Quilts and Quilting

Reparing the Christmas Quilt


I made this quilt for my parents while I was in college.  I was sharing a house with some people, I had a sewing machine, and I'd made a couple of other quilts before this and didn't really know what to get for my parents that year.  I thought they'd appreciate something homemade.  

The pattern is some kind of pinwheel pattern and is supposed to bring to mind poinsettias.  I cut out triangles and squares and diamonds (well, technically they're really just parallelograms, aren't they, since they aren't perfectly symmetrical like a diamond shape) from cardboard, bought all my fabric, traced and cut out all the pieces – and then realized that I'd done half of the diamonds (parallelograms) backwards. (If they'd been true diamond shapes it wouldn't have mattered, but all the parallelograms "lean" in the same direction, so the backwards ones would have messed up the overall look of the piece.  So I had to get more fabric and re-cut more poinsettia leaves.

Anyway, once I'd corrected that mistake, I assembled the pieces into rectangles and squares and then bigger squares and then bigger rectangles and finally, the top was done.  I have a feeling I cranked this out on the machine as fast as possible, because the corners aren't always squared off properly and because I know I tend to procrastinate, so I probably finally put the layers together and tied it off pretty close to December 25th.  

I was pretty happy with the quilt.  And at the time I'd convinced myself that my parents would be overcome with appreciation and admiration and there would even be tears of joy.  I'd put together quite the Hallmark commercial in my head.  So, of course, when my mother opened the box and pulled it out and said "Oh, that's nice, thank you," in just her regular "thank you for the gift" voice and no angels sang or music swelled to tug at heartstrings I was stunned and devastated.

Lesson learned.  Life is not a greeting card commercial.  Especially if you try to force it.  And gift giving should be about the recipient, not about my ego.  Got it.  Usually.

The quilt covered their bed every winter.  

Three years ago, after Dad had passed away and my sister and I were struggling to clean out the house, I realized I hadn't yet seen that quilt – it wasn't with the Christmas stuff or the sheets and blankets – and I suddenly HAD to find it.  I finally did – out in the shed.  I think Dad had used it to line the little trailer behind his ride-on mower when he was giving the grandkids rides around the yard one year.  The quilt must have been in there for several years, and mice had chewed through the fabric to make little cozy beds with some of the batting.  I took it home anyway, washed it well, and put it away to fix some day.


I've looked at it a few times over these past years, and finally I decided I needed to do something about all the quilts that are packed away for me to repair Some Day.  

So I made a list of unfinished projects, and there are five quilts that need repairs, plus one that needs to be finished.  The repair projects were all made by family – two by me, two by my grandmother, and one by Bill's mom.

The time of year made the first choice for me.  


Now, I don't have any of that fabric any more.  I decided to use fabrics that were close in color and pattern, and rather than try to blend them in, I chose to make the patched pieces obvious.

I also decided to just use the diamond/parallelogram shape, regardless of the location of the holes.  And I decided to use a freezer paper applique method to create the patches.  


First I made a template of the parallelogram, making sure to indicate which side – and therefore which direction the finished patch would be pointing – was up.  Next, I traced it a bunch of times on the non-waxed side of some freezer paper. The paper side is the correct shape for the final piece of fabric.


Then I cut out the freezer paper pieces, flipped them over, and pinned them to the WRONG side of the fabrics I was going to use.  Then I cut around the paper pattern, leaving about a quarter of an inch, maybe a little bit less, for the seam allowance.


Next step – fired up my iron and ironed the seam allowance over onto the waxy side of the paper.  The wax holds the fabric in place so I can create that nice sharp edge.



A few minutes later I had a bunch of patches almost ready to go.


I pulled out the pins and carefully unstuck the fabric edges from the paper.  Then I flipped the patch over and pinned it over the hole I needed to cover.


Next, I blind stitched the patch to the original fabric, removing the pins as I went along.



And pin, stitch, repeat until all the holes are patched.



Fortunately I had a supervisor throughout all of this.  Otherwise I'm sure I would have failed miserably.


The project took me a day or two.  I worked at my ironing board, with the bulk of the quilt draped over the back of the couch.  And I listened to all three seasons of The Crown as I stitched.


Ta da!  Otis supervised, Scratchy approved.  On to the next quilt.



One thought on “Reparing the Christmas Quilt

  1. Oooof.
    I’m glad you fixed the quilt. It’s so beautiful, and mending it made it not only physically more beautiful, but spiritually, too.
    No piece of kintsugi is more beautiful than this.

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