Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ill Fated

I've been definitely dreading bringing this up... but I know you want to know.  You do want to know what happened to my Penny Sampler, right?

the Penny Sampler

Yeah, I thought so....

A couple weeks ago I posted about some bleeding that occurred when I washed my Penny Sampler Quilt.  Although the purple solid backing (not Kona, by the way) had been prewashed, it bled all over the quilt.  In the comments, you gave me some great advice on how to fix it.

Since I had Shout Spray n'Wash on hand I first sprayed all the stains, let that sit over night and then washed again on cold with a color catcher.  I put that puppy out in the sun to dry, but no luck.  The offending colors didn't budge.

Next I soaked the entire quilt in a concentrated OxyClean soak.  Washed with a color catcher and sun dried, again.  Success!

 ill fated

And then not.  Yes, the purple/red stains came out, BUT a new color bled and even worse troubles befell us!!!  Sadly I'm serious.  But let's work up to it.

ill fated

First, what appears to have bled from the OxyClean soak is Kona Everglade (above 2 images), one of my favorite Kona colors.  I've used and washed it other times with no trouble.  Note it did not bleed until the 3rd wash, after the OxyClean soak.  Maybe OxyClean drew out the color in a weird way?  Also, I was only using one color catcher each time, which I've now learned (from you smart readers) is not aggressive enough.  It seems when you have a known problem you should use multiple color catchers.

ill fated

Ok, here's the other tragedy.  I used Essex linen/cotton blend for the background of this paper pieced block.

ill fated

I sewed generous seams as usual with paper piecing, and the thread did not break.  As evidenced by these pictures, the linen unravelled.  I've had unraveling issues before when combining 100% linen and quilting cotton.  This is the first time with Essex.

ill fated

Some seams that didn't open do show stress.

ill fated

Unfortunately, it did not happen only on that block.  This near bye Essex linen/cotton block in natural also threatens to unravel at the seams.  Sob.

I'm not faultless.  For one, I did not prewash these Essex fabrics, since I gave up prewashing over a year ago.  Given that linen is known to shrink more than cotton, methinks prewashing of linen is essential from here on out.  Also, I only tied this quilt every 6 inches.  I thought that was enough, but it certainly occurs to me that if it had been quilted or tied more densely the Essex may not have felt so stressed out as to fall to pieces.   Poor thing.

About the time of my Fix This post, I was thinking about gifting this quilt to my grandmother, who is moving away this month.  When my fixing efforts so horribly failed, my first response was denial.  I stuck it on a shelf for a week.  Then last week my grandmother was hospitalized for a staph infection.  I took that for a sign.

 ill fated

To patch the worst part of the Flower Pot block, I added a new piece of Essex linen with raw edges folded under and one long side tucked into the open seam.

ill fated

Then I used pins to bring the still-nicely-pressed-under polka dot seam towards the intact Essex.  After pinning tucking and pinning both opened seams, I zigzagged the patootie off this block.  I zigzagged all over, in fact, to reinforce virtually every Essex seam in the block.

ill fated

This neighboring Spruce Forest block had no open seams, but showed stress, so I zigzagged all it's seams as well.  That was a whole lot of quilt to wrestle, let me tell ya.  I stitched with top thread to match each quilt block and bottom thread to match the purple quilt back.  I think it worked out to not be an eye sore.

ill fated

What is an eye sore is this corner of the Flower Pot block, which was the worst.  Definitely not so square anymore.  Sad face.  But, hopefully its strength is renewed.

This weekend I gave my grandma her surprise gift at the hospital.  And I think she was really touched.  Yes, I did come clean about some of its problems and I gave her a color catcher to use in the next wash, but I didn't point out every single, ingle glitch.   Shhhhh......  If there's someone who can love your work even with its failings, that would be family.  I hope that for her it will be pleasant memory of our time together in South Carolina.  And now, I'm done talking about quilts with shadowy fates.

the Penny Sampler

I choose to remember my Penny Sampler in all her glory.  And I'm enjoying seeing her take on oodles of new lives at the hands of my students who are turning out so many lovely Penny Samplers!

Onwards.

67 comments:

  1. I am so glad you were still able to give this quilt to your Grandma. I think when there are little faults it makes it more personal and special, not being mass produced perfection. Thank you for being so honest about it all too - it is always reassuring to see that even quilt experts have problems too.

