Skip to content

Patching the Patchwork Quilt

When I first left home, many many years ago, my mother gave me a patchwork quilt which she had made for me. It’s a fascinating piece of family history to look at – it contains patches made from both my school dresses and those of my sister, fragments from skirts and dresses I associate with particular family holidays, pieces from lots of my mother’s dresses that she wore to work, and even a few bits from some lengths of Egyptian cotton that I haggled for in the souk in Aswan on my first big solo holiday.

I use it as an extra layer on top of my duvet on cold winter nights, and Christopher used to sleep under it regularly in the summers instead of using a duvet as it was cooler. Over the years it must have been washed and tumble-dried literally hundreds of times, and it’s beginning to show its age. Many of the fabric patches have faded badly – with the surprising exception of the Aswan cotton which is still pretty much unfaded. I chose better quality than I had realised at the time! In fact it’s very clear that the quilt is made up of varying qualities of fabric. It’s not just a case that some patches have faded more than others. Patches made of particular fabrics are less robust than others and are disintegrating with age.

It started with the edging, which began to fray quite badly in places. A couple of years ago I bought eight metres of bias binding and bound the edges all the way around. That fixed the fraying problem, and also made a surprising difference to the look of the quilt, unifying it a bit like a frame. But then some of the patches of particular fabrics in the body of the quilt developed holes. It’s not the stitching which has given way, but rather the warp and weft of the cotton fabric itself. I don’t think it’s moth holes, just wear and tear. Fortunately, because it’s a true patchwork quilt and the pattern is random rather than regular, it’s moderately easy to mend it by appliquéing another patch on top of a holed one.

I washed the quilt again over Easter, preparatory to putting it away for the summer, and noticed that it had developed a load more holes. I didn’t have any suitable cotton fabric to hand to mend them with, so put it to one side until I could get to a fabric shop to buy a suitable end-of-roll remnant. The knitting shop in town also does some sewing supplies, and the woman there directed me towards her stock of “fat squares”. That’s not a term I’d come across before, but seems to be craft-shop code for an expensive way to off-load fabric remnants to quilting enthusiasts!

I’ve spent this afternoon patching about eight holes in the quilt, and it now seems to be sound again. And I’ve got most of the “fat square” left for running repairs if necessary next year.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. SallyB | 26 April 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I think they’ll be “fat quarters” – a yard/metre of fabric cut into 4 pieces

  2. Gillian | 26 April 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Aahh, that makes sense! Still an expensive way of buying small amounts of fabric though…