To Conserve, Repair or Repurpose

A friend of my adult daughter has ask me to do something, anything with all or part of her old baby quilt.  It has traveled life with her, even going as far as Paris, and she’s not willing to let it go.  When she handed it to me, she said she’d love to use it, but it could also just be used as a throw on a guest bed or such.  She was even willing for me to take it apart and only use some of the material in a new quilt; however, she was obviously relieved when I said I intended to save the entire rocking horse.  At the bar where we met, it looked in better shape than when I got home and unfolded it on my cutting table.  I have walked in and out of my sewing room for days since and have pondered the best way to save this quilt.  Due to the worn and ripped nature of the quilt, I am thinking I want to conserve so it can be thrown as a display rather than for snuggling while reading or such, as this material will just disintegrate, IMO.  But, please tell me what you think.  So here are some pictures:


We have a rocking horse with a yarn mane and tail.  The yarn is in good shape and secure. The following photographs show the wear and tear.  Even the good blocks have fabric that appears fragile to me.



You can see the last row of blocks and the binding are in horrendous shape all the way around the quilt.  My thought is that I will remove one row of blocks all the way around the quilt top.  I will cut the back into squares to replace the rows.  The back is the 6th photograph.  I just hope the old top does not rip further while I am sewing on the new squares.  I will have pre-washed, possibly bleached to fade the new fabric for the back and binding.  I will also use a light man-made batting.

I need to secure the ripped or previously mended seams.  One thought was to use a light stabilizer to keep them in place.  However, one conservator indicated to baste the area with a piece of cloth behind the week point.  The basting stitches will be obvious, but the material added to the back will help to keep the new stitches from causing the material to rip in a new area.  I’m also thinking that I might add a full size piece of muslin to lay behind the quilt top to alleviate some pull by the rest of the quilt against this fragile top.

Initially, I thought quilting the quilt might help secure the squares in the top.  However, the original top was not quilted so I’m questioning the thought of adding quilting through the three layers.

Should I use stabilizer or fabric for supporting the deteriorating seams?  Would you quilt the three pieces together?  Would you use muslin behind the old top for support and strength?  What else should I think about?  What else should I know?  I would love any and all opinions or advise that you can give me.

(Please forgive some of my white balance in the photographs…obviously, my eyes are not consistent when editing the photographs.  I’ll work on that as well!)

Happy Holidays!




About quiltify

Crazy about functional art: quilting; travel, family, and New England.
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2 Responses to To Conserve, Repair or Repurpose

  1. You are certainly more of an expert than I will ever be, but I think I’d be tempted to use the muslin behind the updated top. I’d also be asking you for suggestions on long arm quilting the entire project to further hold it together. Seeing that it has a rocking horse front and center, maybe the quilting design could be a rocking horse or something that would go with it from her childhood. What else did she treasure from her childhood? Fun project but also a challenging one. 🙂

    • quiltify says:

      OK, so you would long arm quilt the project to hold it together. That was my first thought. I think I’d have to do it freehand so maybe I’ll draw up a rocking horse to throw in periodically…. Good thoughts, Thanks Judy. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a conversation about it to help clarify…

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