Thankfully, the before and after experience of the abdominal surgery I had in July was not as bad as I thought it would be. But, there were some surprises with the things that we all take for granted, for example, it can be a big surprise to discover that sneezing, coughing, laughing, or even the thought of these things, will remind you to hold onto your belly for dear life, for fear of it splitting open. Similarly, turning over in bed, or getting in and out of bed will have you puzzling about the safest position to do these manoeuvres without your belly once again splitting open. Now, several weeks later, the anxiety of a split belly following a sneeze has gone thank goodness, and only the odd twinge remains to remind me.
I needed some stitching to keep my mind occupied while recovering, and I had some simple meditative stitching to keep worries at bay. My friend helped me a lot with the usual distractions. She also had a bed coverlet – given to her by ?, but now forgotten relative – and it needed to be repaired. It was a handmade hexagon top stitched onto a background fabric, that was folded over (top, bottom and sides), to the front and the corners mitred. There was no wadding or batting in the middle. She thought this would be a good project to keep me occupied, no time scale, just to do something if I could.
I laid the coverlet on the floor, there were quite a few missing hexagons, and some torn fragile ones. I was most struck by the variety of fabrics used to make the hexagons, how small they were, and what on earth had I agreed to do anyway? It is difficult to see any missing hexies from this photo above, you just have to believe me. I have placed a 50p coin to show the size of the hexagons.
I separated the hexagon top from the background fabric and set about replacing to torn, missing and damaged hexagons. I found one complete ‘paper’ and that measured 3/4 inch, measured against one of my 1 inch hexies. I replaced about 30 hexagons, and probably restitched that many again where the stitching had come undone. The hexagon top measured 84 inches x 45 inches, and the whole coverlet measured 104 inches x 65 inches when back together; it covers a single bed easily. The green background fabric is 2 pieces joined in the middle, and I think the width of each length is about ?40 inches.
Photos of some of the damaged areas, and fabrics in the coverlet.
When I finished the repair, the coverlet needed stabilising somehow, otherwise it was at risk of further damage. I decided to stitch the hexagon top to a piece of cotton – actually, part of an old duvet cover. This worked well, and then I stitched the top back onto the background fabric, this was probably the most difficult part of the job, trying to keep it straight, and prevent any tucks happening on the back. I wanted to do a sympathetic repair, the fabrics I chose from my bag of scraps fitted in very well, and I really had to look very closely to spot them when I had finished.
I used a few stitches to secure the top to the back in random areas. The above photo – on the right – is from my friend showing the coverlet on the bed in her spare room. I am really pleased with my efforts. I think this must have been started in the 50s or 60s, or even earlier? Maybe some of you can recognise some of the fabrics. I dread to think how long it took to stitch, but I am full of admiration for whoever did spend the time making this beautiful item. I am calling it a ‘coverlet’ because there is no middle layer, as there is with a quilt. However, if any of you know differently do let me know, I would love to have a definitive answer.