Story Submitted by: linmcquilter

I was visiting an old friend I hadn't seen in years. After I shared my relatively new interest in quilting (about 5 years worth), she said, "Maybe you'd like to see my mother's quilt. It's nothing fancy, but it needs repair. Perhaps you could tell me what could be done with it." I love old quilts, and was anxious to see it and give some advice! My friend brought out a bed-size quilt that her mother had made. Her family was Mennonite (akin to the Amish), but this was the only quilt her mother had made. And her mother died early, when my friend was a little girl, of pancreatic cancer. This was the only thing she had left from her mother, as her father had re-married and everything else had been disposed of. I examined the quilt carefully, and this is what I found: The background fabric was white, and looked like cotton dish towels, seamed together. Each block had an embroidered flower in it (all the same design.) in pink and green. The embroidery was frayed in places. The outer border, a light green, had deteriorated in places. The hand-quilting, which was a simple channel design on the diagonal, was missing in several places. As I examined the quilting closely, I could see it was not particularly skillful, but nevertheless beautiful in its own way. The thread was pink. I laughed when I noticed one of the channel lines got "lost," and actually diverted into an adjoining line! I imagined this mother wanting to make a quilt but probably feeling the effects of her illness. Perhaps it was going to be cross-hatched, but she didn't have the energy to do that. The binding was also in poor shape, and my friend shared with me that her stepmother had tried to repair the first binding, but didn't do a very good job. It was simply stitched onto the edge with the sewing machine, and was uneven and unsightly. I decided the back of the quilt was OK, as my friend told me the quilt would not be used as a bed quilt, but would simply be displayed. I wanted to leave as much of the original as possible. Needless to say, I brought the quilt home to work on it. I was thrilled to find a matching hand-quilting thread, and set to work. I picked out old, frayed stitches and re-stitched, trying to match the original quilting. I did the same with the embroidery stitches, using matching floss. Then came the border. With today's vintage fabric reproductions, I was able to find the exact solid green! I was thrilled. I removed the tattered parts and inserted new borders where necessary. The binding? I totally removed the binding that was there and put on new, again using a matching vintage reproduction. Nothing was more rewarding than being able to return this quilt to its owner, now refurbished and ready to display! I trust it will be a comforting reminder of the mother she lost, the love they shared, and also our friendship. I was so happy to be able to help.

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