I consulted my friends, quilty experts and contacts, including art restorers, wardrobe experts, people who market professional textile cleaning products. And then I dug in to the mess. I had to hand wash it 4 times in Soak textile wash just to get it clean enough to work on.
Then I bought vintage feedsack scraps on eBay and made little patches for the really bad holes.
There was lots of hand sewing to be done and much going back as I'd see more holes, ripped seams and tears, but slowly it began to come together.
I fell in love with the fabrics the more I worked with them, and found little gems and favorite spots throughout the quilt.
The more I worked with it, the more I wished I could speak to the woman who made it... The whole process felt like a conversation I was having with her. There was a distinct primitive beauty about it... I can't help but wonder if this was the only quilt this sewist ever made. So many quilter rules were broken (which reminded me a lot of the natural beauty in the quilts of Gees Bend) and I just loved the innocence of it all. As I finished the quilt, I didn't square it up, I left the edges all wobbly and dealt with the wrinkles that were there as part of the design. I told the customer that these were beautiful and should be preserved as the voice of the original artist.
What a joy it was to finish it. I quilted it really tightly and backed it with Denyse Schmidt's Greenfield Hill line, a vintage inspired line that matched really well.... When it was finally finished, it was strong and safe enough to wash thoroughly with some of my favorite handmade laundry detergent... And what came out of my dryer at the end was gorgeous. It was an absolute delight to work on.