Friday, March 14, 2014

Surgery or a Band-aid?

I have a dilemma and I would deeply appreciate your thoughts.

This is a quilt that I made years ago for our son's girlfriend (who I'm happy to say is now my daughter-in-law and mother of our only grandchild).  With most any quilt, there are factors that make it special (at least to the quilt maker).  In the case of this quilt there are two:

  • She was working with leaf cutter ants as part of her PhD in microbiology.  Thus, the ant fabric was the genesis for what other fabrics would be used.

  • I paper pieced the Canadian maple leaf on the back.  I can't remember how many pieces are in this but I wanted to honor her with a special label. I will not do this again although I'm sure there is an easier pattern out there.  This is not my forte!

The dilemma is this.  I did not have easy access to a long arm machine at the time and quilted it on my Bernina.  I did straight line quilting about an inch apart and changed directions periodically for interest. But, all stitching was on the diagonal.  I really liked the look of it.

Now, several years later (8 to be exact) and after lots of use, the quilting stitching is breaking.  A lot.  I have the quilt in my possession and was going to repair it but was startled to find more than 30 breaks that range from 1'-1.5" to 3"-4".  And I suspect there are more -- this is black thread on a lot of black fabric and hard to see.

So -- I can only see two options:


1.  I can fix the black linear stitching like I had planned.

The good, bad, and ugly are:  I can do it pretty quickly; it will keep the linear stitching; and it will probably continue to rip out over time when the quilt is used.  So -- basically, it's fast and nothing else changes.  Essentially, a band-aid.

2.  I can put the quilt on Lola and quilt it with a more 'fluid" design in a different color thread and pick out the black stitching.  

The good, bad, and ugly are:  It will take longer; the linear "look" will be gone once I take out the black stitching; and it will be more secure with stitching going in lots of directions.  Essentially, surgery.

At the heart of the matter (I think) is whether the quilt is worthy of being saved.  It's not a show quilt and certainly not fancy.  It gets lots of use in a home that appreciates and loves my quilts and it's not the only quilt they have.  My son and daughter-in-law are NO help.  I mean NONE!  I believe they would be happy with either.  I am not happy with the fidelity of my stitching not being secure but I have never put a finished quilt on a long arm and then ripped stitching.  I cannot figure out whether it's "worth" it or not.  I am usually pretty decisive so being in limbo (or denial) is a new occurrence for me.

I welcome your thoughts and questions!

I hope you are finding time to create and not hamstrung by decisions!

Jan

27 comments:

Terri said...

I think I'd just fix... rip out enough to tie and hide the threads... the breaks may be a design element - especially if you say they are. Lol. You can always make them another quilt...
Hugs

Lucy @ Charm About You said...

Why not go over it as planned and then straight line in the opposite direction too. Crosshatch might make it stronger?!

Exuberant Color said...

Whether you long arm stitch over it or straight line stitch over, I wouldn't be tearing out the original stitching. Just cut any ugly loose ends. Like you said it gets a lot of love and doesn't have to have a new pristine look, just stitching to hold it together for more love.

Ashley Alexander said...

I would put it on Lola and re quilt it, then pick out the old quilting. Please don't hit me!
(Yes, I've done this myself!)

Quilt Musings said...

I'm not sure which is the best option. . . but I think what is undeniable is that your DIL loves this quilt (and truly, what is not to love!!) so I think it is definitely worth saving. Yes, we can always make a new quilt but it will never be the same.... What Lucy said makes sense though, cross hatching might make it stronger...

Kat said...

Why not long arm it and leave the rest of the original stitching? It saves you lots of time, and the stitching will continue to wear out over time. They can clip the loose threads as they develop. The quilt may not be worth a ton of time and effort, but you might as well stabilize it for some more years of love and abuse. PS- do you have channel locks on your machine so you could keep the straight lines?

Nancy said...

I read somewhere that if you quilt on a diagonal, it is on the bias. The fabric stretches but not the stitching! This causes the breaks. I found that out on a couch quilt I did for myself. The solution is when you quilt on the diagonal do a very narrow zigzag. Let's stitching stretch but looks like straight line quilting. Makes sense.

Pat said...

It's a great looking quilt. I agree with those that say leave the original stitching, just cut the loose threads, and requilt on the longarm. Best of both worlds. :D

Sue Daurio said...

