What Hand Sewing Can Do for a Raggedy Old Quilt

One of the best seamstresses I know says that doing anything “by hand,” makes “hand” a four letter word. When we mention any project that might involve stitching with old-fashioned needle and thread, she wrinkles her nose and shakes her head.  “If I can’t do it with my machine, why would I want to do it at all?”

Funny. She’s in her 70’s, I’m in my 50’s, and it’s me who is in love with handwork.

Sewing by hand is relaxing. There’s no pressure, no hurry, no noise. I can do it while I’m watching t.v., riding in a car, or sitting in bed.  But what’s even better about hand work is what a few well-placed stitches can do.  Take, for instance, my obsession with fixing old quilts.  I buy them at flea markets and yard sales. Usually, they’re in terrible shape, with blocks and panels and parts coming unstitched. Often they have gaping holes and shattered fabric.  But that’s part of their charm.  I love spending quiet time literally “re-connecting” the dots, fixing the stitches of the frayed and frazzled seams.  There’s joy in repairing things, in revitalizing something old, in appreciating the beauty of something tattered and real.

This is Project #3 in my completion of old quilts. I’ll post the first two I did in the near future. I know that I am not an expert stitcher. I’ve never been trained in repairing old quilts.  I’m even including some close-ups of the resulting ridges and puckers from imperfect repairs. But it’s not perfection I’m after. Just a face-lift. Bill and I will enjoy these old quilts and take pleasure in their age and their beauty, knowing that if I hadn’t cared, they’d be languishing away, tearing their stitches out, in some old pile at a  flea market.

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