quilt surgery

brace yourself.

this is not an easy thing to look at and, if you are anything like me, you might just find yourself gasping “OH BUSTER” or even worse…much worse.  there may be some swearing.

but, let me start with the story of a dog and a quilt and a little quilt surgery.  buster is the dog, and I’ve been asked to note that he was a totally adorable and wonderful dog in many respects.  I don’t doubt it.  I saw a picture and he was super cute.  but one day he attacked a very important quilt.  it had been handmade by the aunt of a baby boy who is now all grown up.  it meant a lot to a family and it was nearly impossible not to admire the thousands of tiny hand-stitches laid out with care in meticulous grids that swirled into an irish knot in every corner.

buster, I would imagine (despite his adorable-ness), wasn’t looking at stitch quality as he chewed right through the quilt. yikes!  and, that is how the quilt found its way to me.

could I? would I? save the quilt?

um, yup.

I had to start by cutting off the nearly 1/3 of the quilt that had been ruined.  slicing off the end of a beautiful, heirloom quilt is something I would prefer to do with my eyes shut…and if it weren’t for the fact that I wouldn’t likely cut a very straight line I would have done just that.  but, no luck.  so, eyes wide open I sliced it off.  phew.

then, after undoing many a meticulous hand-sewn stitches I was able to piece together border fabric and backing fabric and re-quilt to salvage the quilt.  there were other minor repairs to the other side and much hand stitching to re-attach the delicate binding.  but slowly and surely it came together.

here is a shot of the newly-stitch, un-bitten border fabric that replaced where buster had munched.   you can see how the binding was weather, love and time worn…in just the way a quilt should be after so many years.

in the end, I was able to save the quilt. albeit in a slightly smaller, slightly altered state.

for the quilt and for the family it was gifted to, it was just another chapter in its life. just another story that has been infused into this families’ longer tale.   and, that is how it works, isn’t it? a handful of imperfect moments leave a mark on us and we figure out how to repair and care for them.  we get older and have the scars or losses to prove it.  after all is said and done, it’s these non-shiny moments that make us more interesting…just like the time we swore at buster, the adorable dog, but, secretly we thank him for the great reminder.

8 Comments on quilt surgery

  1. Drea
    October 22, 2012 at 1:35 am (5 years ago)

    That was really, really lovely, MQ.

    • ahappystitch
      October 22, 2012 at 9:43 am (5 years ago)

      thanks dear. and, thank you, for being a big part of my long life story. you are the best.

  2. TM
    October 23, 2012 at 8:35 am (5 years ago)

    I am the baby boy in question, and yesterday I saw the repaired quilt in person for the first time. Buster was an incredible dog and I loved him very much, but he had terrible separation anxiety and hated to be in his crate for any length of time. The damage to the quilt was a result of him grabbing a hold of it through the gaps in the crate (I still to this day have no idea how he reached that far).

    This quilt is probably the most important heirloom I have, in that it was handmade for me by someone I hold dear and was my active quilt for my entire life until its destruction. I had more or less written off the quilt as irreparable, so it’s been hitting me in waves over the past twenty four hours how truly incredible it is that I now have it back in one piece. Melissa, you have added another brilliant chapter to this quilt’s story, and I can’t possibly thank you enough for your excellence and dedication within your craft.

    • ahappystitch
      October 23, 2012 at 9:16 am (5 years ago)

      TM! this means so much to me. thank you. and you are more than welcome, of course. it was truly my pleasure. hmm, now you’ve got me a little weepy.

  3. Kathy Kleeman
    October 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm (5 years ago)

    As the mother of TM, I am overwhelmed by your original post and his response. Now I am really, really glad I brought the quilt to you. There are few objects that have so much meaning as a hand-made heirloom,and now this one has a whole new life. Thank you, thank you Melissa!!!!

    • ahappystitch
      October 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm (5 years ago)

      Oh, thank you Kathy! This was such a great experience, I’m so glad I’m a part of the story!

  4. mama-pan | mary frances
    November 5, 2012 at 11:37 am (5 years ago)

    Melissa!! this is amazing. what a gift to your friends. I am going to share this with a friend here who was interested in salvaging an old quilt.

    and you–you could start up a side gig as a quilt rescuer.

    • ahappystitch
      November 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm (5 years ago)

      ….and, Miss Mary Frances are you going to sew a cape to go with my new title?


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