MAKING him one. Can even embroider on it with the new machine LOL