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  2. Yikes! But even with all the fixes the quilt still lovely. I prewashed all my linen on the medallion quilt but I did notice some stress even on the EPP section - perhaps my stitching was not tight enough. I ended up machine quilting the big seams. I haven't used Essex linen before - but I have used linen blends, which did not seem to shrink as much - I'm partial to the neutrals which still have that linen look and are inexpensive.

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  3. oh, my!!! What a nightmare!!! It's such a pretty quilt and I'm glad you were able to gift it to your grandma afterall.

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    1. Quilter's worst nightmare! Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic, but it was so frustrating.

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  4. This is an unexpectedly beautiful post! I know your grandmother will love this quilt. (And really, I find that my most flawed quilts are the best-loved around here.) *making careful fabric choices for my Penny Sampler over here* :)

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  5. I love what Laura has written! It's so true that sometimes the most flawed quilts are the best loved, they're the ones we can use all the time and not be so careful around! Your Penny Sampler is a very beautiful quilt and thank you so much for sharing so that we can all learn a little bit too!

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  6. It's probably because I got literally an hour and a half of sleep due to a sick toddler who also just (finally) got his paci taken away... but this makes me want to cry for you! I'm really impressed that you stuck with it. I'm absolutely sure beyond a doubt that it still looks incredibly beautiful.

    I'm left wondering what lessons to take away though. Will you use essex linen again?

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    1. Good question. I don't know if I'll use it in patchwork again. Maybe I need to stick with enjoying linen in projects where it can stand alone, like as a purse lining? I love linen in patchwork though, so I'd like to hope that with prewashing or some other trick I can learn how to use it better. Or, maybe the answer is really just more quilting. It will seem obvious to many, but it's been a learning process to understand just how important it can be to quilt densely.

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  7. I'm so happy you were able to gift this quilt after your repairs! I hope you start a new modern quilting trend: zigzagged quilted seams, because they look awesome and folksy!

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  8. I'm sad that this continued to have issues. It's wonderful though that you were able to salvage it and still gift it to your grandmother. I just finished a baby quilt for my niece and I used essex on that as well. About 1/4 of the way through sewing together the top, I realized that I had set my stitch length too long on some of the blocks and a few seams were pulling apart on the ends. I did some hand stitching to fix it, but I'll have to keep an eye on the quilt as it gets used and washed more to see if it'll need to be patched.

    P.S. If there are still any issues with the linen, use a little fray check on the unraveled parts before fixing. It's nice to have the extra insurance.

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  9. It's still a gorgeous quilt, and I'm sure your grandma still loved it because you made it.

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  10. Once I hand-pieced a crazy quilt, hand-quilted it, hand-bound it, washed it, and the whole thing unravelled. (It was one of my first quilts and I don't think the seam allowances were big enough.) There was much weeping and wailing when that happened. (I couldn't fix the seams; it was too far gone. So it's waiting to be cut up into smaller pieces two years later.)

    And grandmas love anything their granddaughters make, even if it is patched a little.

    What kind of color catcher do you use?

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    1. OMG, hand pieced, hand quilted, hand bound. What a loss! =(

      My catchers are Shout brand.

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    2. (It was about the size of a twin coverlet, so wasn't as bad as it could have been. And I didn't buy anything for it. XD)

      Thanks! I'll put them on the grocery list.

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  11. Rachel, thanks so much for sharing this! I'm sorry you had those moments of horror. Mine happened the first time I used red. And it was on a very difficult ( for me at the time) Christmas sampler. I didn't know about the color catchers back then. Sigh. Anyway, you were very clever in your fixes, and I'm sure it was a gift that will keep on giving!

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  12. Goodness knows this quilt now has a story to tell Rachel...so much more interesting a personality than a quilt with no story to tell :o)

    I remember a show my son watched with he was little (it may have been Arthur on PBS) where a little girl (DJ perhaps?) broke a doll given to her by her grandmother. She was ashamed to tell her grandmother why she no longer was playing with the special doll. When it finally came out that the doll was broken grandma told the little girl that the only reason the doll was still around to be passed on and loved is because of all of the times the grandma had it fixed when she was growing up. Does that make sense?? Many pieces of heirloom furniture in my home have a story to tell of the joy and use they have experienced through the generations of family that came before me. Mending and repairing add to the special quality and love of a piece...perfection is over-rated.

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    1. Such beautiful sentiments, Deborah. Thank-you. You're a blessing!

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  13. Rachel, it's still a beautiful quilt!

    I wonder if Connecting Threads solids ever run. I never hear about it.

