When my mother went away to college, her grandmother made her this quilt for her dorm room bed. When I went away to college, my mother gave it to me for the same purpose. After so many years and so much use, it isn’t holding together as well as it used to, but now (thanks to an Ikea shadowbox frame), my mom and sisters and I can all each have a little piece of family on our walls all the time.
One twin quilt yielded six of these, given as gifts this Christmas. They were easy to put together and took very little time. I laid out the original quilt and examined each section. Because the half-square triangles that make up the blocks are scrappy, I looked for segments that were the most interesting or had the best colors for each recipient. I cut through the quilt–totally the hardest part–and separated out a section to fit the shadowbox using the cardboard frame backing as a cutting guide.
Each section was bound as any other quilt would be. I used a neutral Kona so that the binding would fade into the background. I wasn’t particularly concerned with the edges being perfectly square or even, since I love the whimsy and wabi sabi effect that lends to these vintage pieces. The finished and bound section was sewn–literally sewn–to the backing board before being placed back inside the frame. A few back-and-forth stitches masked in the binding seam anchor it to the interior and keep it supported behind the glass.
I’ve asked for years how to save and preserve a vintage quilt that shows wear and damage. I tried patching this one, and I tried leaving it in the closet. In the end, the best way of saving it was to cut it apart–ironic, but there it is. This way, we each get to enjoy a little bit of it and see it every day.
Truth? I’m even thinking of using the bits that are left to make a tote bag. I’m not sure if I’ll need to place it inside a clear vinyl layer or not? Since the fabric is so damaged? But I love looking at it and enjoying it–and the further I get from my hesitation to cut it apart, the more I fall in love with the idea of having bits of it appear in parts of my everyday life.
How about you? How do you use quilts that have been passed down to you? Or how would you like to see the quilts you’ve made be used in 50 years?