MCM #97 – Bringing New Life to an Old Quilt

My sister recently sent me a worn quilt that belonged to her step-daughter. It had been much loved and was in need of repair. Our goal was to fix the worn areas, replace the batting and backing, and make it usable again.

The quilt was originally tied, and a blanket was used for the backing. There were a few seams that were torn and needed repaired.

Ripped seam in quiltThe first thing I did was remove all the threads used to tie the quilt top. Sounds more tedious than it was – they were pretty easy to cut and pull out of the quilt. There was a big pile of threads when I finished.

Knotted Strings

After removing the ties, I cut off the binding and removed the back and batting. I would have rather taken the binding off by removing the stitches, but as you can see in the picture below, the binding was pretty messy. It was difficult to pick the stitches, so cutting it off was the best option for this quilt.

Worn Quilt BindingAfter separating the three layers, I clipped all the strings from the back of the top. After years of washing, there were a lot of threads from where the seams frayed. These needed to be removed before I quilted the top.

Look at all the threads I removed:

Trimmed ThreadsThat part might have been just a bit tedious. πŸ™‚

Fixing the seams stumped me for a minute or two. The seams were ripped, so there wasn’t enough fabric to simply re-sew them. I used a wide zig-zag stitch with a short stitch length and sewed over the seams, joining the two fabrics. There were three different areas that needed the seams repaired.

Seam RepairIt’s not the prettiest repair, but it’s effective and not as noticeable as I was afraid it would be. When looking at the entire quilt, the repairs blend in pretty well, so I was happy about that.

At first I worried about quilting over the dense zig zag stitch, but ultimately it wasn’t a problem. Sister wanted a very big, loose quilt design so it was easy to avoid the repaired seams when quilting.

After the repairs were made, I added Warm & Plush batting and a flannel backing. I quilted it with a really big all over meander, that took just a few minutes to do. Well, more than a few, but it was a super fast quilt job! The picture below shows the size of the quilting (and my foot, used as a deterrent to the wind.)

Quilting DetailOnce the quilting was finished it was time to add the binding. This quilt was the perfect project for practicing machine binding. I’m not a fan of machine binding, mostly because I can’t do it in a way that looks nice. But a few of my quilty friends have convinced me I need to use it more often on certain projects. So I tried it.

The good thing about machine binding this quilt is that the back is flannel, which helps the thread disappear. Here’s the back of the binding:

Maching Binding BackYou can just barely see the line of stitching alongside the binding.

Here is the front:

Machine Binding FrontNot too bad for a machine binding newbie! But I definitely need more practice. And tips – do you have any tips to share on how you do your machine binding?

Overall, sister and I are pleased with the finished quilt. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s ready for Jamie and her family to enjoy for many more years. I’m looking forward to sending this quilt back to its permanent home, knowing that it will get lots of use and cuddles. Which is all any of us can ask for the quilts we make, right?

Repaired Quilt

Knowing that this quilt is ready for many more years of love is my quilting crush for this week’s Main Crush Monday. Now it’s time for you to share yours! What has you excited to be in your sewing space? You can share any blog post, Instagram or Flickr pic – here’s how:

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About Beth

I'm a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get "licking the spoon" mixed up with "licking the fabric"!!
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24 Responses to MCM #97 – Bringing New Life to an Old Quilt

  1. helen says:

    interesting blog post as always Beth. This week I came across the cot quilt from my daughter, now nearly 27. A bit of rebinding and it looks, well, ok! A cot panel given a new lease of life. I think I see a blog post coming on.

  2. I love quilt rescues. Nicely done!

  3. Lynn White says:

    What a great job, it’s sure to be appreciated. And if the original quilter is around I’m sure they’d be thrilled to know their original work has been given new life. Lovely to see the process stepped out too, thanks.

  4. What a fantastic job! I hope your niece enjoys the quilt for a long time yet. Thanks for sharing the process.

  5. Great job renovating that quilt! I’ll bet the fabrics are so soft already after years of love. Your machine binding looks as good as mine, and I’ve done about 20 of them by now. My only tip is this: I find if I wear my Machingers gloves on both hands while sewing on the binding, I can both control the motion of the quilt through the machine and also feel that the binding is sufficiently pulled up around to the top so that the stitching on the back doesn’t overlap the binding. Does that make sense? I run my right index finger along just in front of where the stitching is happening. It’s easy then to feel if things are getting misaligned.