    I've used Essex linen in flax and prewashed it and it still unraveled. It was EPP. Only the edges unraveled and not all of them. I thought I could cover the unraveling with the binding, but no, so I had to undo a bunch of the binding, replace the raveled pieces, and redo the binding. It was crazy. At the time, I said to myself that I would never use linen again, but I have lots of it in my stash in several colors, so I think I'll be using it again haha. I was actually going to try not prewashing next time.

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    1. Oh, man. We're doomed by the linen. It's just so pretty!

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  14. You have no idea how much I appreciated this post. Those of us who are "regular" quilters need to know that even our idols and icons and the pros encounter glitches every now and then. And we are all wiser because of your experiences.

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  15. Sorry to hear about the trials you had with your beautiful Penny Sampler quilt Rachel! But I'm sure your grandmother loved it even more knowing how much work went in to fixing it. I haven't done any patchwork with linen, but perhaps using a zigzag stitch when piecing the blocks would help? Of course, you would have to press to the side rather than press open (which I do anyway), but it may help keep the linen from unraveling.

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  16. This is my worst nightmare scenario every time I finish a quilt & throw it in the washer. So glad you could save. It's beautiful. I'm sure your grandmother absolutely loves it

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  17. I can't imagine how frustrating this must have been, but you seem like a silver lining kind of gal, so I'm sure you're grateful for the lessons you've learned. (I'm sure the rest of us are grateful to have learned them vicariously.) And the painful lessons we always remember, don't we? I think the quilt is even more beautiful now--I really love a quilt that looks like it has been used and loved. And you clearly loved that quilt and your grandma, because you worked so hard to repair it.

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  18. The rule of thumb when using linen is to make sure the seams are finished, either with zig-zag or a serger. It is a very loose weave fabric and will unravel after being laundered over time.

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    1. Now that's a rule I haven't been taught! I've seen so much modern quilting done with linen too. I appreciate you sharing! I feel like I'm the only one having linen problems with patchwork, but it's probably not so.

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    2. Here is a good article about sewing with linen. I would personally not use linen in a quilt that is to be laundered a lot. It would be fine for wall hangings. Thanks Rachel for sharing and inspiring us with your special talents.
      http://www.denverfabrics.com/pages/static/linen/linen-fabrics-fabric-care.htm

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  19. Thank you for sharing the whole story. I am so glad you patched the patchwork and I am sure your Grandmother truly loves it, it is beautiful.

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  20. So frustrating!! It is a gorgeous quilt!!

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  21. Oh, no - so sad! but you really did a great job fixing it and I bet your grandmother, or anyone else, would have ever suspected a thing. I totally would have come clean about it too, though! It is still beautiful and i know your grandmother is enjoying it!

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  22. Sorry for the headaches and heart-drops and tears that this quilt gave you! However, I think all the extra fabric patches and zigzag stitches make the quilt feel cozier and even more packed with love! I am in love with this quilt and think it turned out perfectly and am jealous of your grandma! Hugs, Laurraine

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  23. I don't use a lot of linens, but anything fine or open weave I use a light weight fusable interfacing with to aid in giving it strength not only in holding stitching, but for holding up to washing.

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  24. I'm glad it got some more love! I haven't given up on mine with the bleeds yet.

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  25. Oh Rachel! I'm so sorry this quilt had such issues! I could've told you about the linen, it happens even with heavy quilting. And it's worse with the black than the flax color for some reason. Anyway, it's still a lovely quilt!!

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    1. Really, it unravels even with heavy quilting? So, do you no longer use it for patchwork? Have you tried zigzaging the seam allowances before making the quilt sandwich? It sounds like that's a common approach, but I am only learning of it now.

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  26. I had a problem with air-erase sewing marker pen not coming out of an organic solid colour once (I think it was the Kaufman one) and it got my knickers in a twist. It eventually came out, over about 6 washes (I just kept my normal wash program, I didn't try and get it out immediately, although I did use spray stain remover each time). I feel your pain but I'm also super impressed how you've turned it around and come out with a still-gorgeous gift for your grandmother. Nice work, and thanks for sharing. You've no doubt saved someone a great deal of future angst.

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  27. eeeeek! Thank you for your honesty on this one - it's good to see how you fixed things up. I hope your grandmother gets well soon x

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  28. This read like a quilter's horror story! I think I actually screamed out loud.
    I'm glad you could patch things up though. It adds another layer that, even though it wasn't in your original design, at least is interesting.
    I'm immensely enjoying working on my Penny Sampler blocks!

