How to Repair a Quilt

For quite some time now, Joseph’s quilt (which is his chosen “item”) has needed some major repairs. I must admit I put them off for too long. If I had caught some of them earlier, like the fraying on the binding, I would have been able to do much prettier repairs. But, such is life.

I’m going to go over some techniques you can use to repair a quilt for the sake of preserving its life. If you’re looking for heirloom quilt repairs, you should probably look elsewhere. Just sayin’.

Before I started, the quilt (which was made by my famous sister, Naomi) had some huge holes in it. Some of them were holes that went completely through the quilt, while others were only one layer deep.

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I had let it go so long that some of the biding was just hanging off like a special little shoulder strap for carrying it around.

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I started with the front, where some of the small patchwork squares were completely threadbare.

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Others were in need of intervention, but not quite as bad the one above.

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In order to prevent more fraying from occuring (and it will because I have to wash it since he sleeps with it every night), I need to completely cover up the worn areas. This requires a patch, but I have to be careful because some of the fabric is so delicate that sewing too much will weaken it even further. So I decided to go with a simple freezer paper template approach.

I wanted to preserve the general look of the quilt which started out as this.

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So I made a freezer paper stencil in the shape of a square that is slightly bigger than the squares on the quilt. You won’t want to stitch directly on any of the original seams, so being slightly bigger was the only way for me to go.

First you’ll need to iron the freezer paper onto the wrong side of the fabric.

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Okay, so I’m aware that the freezer paper is wrinkled. At this point I can’t remember why, but I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I packed two-thirds of my sewing stuff back in December and have been sad and lonely ever since. This was probably a piece of freezer paper I found in the bottom of my sewing basket or something.

So here we go, ironing it on.

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Now fold each edge over the edge of the freezer paper to make a nice clean fold. Press.

Repeat with all the edges.

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Pull out the freezer paper and press again.

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Pin it to your quilt.

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Magically my fabric changed color and print. Wowza!

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Zigzag around the edges like so.

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I like to use a zigzag because it puts less stress on the fabric below.

And there you have a patch made from a freezer paper template. You can keep using the template over and over – that’s the great thing about freezer paper! It only sticks temporarily.

I think I’ll leave the other repairs for another post. So stay tuned if your quilt looks like this:

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Cheers!

201 comments

  1. Morgan says:

    Lol @ “special little shoulder strap” and “wowza”. You’re awesome. I was going to say how my kids’ special items aren’t quite as special as yours, but then I remembered how V won’t let the baby play with Duckie (because Duckie smells bad, but apparently not too bad for V to sleep with her) and how Pink Cat arrived just in time to potty train with E. Just saying.

  2. Susan Denney says:

    I agree with the awesomeness part. Love you for saving his lovey. He needs it so much right now.

  3. Julie says:

    Thanks for the great lesson. However, mine was chewed by a puppy and looks like the last photo. Did you do a tutorial for that, as well? I’m not seeing it listed under tutorials. :)

    • Hi Julie,

      All I did was trim off about 2 inches off the edges and then serged them – it definitely wasn’t very difficult (or amazing either). I can’t bring myself to post that tutorial because we lost this quilt right before we moved. :( It is his special blankie and it is killing me that we may never find it!

  4. Bunny says:

    Did you ever publish a “part 2″ to this post? My cousin sent me a quilt that our grandmother made years and years ago asking if I could repair it for her. The quilt is a mess, with a lot of it looking like the last picture in the above post. Also, it’s not cotton, but a collection of all sorts of knits/polyesters. My cousin said it was the last and only thing she has from our grandmother and anything I could do would be appreciated. I love your tips in this post and was eager to read the second part but couldn’t find it.

    • Bunny says:

      so sorry! just read the reply to the last post above mine. should have done that before posting. So sorry you lost the quilt!!

  5. Temple says:

    I have a question that might seem elementary, but I have a huge king size quilt to repair. Some of the fabric mom used has simply gone to threads through the years…just one color of course…through the entire quilt. My question is, how do I fit that big old thing under the arm of my machine in order to do the zig zag stitches near the center of it? Suggestions?

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