Despite what some people may tell you, there’s no right or wrong way to repair an old quilt. Some methods may be more appropriate than others, but it comes down to personal preference and your sewing and quilting capabilities.
Repairing an old quilt can be a long and tedious process, depending on the amount of damage and technique you use. You’ll find that all your hard work will pay off, though, because the quilt will continue to be used and cherished for many years (or generations) to come.
So, whether you’re an avid collector of antique quilts or someone who is simply looking to restore their favourite piece, these tried-and-true repair techniques will help you to ensure that your quilts will be made to last.
Before we get started, please take note that none of the methods mentioned here are suitable for repairing your treasured family heirlooms. Unless you are an experienced quilter confident in their abilities, mending these quilts is best left to a professional.
If you have other items that need to be repaired, you can try the following techniques:
Method 1: Create a Patchwork
An old quilt with a hole in it can be easily repaired by patching it. You can do this by using one of two methods:
1. Quick and Easy
If you’re not too bothered about following good design practices, then this approach will work well for you. It involves choosing a piece of leftover fabric that you like and sewing it onto your quilt to patch up the hole. You can use a zig-zag stitch to accomplish this, which will stop the patch from coming undone.
Since you don’t have to be too precise when following this method, you also don’t need to worry about matching any of your thread colours. Another great thing about this method is that you can get extremely creative, but if you’d prefer to use a more methodical approach, you might find that the next technique is more up your alley.
2. Neat and Tidy
This method requires a little more time and effort on your part, but you might be more satisfied with the result if you’re looking to preserve the original character of the quilt. Here’s what you need to do:
Create a template of the patch on a scrap piece of paper.
Find a piece of fabric that closely resembles the material surrounding the hole you want to patch.
Cut the fabric so that it’s slightly bigger than the hole.
Put the paper template on top of the fabric and, using a hot quilting iron, press the edges of the fabric around the paper. This will give the fabric a crisp edge that you can use as a guide for sewing it onto the quilt.
Remove the paper and pin the fabric over the hole.
Using a tight zig-zag stitch, sew the patch onto the quilt and voilà! Your quilt is as good as new!
Method 2: Darning Your Old Quilt
This method can be applied to quilts that only require minor repairs because small holes or tears can be mended with simple stitches.
Again, this method will allow you to get very creative because you’ll be able to experiment with stitches that you may not always use.
One of the other great things about using this method is that you can choose to incorporate it into the quilt’s design instead of trying to hide it. For example, by using contrasting thread colours that will make the stitches stand out.
Of course, you may also choose not to draw any attention to the site of the repair. You can achieve this by matching the colour of your thread to the colour of the fabric around it, so no one will even realise it’s there.
Method 3: Deconstructing Your Old Quilt
In some cases, you may have to accept the fact that the quilt you love is beyond repair. The good news is, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the quilt can’t be salvaged. You might still be able to repurpose some of the old fabric and use it to construct an entirely new piece.
This means trimming away all of the fabric that’s still in reasonably good condition and either using it to create something new or simply putting it back together as a smaller version of the original.
This can be a delightful way of breathing new life into an old quilt that has meaning for you. After all, what could be a lovelier keepsake than your great-grandmother’s worn-out quilt, transformed into a smaller blanket for a relative’s new baby?
You should be warned, however, that the process of deconstructing and reassembling a quilt can be a painstaking one. For this reason, it may only be worth your while if the quilt has sentimental value to you. On the other hand, if you find this sort of work rewarding or therapeutic, you can always turn it into a hobby. Or perhaps even a business.
Method 4: Appliqué Patches
Appliqué patches are another creative way you can cover up holes, rips, or unsightly stains in your favourite old quilt.
This method is similar to the first method mentioned here, but rather than using a square piece of fabric to repair. You need to use an appliqué patch. Using this technique will allow you to develop some exciting and fun designs that will give your quilt a new lease on life.
If you’re new to quilting and sewing, you may be wondering what appliqué is.
Appliqué (pronounced uh-PLEE-kei in English) is a French term for a type of decorative needlework that involves sewing or sticking pieces of fabric together onto a larger piece to create a picture or a pattern.
There are several different applying appliqué, but the most common one used for quilting projects is hand appliqué. You can also purchase a pre-made appliqué if you prefer.
To make your appliqué, you’ll need to do the following:
- Decide on a design that you like and draw it onto a scrap piece of paper. Make sure that the design is large enough to cover the entire damaged area.
- Using a pencil, trace the design onto a piece of lightweight paper-backed fusible webbing. Make sure that the design is a mirror image, otherwise the shape of the final product will be reversed.
- Roughly cut out the design, leaving some space on either side of it.
- Place the design with the glue side facing down onto the back of a piece of fabric of your choice.
- Iron the design onto the fabric.
- Now you can cut out the shape using the lines that you traced earlier.
- Peel the paper off the back of the shape.
- Position it with the right side facing up onto your quilt and iron it on.
- Now the shape is stuck to the quilt and is ready to be sewn on.
- Use a tight zig-zag stitch for sewing the appliqué patch onto your quilt.
Method 5: Recreating Your Old Quilt
Some may consider this method a form of cheating, but that’s really just their opinion. If your quilt is utterly beyond repair and you decide that the best way to salvage it is to create a copy, then that’s completely up to you.
However, keep in mind that this method is going to be very difficult to achieve.
For one thing, finding the right fabric is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The best thing for you to do in this case is to try to find fabric that closely resembles the original quilt’s in colour and design.
So, if you decide to go this route, you’ll have to accept that your version of the quilt will not be an exact copy of the original. Changes will have to be introduced at some point, but see it as an opportunity to add your personal touch to someone else’s work instead of just copying their design.
One very innovative way to use this method is to reproduce a larger version of the old quilt. This way, if you have a child or a grandchild that outgrows their baby quilt, they will still be able to take it with them into adulthood.
There are many ways for you to mend your old quilts. The ones that we’ve looked at here include:
- Patching holes with plain fabric squares or appliqué.
- Repairing tears with simple stitches.
- Taking apart your old quilt and incorporating the salvaged fragments into a new design.
- Recreating a quilt that is beyond repair.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how to repair your old quilts, you’ll be able to give them the care and attention they need to remain treasured family items for years and years to come.