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    1. Thanks, Muriel. Yep, this was a horror story. Should have saved it for Halloween ;)

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  29. I can feel your frustration! But Im sure your grandma loves it! It shows your love in each stitch! I got the Flax linen and Essex Natural on the mail a couple of days ago. Im off to wash it and I plan to zig zag the seams when we do the blocks. I hope it stands up nicely. I have made my girls quilt in Essex Linen, all of it, combined with Heather Ross in Kokka. So far I have washed it twice and the seams hold ok. May be the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting had something to do with it.
    Thanks for sharing this post with us. Im sending you a quilters hug!

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  30. HI. this quilt is lovely. is it still possible to enter the course? or will you repeat it?
    best wishes
    sandra

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    1. Thanks, Sandra! No, it's not too late to join at all. In fact, people have joined this week. You can buy into the classes at my store (http://stitchedincolor.bigcartel.com/) and then I'll get you access to the class blog. Premium and Camp versions receive an eBook of the course at then end of our journey. The eBook is a permanent record of all tutorials, with all templates and instructions needed to complete the Penny Sampler and all class projects. So, that way you can always finish it on your own time.

      Thanks for your interest!

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  31. Well done for you repairing all the bits and pieces! I’m sure your Grandmother will love this quilt. Do you feel challenged to make another one to keep yourself?

    As I planned to use quite some linen in the Penny Sampler quilt, I will make sure to zig-zag all the seam allowances before patching the blocks. I mostly use 100% linen from STOF Denmark and never had fraying issues, but I also bought some Essex linen. Not sure if I will use it in the quilt though!

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  32. Great story, great quilt. Some day you will get this quilt back (hopefully not soon) and you will appreciate it for what it is. Not perfect, sometimes troubled but beautiful to behold and well loved like a grandchild. You will see it as your grandmother sees it an "eye soar" and a "heart soar" but NEVER and eye sore.

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    1. You're so kind! That's the nicest way anyone's ever gently made me aware of a spelling error. Appreciated =)

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  33. I was thinking of using Essex linen too and now I'm not so sure. So sorry so much went wrong with this lovely quilt and so glad to hear that you were able to repair it and give to your Grandmother. I'm sure she will love it.

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  34. OMG!! This is terrible!! However, me thinks it's good that you discovered all this before actually giving it away right?!? :) You did a great job on hiding the flaws for sure and it's still gonna keep grandma warm and snuggled and feeling loved...and that's truly the point. :) yay! (It's beautiful by the way...it's the first time I have seen it finished.)

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  35. What a heart-wrenching story! I'm so glad, though, that it has a happy ending. Your grandmother was a perfect person to give this beautiful quilt. Who else is more accepting and loving than a grandmother? Despite the problems you had with it, I still love how it turned out. And I love that you put the time in to fix the problems. Well done! xoxo

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    1. Yes, I generally think that more quilting and especially quilting near seams would reinforce it enough. I need to remember that though!

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  36. This is a very very beautiful quilt and I´m so glad you were able to safe it! It will sure be loved by your Grandma!

    I also love linen in quilts as negative space, much more than white. All this fraying from natural linen kills me while I´m sewing but I love the results so much that I tend to forget all the swearing and fraying until the next quilt.

    I still haven´t practiced my free motion quilting skills so I usually quilt with straight lines in a grid or next to the seams. Maybe that has unintentionally prevented unralleving the linen pieces?

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  37. Oh no! You must have been horrified. I know it takes a bit to process and then decide what to do. I know your G-ma will treasure it. It's lovely

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  38. WoW Rachel! What a beautifully told story of patience, persistence and love. it is wonderful that you write about your 'mishaps'. It really puts a 'human' element into your blog. I am not sure if you have ever been up in Amish country to see the beautiful quilts. But it is said that the Amish always place a "mistake" in their quilts, because only GOD can be truly perfect. With all the beautiful work you produce and inspire us with thank you for sharing your human side.

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    1. Wow, that is awesome. Thanks for sharing : ).

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  39. Oh that is a sad story. I'm glad to see that you were able to mend it up and I am sure your Grandmother doesn't mind the imperfections at all :)

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  40. Oh that is a sad story. I'm glad to see that you were able to mend it up and I am sure your Grandmother doesn't mind the imperfections at all :)

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  41. I read this last night and gasped out loud. I have Essex linen in my Little Village, in some of my Dogwood Quilt square backings, and the entire background of my Spruce Trees is Essex linen. Maybe my mitten, too? I hate that this happened to you, and I will take advantage of your experience! Based on your story and the comments, I plan to serge or zig zag the edges before piecing into the big quilt - or I might use some interfacing. I was disappointed that one commenter said heavier quilting wouldn't help much, so maybe the interfacing is the way to go... Anyway, thanks for passing on what you learned. I'm so grateful!

