What happens when a quilt has been too loved and has become tattered? It can be repurposed into your favorite craft! Let me show you my 2 favorite crafts using tattered vintage quilt pieces.
Quilts: to cut or not to cut?
I had a few quilts that I found at estate sales that were such cool colors and fabrics, that I could not resist them! The prices were right because there were several tattered and worn areas, and they were no longer viable to use as a whole.
It’s sad, seeing old quilts being discarded, or no longer loved. I have collected them for many years and love displaying them. But once a quilt had hit the point of no return, from being too worn, they often are discarded.
So although there is a bit of anxiety in cutting them, I feel like you are saving them! It gives them a new life, and a chance to be useful again!
What are cutter quilts?
Cutter quilts are old quilts that have areas that have worn out so much over time, that they are no longer useful as a full quilt.
The best way to utilize the quilt and its memories is to repurpose it into other crafts and decor.
Repurposing damaged vintage quilts
Repurposing damaged and tattered vintage quilts is the best way to honor them. We live in such a disposable world, and many times, when things aren’t perfect any longer, they are left behind.
But repurposing something that once was so cared for, loved, and crafted by hand can be very rewarding. Plus, I just freaking love vintage fabrics! The colors, mix of patterns, are always so unique to each quilt that was ever made.
Seeing these works of art gives me all the crafty feels. And because they have so much personality already, it is easy to make a simple craft that packs a lot of visual punch!
Cutting a tattered vintage quilt
This can be a bit nerve wracking at first, but once you take your scissors to it, you will see the possibilities come alive!
I like to cut around the main tattered areas, keeping the pieces I’m cutting into larger sections to use later or a bit smaller if I am selling the cut sections.
If the quilt has interesting edges, these too, can be cut away with some room for a sewing edge and can be repurposed alone.
Project 1: How I repurposed a vintage quilt into letters on a sweatshirt
I had this vision for a sweatshirt with the word VINTAGE across the front of it. After pondering using vintage fabrics from my stash, I decided on using a cutter vintage quilt that I had.
I found this sweatshirt and loved the way it fit. The sleeves were 3/4 length, and the bottom had side slits so that you could easily do a front tuck or slip your hands into your side pockets.
I purchased it in a light tan color, perfect for fall. It was also perfect for this vintage quilt I had pieces of, that I had cut apart to sell in my booth at the antique mall where I sell vintage.
Choosing my word
I thought about a few different words when I was planning this project. These were on my list:
create, LOVE, vintage, quilts, curate, old stuff, and a few others that were a bit off. I ultimately decided on the word VINTAGE. It would ask a host of questions:
Am I vintage? Is the quilt vintage? Do I love vintage? YES to all the queries!
Printing the word for a pattern
I laid out the word on my computer first, using a font that had thick lines. I wanted to see as much of the quilt pattern as I could in my letters, and with the word I chose, it couldn’t be too large since it was 7 letters.
A word like LOVE could really be made with much larger letters since it is only 4 letters. I used this font, and printed it in approximately x point type. I wanted the letters to be at least 2″ in height.
Cutting the letters from the quilt
After printing the word onto paper, I cut it out so I could see what the letters would look like across the sweatshirt.
Before cutting the quilt, I put the sweatshirt on, and marked with pins where the letters would be placed. This is a very important step. I wanted to make sure they would fit in the space where they needed to be placed on the chest area of the sweatshirt.
I laid the cut paper letters out on the sweatshirt to check for spacing, and then I prepared to cut out my letters from the quilt.
Prepping the worn quilt to be repurposed
I purchased a piece of heat and bond from my local JoAnn’s fabrics to place on the quilt and hold it in place where it would be sewn on to the sweatshirt. Heat and bond is kind of like a double-sided tape for fabric. It’s great for crafting, and I have used it in many projects.
All you do is iron it onto a surface, in this case, the back of my vintage quilt. It says to use a medium setting on your iron to adhere it, but I set my iron a bit higher since I was ironing it onto a fabric with multiple layer to it. The iron needs to be on a dry setting.
Once that was done, I pinned my paper patterns to the quilt pieces and carefully cut them out.
Considering the quilt pattern and colors
My quilt had several colors in it. The base of it was tan, like my sweatshirt, but it also had navy blues and light reds. Because these colors carry more visual weight, I wanted to make sure that they were spread out across the word I was using.
