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Mend Your Quilt

Craft & Design Yarncraft

March Mending Month

Welcome to Mending Month on CRAFT! All month we’ll be bringing you projects you can do to bring new life to things you already own. First up is a continual project I’ve been working on: mending one of my quilts. It’s the first one my mom made for me, and it must have been ten years ago by now. The wear is all on the top, where the fabric just seems to be shattering at any point of bending (seams) or tension. I’ve been told it could be UV damage aggravated by sitting on the quilt all the time, but who really knows what caused damage like this! Here’s what I did to try to bring it back to life. I made an Instructable about this a while back, too.

Find the right fabric

I asked my mother to look through and see if she had any of the fabric she used to make my quilt, and it turned out she did. Not all of them are exactly the same, and that’s ok. As long as it fits the color scheme and roughly matches the print size, it’ll look fine.


Make paper templates

If you don’t have access to the pattern from which the quilt was made, use pieces of paper to make templates for each patch size you plan to make. Lay the actual size template on a new piece of paper and draw on whatever seam allowance makes you comfortable.



Cut the patches

Use a rotary cutter and plastic ruler (if you’ve got ’em) or scissors (if you don’t) to cut out your patches. Iron the seam allowances to the wrong side of the fabric, using the paper template as a guide. If you use steam, the paper won’t burn.



Affix the patches

There are many ways to attach the patch. Topstitch or zigzag on a sewing machine, or hand embroider/applique the patches to the quilt. Some methods make the patching more evident than others. Experiment. Let us know how it goes and leave suggestions in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Mend Your Quilt

  1. mara says:

    this is great, though i worry that by using the same fabric, you’ll be repairing it again in even less time. shouldn’t a quilt hold up longer than 10 years? or has it been sitting in direct sunlight it’s entire life? i use a bowtie quilt of my grandmother’s from the 1940s — granted it’s been sitting in a box for most of its life and now it’s in a dark room (i never bother to open my bedroom curtain since i only use the room for sleeping) but it’s in great condition. (also, i plan to rarely launder the thing.) what’s the shelf life of the average cotton quilt that is actually used?

  2. HB says:

    I have a quilt that’s 8 years old that has been LOVED, carried everywhere, used on my bed as my primary blanket, washed frequently, and it’s totally falling apart. I’m thinking about taking the top off and requilting it etc (the batting is worn very thin too). I don’t think its unusual for quilts to fall apart with lots of love (I have/know other injured quilts from lots of loving).

  3. KYouell says:

    Just use the damaged quilt as the “batting” in a new quilt. I’ve done that before when I’ve found quilts that are beyond repair. It works with yard sale/flea market finds that you don’t have an emotional attachment to very well.

  4. Tryllyam says:

    Thank you so much for these tips. My grandmother gave us a quilt on our wedding day that almost immediately started tearing wherever there was a black piece. Something must have been wrong with the fabric. I was heartbroken and she had no idea how to repair it, saying it would just be easier to make a new quilt. (Except she was starting to have problems seeing due to cataracts, as well as arthritis in her hands. :() This may just give me a way to make the quilt usable again, and we’ve been married 17 years this December, so you know how long that poor quilt’s been sitting unused.

  5. Alaina Zulli says:

    >>i worry that by using the same fabric, you’ll be repairing it again in even less time.<<
    It’s possible that the original fabric was poor quality, but 10 years of sunlight will reduce *any* fabric to a brittle crisp. Sunlight aside, I’d say 10 years of nightly use is pretty good for a cotton quilt.
    re. paper templates. I’ve never had a problem with burning paper with the iron (although I guess it would, if you hold the iron there for long enough), and steam will cause paper to shrink and buckle.
    Becky, next you’ll have to do appliqué stitches!

  6. Teri says:

    I am currently facing repair a quilt handed down to me. It was made by my great grandmother and is pushing 100 years old. It’s a crazy quilt, and she clearly used leftover fabric from shirts and dresses and the like. Some of the fabric is practically rotted away (very fine fabric, likely from a blouse), the velvets are worn down, the entire top of the quilt needs dire work. My quilting aunt suggested that I carefully replace the rotted, damaged bits from my own fabric stash, put a new backing on from a nice flat sheet I don’t use anymore and use new binding over the original, and then go over the original embrodiery that is along each crazy patch. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, but now I have this helpful tutorial to guide me in giving a family piece another good 100 years!

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  8. Lei Ho says:

    Thanks to all of you, I now have a good idea what to do to repair a quilt my grandmother made and which I had given to my son’s family. I knew there would be some wise quilt lovers like you who could solve my dilemma!

  9. Kathy says:

    This is great. I was just given a quilt that my husband’s grandmother made about 75 years ago. It is to given to a female in the family. I’m entrusted with trying to repair it, and then give to one of my granddaughters when they come of age to properly care for it. I’ve been wondering how to fix it….this gives me a direction to head. Thank you so much.

  10. Karen Ferguson says:

    Thank you so much for this…..I have several all hand-stitched quilts that were my grandmothers’ from MANY years ago and I need to do this to preserve them. They are very loved quilts that we have used for many years.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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