It is always difficult to send off a quilt to a competition/exhibit wondering if it will return to you, and if it does, will it be in good shape? I had become used to my quilts coming back in nice pristine condition looking as though they were better taken care of than I would have done myself. I didn’t check the quilt back in November when it finally arrived back safely. I noticed it had been packaged poorly and was returned in a small FedEx box for crying out loud!, even though I was charged an additional handling fee above and beyond the other shipping costs. However, because I had never had to worry how well my quilts were treated in the past, I just put the quilt away and did not go over it carefully for any kind of damage that may have occurred after I sent it. Bad move. That misjudgement may have been costly this time.
I got out the quilt last night from the cabinet to get it ready to ship off to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Virginia to be shown in a couple of weeks and I was horrified, no I was sick. The back area of the quilt around and across the sleeve area was badly soiled. Quite literally, it looked as though it had been dragged across a concrete convention floor (think black). Then there was the food spot. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the fabric of the sleeve had a small tear. I had no time to take the old sleeve off and create a new one in order to remove most of the damage before getting it shipped off by the deadline.
At this point I calmed myself, I pulled out my special fiber safe cleaning solution that usually works on everything and my Q-tip swabs and gently worked to get the black marks off the quilt. The quilt wouldn’t make it through the first round of judging like it was.
As I worked to remove the “skid marks”, I quickly came to the sobering realization the soiling was not coming out! At this point my eyes were starting to well up with emotion, but at the same time I was telling myself to be calm and keep at it.
There is a point when you do have to stop, assess the wear on the fibers of the fabric and see if the quilt can take any more of the gentle washing. It couldn’t. I did the best I could. Some of the marks have faded in intensity and some are going to remain there forever as a not-so-gentle reminder of the experience.
You are probably asking, “so what has this got to do with breaking your own rules?”. That would be the rule about “no glue on my quilts”.
The second step in mending the quilt was the hole in the sleeve that was caused by the small tear that had to be repaired. There is no way it would be OK like it was. Now I HAD to get the glue out of my cabinet and use it. Let me say though this is not any ordinary glue. I do not advocate using glue on quilts, but in special cases aka emergencies, I have to pull out the heavy artillery and this is the glue I use.
It really does dry relatively soft as long as you use a very thin layer. This stuff also really nails down the wild threads too. I used it to mend (again on a time crunch) one of my children’s clothing tears and it did a beautiful job until I could mend it properly. So I applied this stuff (notice how I can’t bring myself to even use the word “glue”?) to the torn threads of the fabric sleeve area. I let it air dry and it did a great job. Hard to know the tear is there, but still……
I guess technically I haven’t applied glue to my quilt, I have applied it to the sleeve that will be removed when it gets home and replaced with a new one.
All in all it could have turned out a whole lot worse. One of things about entering competitions is you have to assess the risks involved with your quilt, even the unforeseen ones. So this is what I have learned from this experience and what to do going forward:
-Stain treat the BACK as well as the front.
-No matter what show it is…check the quilt over well upon its return.
-Decide if that is a show that you want to continue sending your work to and if so, be fully aware of the risk and responsibility you are taking on if you choose to submit in the future.
-Sometimes you HAVE to use glue so never say never.
I will keep my fingers crossed that this does not happen again and use as many precautions as I can on my part to prevent a replay of this event. I hope my experience helps those of you who enter shows to take extra precautions to protect your quilts. Quite frankly, there is really not much recourse if something does happen to your quilt so eliminate as many opportunities as you can to let something go wrong during its journey.
The quilt is off again to Virginia and so continues the adventures.
© 2009 Sandra Leichner http://www.sandraleichner.com