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  42. oh i am so sad for you. and scared for myself! it never occurred to me that the essex would shrink at a different rate. this is a great lesson to learn and i hope everyone hears your story

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  43. Ahh man so many lessons here for all of us!!
    It's still a beautiful quilt Rachel...it's just prematurely aged...which is okay with me..always loving that vintage look xx

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  44. Thank you for sharing your problems and solutions with us. It helps to see that this can happen to anyone at any time. And we fix as best we can and move on. It's still lovely and made with lots of love.

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  45. Yikes! I'm using a ton of Essex linen blends in my own penny sampler. So glad to read this before I've put the whole thing together. Going back and zigzagging all the edges of any Essex I've already used.

    Question -- I haven't prewashed, but I could wash the blocks that have already been made, before putting them together in the quilt. Would that help at all? Then if they are wonky, I can redo or try to work them flat with the quilting. But then the cotton in them will shrink, and not match the rest of the cotton in the quilt, which hasn't been prewashed. ... Thoughts?

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    1. If you choose to prewash the linen blocks, definitely zigzag the edges first to minimize fraying. Also, you could handwash them, but you'd probably want to machine dry if inducing shrinkage is the goal. The problem is that this may shrink the linen blocks to the point that they are smaller than their proper size for the quilt, which would make quilt assembly difficult. One commenter said that she does prewash her Essex but that it does not help prevent unraveling. I think I would lean towards not prewashing the Penny Sampler blocks you've already created, unless you are fine with redoing them if they turn out too small. That's a hard one! So sorry I was not aware of this potential problem earlier!

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  46. I'm so glad that you worked it all out and was able to gift it. I'm sure that she will love it because it was made by your hands and with love.

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  47. Oh my. I have been super sad to find one seam busted open after pulling it out of the dryer. I can't imagine all those linen busts along with color issues. I'm glad you were able to fix it and still give it to your grandma. I recently noticed some bleached patches on my quilt that I used with two color catchers. The Kona Bone had some lighter patches after I washed it. It's not noticeable inside--just outside when I was taking pictures. I am guessing it was from the color catchers absorbing the color? Has anyone else noticed this before?

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    1. Actually I have noticed this. Some parts of the Kona Aqua, which is a light shade, looked slightly under-colored or "bleached" as you said after washing. I'm not sure if that has to do with the OxyClean or the color catchers.

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  48. eeeeeeek! i'm so sorry for all the challenges with this project. sometimes a project turns into a "teachable moment" and you seem to be handling it well.

    just a note: when i use linen, i use 0.5" seams and add some topstitching or do some zigzag on the seam allowance. it's a pesky fabric that needs extra reinforcement.

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  49. Oh jeez, so sorry to read about the problems with your beautiful quilt. You have taken this with a lot more grace than some... me (?). Last week I took my quilt with Essex linen in it to my long arm quilter person. I sent her an email immediately after reading your post today and asked her to hold off quilting it before I get a chance to come to her shop and we'll talk about changing the quilting to a more dense pattern. Although some of the comments haven't left me with much hope that I have avoided the problems completely. I love the look of linen but I don't think I will use it again.
    I do want to tell you about something you may want to start using. I began using Synthropol in my textiles college classes and have used it when washing my quilts and have never had a problem with bleeding. I haven't been able to find "color catchers" here in Canada. I fill my washer with water, then add the synthropol, swish it around with my arm and then add the quilt."Synthrapol as the afterwash keeps loose dye particles of dye in suspension so they don't stain other areas of the fabric." There is some other good info here at this site and it's also where I buy this product - they do not compensate me in any way - I use it and tell people about it because it works !
    http://www.dharmatrading.com/chemicals/synthrapol-detergent.html

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  50. Thank you for sharing this. Several years back, my husband and I were both laid up for well over two months. (me a broken foot and he multiple surgeries) Our lovely ladies of the church quilt ministry gave us each a quilt to keep us warm that winter. Over time some of the fabrics used in the making of these quilts has done this very same thing! You have given me an idea about how to fix and save them without taking them all apart!

    THANK YOU!

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