    I also use a stylus/Purple Thang to guide the corners through the walking foot as I approach each turn. Helps to keep the miters mostly lined up!

  6. I love doing those types of repairs! You did a great job on machine binding.

  7. anudge says:

    Thank you so much for walking us through that rescue. Very detailed and informative. It looks great.

  8. Susan says:

    Great job on the rescue Beth!

  9. What an absolutely wonderful job you did with this quilt…new life indeed. And it was interesting to see how you did it. Thanks for telling us.

  10. Great job Beth. You resurrected a family treasure and it will surely be loved. πŸ™‚

  11. Great job repairing this much loved quilt! One little tip that can help: after sewing the binding to the back, press the binding towards the edge of the quilt. It folds around the edge easier. I learned that at Crazy Mom Quilts. She has pictures and explains it much better than I can.

  12. I just recently started using a glue pen to help keep the binding in place for the final machine stitching. It made a noticeable difference for me. Attach to the back and iron/press away like normal. Then add a bit of glue to the edge of the double fold binding and press it in place to set. Work your way around the quilt top and then it’s really easy to machine stitch it where you want! Great repairs, Beth!

  13. Pingback: Hand Quilting & Machine Piecing

  14. Karen Goad says:

    that was a good way to save an old quilt for more use – good thing it is was tied!

  15. Kate says:

    What a great save! It looks good as new. I’ve never tried machine stitching for the binding, I really prefer to do mine manually, so no hints here.

  16. I finished off a mini-quilt for an online challenge over the weekend. =) And used up most of a charm pack (top, backing AND binding!) that had been in my stash for it forever!

  17. Nann Hilyard says:

    Ah, quilt rescue! It’s kind of nerve-wracking, isn’t it? But your turned out very nicely. I always bind quilts by machine. My sewing time is too short to spend hours on the binding. I sew it to the front, press it well, fold it over to the back, and stitch from the front. I usually use a zigzag just because (I consider it my “signature” binding stitch). And I just butt the corners. No one who’s received a quilt from me has chastized me for unmitered corners.

  18. rl2b2017 says:

    Hi Beth,
    It is so satisfying to me to read about a quilt being saved! That’s what we all want – our quilts to be used and loved to death. My nephew asked me if I would repair his quilt, and brought it to my in pieces. Umm, it was a little past ‘fixing’ so he got a new one out of the deal. I told him to give it back to me sooner next time so that little tears don’t become huge ones. I think you machine binding looks great! I have not tackled one for a number of years so I suspect mine would not look that great. ~smile~ Roseanne

  19. Cindy says:

    An old quilt, has a new life for years more use. Great job on the repair.

  20. Laura says:

    That quilt has YEARS of life back in it now! It’s so great to know the owner appreciated the quilt enough to have it repaired instead of tossing it out. You did a great job!

    I have a machine binding tutorial on my blog. I have never sewn a binding by hand! I prefer the look of not seeing the stitches on the binding on the front of the quilt. So from the front, you can’t tell if it was hand or machine sewn. (My tutorial is here if you want to see:

  21. Susan says:

    That was a lot of work, altogether, but it’s worth it to increase the life of a well-loved quilt!

  22. Lovely job with giving a new life to this special quilt. More cuddle time!


  23. What a great rescue! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this process. I’ve never tried machine binding before. It takes me so long just to get a finish there is no way I’m going to muck it up with a crappy binding. I might try it on a mini quilt someday, maybe!

  24. Liz W. says:

    Nice job fixing an old quilt! Now it can be enjoyed for many more years to come. Regarding binding, I machine bind 100% of the time, and I like it because it’s much faster and I hate hand stitching. I do it from the opposite direction of most machine binding tutorials I see. I attach the binding on the front, fold it over the back, then stitch in the ditch from the front which locks it down in the back). This way, it’s nearly invisible from the front, and it doesn’t look too bad in the back either.

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