I'm with Kat. I would throw it on the long arm quilt it and let the old stitches come out as they will. It's a beautiful quilt, I can certainly understand why she love it. Stitch it up and let it get back to snuggling :)

Rebecca Grace said...

I agree with those who say to clip loose threads but leave the rest of the original quilting, and do additional longarm quilting. To preserve the effect of the diagonal lines, why not do different fill patterns between the lines? Paisleys, pebbles, spirals, jagged zigzags... I'll bet you have a lot more quilting options mastered now than you did back then. Have fun with it and play!

Dee said...

Band-aid!

It's such a cool quilt! What a treasure to have for all the time use! Exactly how a quilt should be treated!

ChristaQuilts said...

It's such a striking design! I like Lucy's suggestion of quilting both directions, forming a crosshatch.

Andy said...

This is a fantastic quilt! I agree with a few of the other commenters - add the longarm quilting. I've never tried quilting a finished quilt either, but I think it should be okay!

Leanne Parsons said...

It's a beautiful quilt, well worth saving. I agree with Lucy's suggestion of cross-hatching. I think it would look lovely and strengthen the stitching. Good luck with whatever you choose.

Glenda said...

I first saw this quilt some time ago and fell in love with it and can see why it has been loved so much. Years ago I repaired a quilt and changed several of the fabrics with new pieces as the old fabric was not available any more, when I gave it back I was surprised to see the look on the owners face, but this is not my quilt she said???????? I think there is your answer they LOVE it like it is, I would try and keep it as much as it looks now as possible. It IS BEAUTIFUL. and it reminds your DDIL of a lovely time 8 years ago. Sorry not much help am I ???? Cheers Glenda

Maria Kitching said...

I know nothing about quilting so can't help with you problem but this QUILT IS WORTH FIXING!!!! It is beautiful.
Stampin' Up! Scotland

Plum Cox said...

I think that you should think about leaving as much as the original in as possible - it's clear that the quilt is loved! I'd probably go for the 'over stitch' on the long arm, which will support the original piecing / quilting - but I wouldn't rip out the original quilting, as that helps give the quilt its current character.
I'm sure that you will find the right decision in your heart and be happy with it, though!

Jamie/Maryland Quilter said...

I would stitch over the old quilting. That will secure it doubly and not change the quilt at all. Use maybe a new spool of black thread. Machine quilting cotton works great for me-- never had the stitches break like that.

Vera said...

It is pretty quilt but I can't imagine to unpick. I'm with those suggesting to run straigh stitching in opposite direction.

wombatquilts.com said...

I vote surgery, because you want the quilt to last another 8+ years so Lola is the best solution.

Esther Aliu said...

Its definitely worth saving, I think its a charming quilt AND it has history and meaning to all of you, so yes of course it's worth saving.

I would just point out here that you have quilters eyes and whilst YOU will always notice certain details, your DIL likely won't so don't be too worried, I'm sure they will love it regardless. That said, I would either go over the existing stitches or quilt over the stitches with a new quilt design, incorporating the old ones beneath it. Luckily the quilt is dark and you can really get away with a lot on this kind of top. I wouldn't try to unpick it because however loose it looks now, I have seen too many quilts go to ruin once the unpicking was commenced. This is definitely not a deal breaker, I think it can successfully be saved. Good luck!

Esther Aliu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
quiltswithpersonality said...

Given that it is a special quilt and well love any effort you put into fixing it will be worth it! Good luck. Thanks for sharing. Marie (mlismore@optusnet.com.au)

Erin @ Sew at Home Mummy said...

Hmmm... I think I'd opt for surgery, only because it's someone else's quilt. If it were for me, I'd bandaid it. Hmm... good luck with your decision, it IS a tough one! Can't wait to see what you do with it :)

J said...

I think I'd just do the repairing, although it would be hard to just dismiss this quilt if it were mine. It was made for a special person at a special time in both your lives. And personally, I LOVE the pattern and the way the red ants pop out at you! Lovely!

Janine said...

This is lovely quilt with a great story. I would expect taking the stitching out of it would take forever and possibly ruin the fabrics so I'd be inclined to stitch over the old stitching of the whole quilt with a stronger thread, I'm sure whatever you decide will be beautiful :)

Laura said...

OMG I did one just like that.. so much so that i had to look closely to see if you'd stolen my photo!!! :) Great minds must think alike!