Now the winter holidays are behind us and it is time to settle down for some serious quilt restoration work. For as many projects completed this year at Born Again Quilts, there are many yet to complete. The work is steady as long as my calloused fingers can take it. Restoration work is done one stitch at a time from the underside of the fabric making for a laborious process. When complete and seeing the look on my customer’s faces as they see their once less than desirable quilt brought back to life is really special and makes all the work well worth it.
It’s been ten and a half months since I reported on the journey of Atreyu’s quilt. His quilt started its journey in Minnesota where a mother made it for her first-born son. After her death I purchased it from an Etsy site. In late October 2013 Judi Vaught decides to have it personalized for Atreyu, the first-born son of her good friend Crystal. In February 2014 Judi suddenly dies at age 50 leaving behind an embroidered crib sheet and fabric she had chosen in December to be made into a quilt for one of her grandnephews.
Soon after the article appears in The Waynedale News Judi’s sister Teresa contacts me. She is deeply appreciative of how well I caught her sister’s essence even though I only met her twice. She asks me what was the name of the grandnephew Judi had planned to gift with a quilt. I tell her the name was Connor. Connor it turns out is Teresa’s grandson and she expresses her desire to have Judi’s last gift to Connor fulfilled.
Teresa comes down to the studio and I show her the magnificent embroidery on the crib sheet featuring a puppy in his pajamas holding a lighted candle while the cuckoo clock bird chirps “Good Night”. I had purchased it on Etsy from Atomic Sisters out of Kansas. Sister Jan writes me that it came from an estate sale where the owner did not appear to do needlework herself but collected pieces from flea markets, tag sales and antique malls. Based on the crib sheet the woman had quite the eye for fancy work. Where a less proficient needle worker would have made long satin stitches, she makes the most incredibly small stem stitches to fill the areas around the eyes, tongue, clock etc.
When Teresa saw Judi’s color choices for the border and back, she wholeheartedly agreed. Since there was so much blue on the front, Judi had decided to use browns and greens to complete the piece. Judi did choose blue for Connor’s name and a shade of yellow for his birth date. Looking at the piece from afar, Teresa and I both felt the yellow would not show well and embroidering both in blue would better balance the piece, so this slight change was made to Judi’s plan.
The pajamas offered a challenge to quilt, so instead of stitching through the squares, French knots were added to every other row to give them a three-dimensional look and feel. The knots go through to the backside providing stabilization the same as if it had been quilted. The rest of the quilting outlines each object and then meanders around. Outside the cross stitch border are quilted stars. The borders sport a quilted chain design.
A “D” sleeve is created and attached to the back so it can be hung in his room.
Teresa picks it up on New Year’s Eve, eager to present it to Connor. At two and a half Connor isn’t a very verbal tot, but his squeals of delight and his hugs for his new quilt speak volumes. Now like Atreyu, Connor has a precious quilt to hold while his relatives tell him stories about his late Aunt Judi who died so young and yet touched so many lives.
Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio and quilt gallery located at 4005 South Wayne Avenue. WINTER HOURS: Wednesday 5:30-7, Saturday 9-2 p.m., or by appointment. 30-90 minute group presentations are available. For details contact BAQ at firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-515-9446.