Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Give New Life to an Old Quilt

This is actually one quilt.  Both the front and the back are beautifully hand-pieced, hand-stitched, hand-quilted.  It's beautiful.  But it's falling apart.  It was in my mom's sewing room when I cleaned it out after she passed away.  I don't know if it's a family quilt, or something she picked up on one of her treasure hunts (I am my mother's daughter).  So, it's been sitting in my guest room for six years.  Finally, over the weekend, I mustered the courage to cut it up and use the bits that weren't tattered and threadbare to cover some pillows for our couch. 

 The first cut was the hardest.  I stood at my cutting table, quilt spread out, rotary cutter at the ready.  I just stood there, not quite willing to move forward. 

And then I just did it.  Like ripping off a band-aid.  

 And, you know, once I made that first cut, it wasn't so hard to make the next, and the next, and the next.  Before I knew it, I had cut out my pillow shapes.   As I was cutting away, I thought you might like a little toot-toot-tutorial on how to make pillows from a vintage quilt that might be hiding in your sewing room.  As one of my Instagram followers said to me, if she'd made the quilt originally, she would love knowing it is getting a new life.  So, don't be afraid of that first cut.  It gets easier after that.  

To start, cut a square 1" larger than your pillow form.  For example, if your pillow form is 24"x24", but a square from your quilt that is 25"x25".  This will be the front of your pillow.

For the back of your pillow, cut two rectangles.  In this case, cut one rectangle 25" wide x 16" high, and another that is 25" wide by 20" high.  That will give you a nice overlap in the back.

For the two back rectangles, I finished the overlapping edges with binding.  In the spirit of re-purposing, I used a favorite chambray shirt of mine that I added to my scrap pile last year when I ripped it on something.  For your binding, whatever it's made of, you'll want to cut a 2-1/2" strip the same length as your rectangle width.  In this example, 2-1/2"x25".  Fold that strip in half lengthwise and press. 

Next, pin your binding, both raw edges along the edge of your rectangle and stitch.   I noticed that my quilt stretched quite a bit, so I was very glad I did the pinning.  I think there would have been too much stretch and not enough binding if I hadn't pinned.

Press your binding, and fold it over to the back of the rectangle.  Pin in place.


Your bound edge will look like this.  Repeat for second rectangle. 

Next, with right sides together, pin the larger of the two rectangles to the pillow front. 


Then, pin second rectangle to pillow front.  Stitch.

Clip your corners.

Turn your pillow inside out.  I used a plastic chopstick to get my corners nicely turned.  I wouldn't use anything as sharp as a knitting needle (my preferred tool), because I'm afraid it would poke right through the fragile fabric of the quilt.

Et, voila!  A lovely bound pillow "envelope".

 I'm tickled pink with the way they turned out!

The quilt was large enough that I could do a 24" pillow from one side of the quilt, and a 16" pillow from the other side.  Awesome!

 I'm thrilled with my new pillows.  And now that they're finished, I see this quilt every single day, revamped as pillows, when before the quilt was in a cupboard in my guest room, out of sight.

And I've got some lovely scraps for other projects.  Fun!


Anne D said...

What a lovely way to extend the enjoyment of your family heirloom!

Diary of a jazz widow said...

Very helpful!