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Remember back to middle school when you told your 6th grade science teacher that your dog ate your homework but in reality you forgot it at home? No, maybe that was just me.
But dogs really do eat things other than middle school homework; sometimes they take chunks out of beautiful T-shirt quilts! You wouldn't believe some of the calls we've gotten about dogs and repairing quilts.
Right - Bad dogs Ginny & Edgar
“Hi Andrea, I spoke with you a few weeks ago regarding my quilt. My puppy took a bite out of it along the trim. I’m hoping that you will be able to repair it for me, as it’s such a beautiful quilt that you made for me a few years back. Here is a picture to give you an idea of how big it is and where it is. Please let me know what you think and I will send it out to you right away.”
“Hey Andrea.... We have a small situation with Julia's quilt. One square has a tiny hole in it. Our dog ... Can you help?”
Yes we can help! It won't be easy, but we will get through this together! Fixing a T-shirt quilt is a much more involved process than getting a new notebook for science class.
Step One - Figure out the scale of the damage.
There are three layers of a Too Cool T-shirt quilt: the T-shirt part, the batting and the backing. Did your dog make it through all three layers? Or was it just one or two layers? Before we can create a plan of attack to fix your quilt we must know how many layers were damaged and the extent of the damage.
What you need to do is to take a few good photos for us so we know what to expect.
Step Two - Clean up the edges and create a patch.
If your dog is anything like mine, nothing they do is neat or clean. So we first make sure the area is neatened up and we have salvaged all that we are able to. Then using another shirt you send us, the closest color backing fabric we can match,* and extra batting, we sew a patch on.
This is where the time and labor happens. Because the quilt is already made, we have to sew the patches on by hand. Sewing by hand takes time, especially if the holes are big and all over the quilt.
*Why do I say the closest backing color we can match?
Because all fabric dyes will fade over time and with exposure to light. As you may know, artwork is often stored in dark rooms when not on display to minimize fading. But this is a quilt that has been lived with, washed and used, not the Mona Lisa. So some fading is to be expected. We do our best to match the backing color of your quilt during a repair.
Step Three - Re-quilt the repaired area.
When I say it like that it sounds easy. But it’s not. When we put an already quilted quilt back onto the long-arm machine we do things a little differently. We have to have two people hold the quilt flat and a third person running the machine. The machine is then moved over the quilt. Read more about long-arm quilting here.
In the photo to the right, the white block was sewn by hand over another damaged block. The box was then requilted.
Repairing a damaged T-shirt quilt isn't easy, but we understand that your quilt is more than just a something to keep you warm. Your quilt holds your memories and tells you or your loved one’s story.
And that is why we go through all the hard work when a quilt needs to be repaired.
We won't scold you like my 6th grade science teacher did... But next time, don't let your puppy eat your quilt!
To learn more about having a T-shirt quilt made from your T-shirts, consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers's Guide. It's a great place to begin your T-shirt quilt journey.
Back to: Care of T-shirt Quilts