Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Repurposing Old Quilts

Recently one of the members of our message board community, affectionately known as The Parlor, asked for ideas on reusing an old quilt made by her grandmother. The quilt was in mediocre shape and becoming threadbare, but as family heirlooms go, she wanted figure out a way to repurpose it. After all, isn't more respectful to find a purpose for all that hard work that grandma did, rather than stuffing it into a trunk in the attic? i like to think Grandma would think so.

Here are some suggestions inspired by our community as well as some of my own:

Teddy Bears
Turn them into teddy bears for the family's children and grandchildren. Because they don't need to be washed very often, they won't wear as much. The best part is that you will remember that special family member whenever you see our hug the bears.

Framed Quilt Patches
Use a plain black frame with a white matte. Place 1 quilt block, or a block of 4, depending on the size of your frame, centered within the matting. Cover with glass and close the frame.

Baby Quilts
Cut good sections of the quilt and finish all the edges to make a miniature version. Wonderful as an accent hanging in the nursery, draped over the crib, and better yet, used to cuddle baby in.

Pillow Shams or Covers
Old quilts can be cut up and made into pillow shams for your bed, or make smaller ones to cover plain pillows for your window seat or sofa.

Be creative! Cut out squares of the quilt and sew a backing on it, stuff with batting and add a hanger for a keepsake ornament. For sections that have worn squares or unsalvageable areas, cut around those and make shapes, such as pine trees, birds, and circles. Stuff these, add hangers and you have some lovely keepsake ornaments. These make perfect gifts to share with family members!

Pin Cushions
Cut quilt sections , stuff tightly with batting and you have an ideal pincushion.

Rag Dolls
Similar to the teddy bear idea, turning old quilts into rag dolls make for lovely accents to a tea room or little girl's room. Adorable sitting on a shelf as well!

Seat Cushions
Covering the cushions of a window seat, or the chair pillows of your tea room or sun porch is a great way to use old quilts. Because these areas do not receive as much activity as general living areas, the wear and tear on your keepsake fabric will be much less.

Place Mats & Table Runners
Repurposing old quilts into place mats and table runners is another great option. They look wonderful atop a shabby chic wicker table or an old rustic wooden table.

Bags & Totes
While making quilts into purses is common practice, you might not want to turn granny's keepsake quilt into something that will quickly wear out. However, making a craft tote or yarn bag will remain mostly in the house and receive much less wear and tear.

Heart or Flower Pins
Cut 2" hearts or flowers from the quilt fabric, use a blanket stitch to finish the edges, use fabric stiffener to make the fabric hard and attach a pin to the back. These make lovely lapel pins.

You might also like: Caring for Heirloom Quilts 

Do you have any ideas to share? Leave them in the comments, or better yet, join The Parlor and post your ideas there!

Special thanks to community members PamperedLady and Sheila for sharing their ideas!


  1. This is a timely post for me. I have been pondering what to do about a quilt my grandmother made for me 45 years ago.
    She said it was made to be used. I did use it and now it is in need of GREAT love.
    Thanks for the wonderful ideas.

  2. Very timely post for me... was just looking at two handmade quilts from days gone by and wondering what I could do to preserve them... besides patching worn spots with some vintage fabric I've saved for such occasions, on the one which is still in relatively good shape. I have a grandchild on the way... and never thought about making a baby quilt from such... may just do that with the one which has a huge hole in it. Also... could use some of the vintage fabric from the one which is badly damaged to fix the one which is just worn.

    Your sites are very lovely... and informative, I enjoy reading them. Being 60, they bring back lots of memories and remind me of info I have long forgotten.... great reminders. Thank you ... especially like your Wordless Wednesdays. Use to live in Wisconsin and they too bring back memories. Am in Central VA these days.

    Would very much like to link this article in particular to my blog http://livingasimplifiedlife.blogspot.com/ ... is there a way to do this besides cutting and pasting? Am new at blogging. Want others to know about you and your sites! Would love to be a resource for great sites at my blog. bren

  3. I made old quilt bears, pillows, rabbits, hearts and more.I love old quilts. You have great ideas for them.

  4. AnonymousMay 16, 2010

    Thank you for these great ideas. Today I once again looked at Mamma's old quilts all worn and tattered with use through the years. Now that Mamma is gone I want to make something smaller and memorable to share with family members. Your information has really helped me.

  5. I am glad to have found this post. I have a quilt my grandmother made years ago and Iit has been suggested to cut it and frame it. It could hang in my sewing room as inspiration for my own quilting!
    Val B


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