I also wanted to have some letters have a variety of colors and pieces of pattern in them, so I placed the paper pattern over these areas that I wanted to reveal.
Once they were all cut out, it was time to lay them out and iron them onto my sweatshirt.
Envisioning my quilt piece project before finishing
I carefully peeled back the paper, to reveal the bonding fabric, making sure to keep the layer intact. When you are ironing on so many thick layers, it may not bond as well as it would with a single fabric layer.
Once the paper is peeled, you will see the bonding fabric on the backing, as it has a sheen to it. I then placed the cut quilt pieces on my project, using a straight edge for a guide. I was ready to iron them on.
But first, I pinned them in place and put the sweatshirt on one more time to make sure I liked the spacing. I wanted to get this right!
Ironing on my vintage quilt letters
Once again, the iron called for a medium heat setting, but due to the fact that I would be ironing the top face of the quilt and through the batting, I turned it up to high heat.
When doing this, you just need to be careful not to hold the iron in one spot too long. You don’t want to scorch the vintage quilt fabric.
Some areas were so thick, that I turned up a bit of the batting and top, so I could iron directly on the edges of the backing. The top stitching I would do to finish it would ultimately hold it into place, but the heat and bond would allow the chunky letter to not slip around while I finished it off.
Finishing off my vintage quilt craft project
Since the look I was going for was vintage (literally my word) and I was using a tattered quilt, I was not looking for perfect finishing or a solid embroidery stitch. I used a loose zig zag stitch on my sewing machine to attach all the edges of each vintage quilt letter.
My thread was chosen to match the color between my sweatshirt and the quilt.
When cutting the letter ‘A’ out, I chose not to cut the interior hole of the letter. I simply used a straight stitch to make the triangle shape that would be in the letter center.
I also used a piece of interfacing on the back of the sweatshirt to stabilize the stitching a bit. A tiny bit of this vintage quilt will live on and get seen many more times, each time I wear this sweatshirt! I love it, what do you think?
Project 2: Heirloom Christmas stockings
I made these Christmas stocking almost 3 decades ago for our family, and each year they have received so much love. They were the perfect backdrop for some pieces of a vintage quilt I had purchased. I didn’t have much of it, but the colors were perfect for our Christmas stockings.
When I first made them, I began with some drawings I had from a folk art painting book. I created patterns for the pieces I would need for the shapes. You could even start with a drawing from a coloring book! The quilt pieces added such charm.
I made each one to match the person who I was making it for. I made one for each member of the family, even the dog. This one has had many names added to it over the years!
As time passed, our children grew and married. I had to find those old patterns from the original stockings, and made one for each of their spouses. Stockings are a pretty big tradition in our house, and the size was really important!
So many years later, our family is still growing. We now have 10 grandchildren! I didn’t make them stockings like the others. But I was thinking about making 10 little stockings from my current stash of vintage quilt cuttings. This could make a cute garland. I’m going to have to get crafting soon!
Repurposing old quilts, more ideas
Although I didn’t have much of the worn vintage quilt pieces that I used on the Christmas stockings all those years ago, I think the quilt details really make the stockings charming.
I have seen so many ideas over the years, using old quilt pieces. Here are some of my favorites I’d love to try.
my Favorite ways to repurpose
Vintage Quilt Pieces
- Quilted Jacket – make a full new jacket, line an existing one, or place a panel on the back.
- Home decor – perfect for pillows, table runners, flag banners, and more!
- Holiday decor – from ornaments to pumpkins, flags + bunnies, quilts will make them perfect.
- Personal items – try makeup bags, purses, eyeglass cases and more.
There are so many projects you can make from cutter quilts. Just think of the possibilities, and ways that you can give that old vintage quilt new life!
Adding meaning to your tattered quilt project
Just like my stockings, there are many projects that you can do that will bring meaning and new use to the vintage quilt parts that you could use. Think of things that could be used and enjoyed each day, so the quilt receives more love and use.
I have even seen frame mats for a beloved picture covered using vintage quilt parts. And what a legacy it could bring, if you had Grandma’s old quilt she made that needed to be repurposed, and then used a picture of her with family to frame.
Think of what means a lot to you, and what projects you are able to make, and I’m sure you will find a way to add meaning to those repurposed quilt pieces. Follow me on Pinterest for inspiration.