How to Fix an American Quilt

As I’ve shared before, my mom’s family is full of quilters. To that end, we have a lot of quilts.

When my grandmother died, we got a quilt that she had worked on. I say “we,” my mom has the most claim to it, of course. She kindly offered it up when I was looking for a new bed cover.

This quilt is amazing. It’s massive, so comfy, and well worn-in.

torn quilt

Worn-in to the point that it’s starting to get worn out. I’m not about to give up on this quilt, though, so I busted out my hand-sewing stuff and got to work.

My go-to for these is usually the unseen mattress stitch, but since the fabric tore the way it did, I figured I wouldn’t have enough to turn over where you couldn’t see the stitches. Pinterest recently showed me another one of those repair-stitch compilations, and one of them had a clever repair for a large tear. You set it up like a mattress stitch, but then you go back over those stitches with an embroidery chain stitch. You don’t have to pull the stitches tight, then. I thought I’d give it a shot.

new stitch, visible on fabric

Of course, I’m still on that quarantine, “use what you have” train. I didn’t have any appropriately colored embroidery floss, so I used sewing thread. The finished effect was not great, I have to say. For the rest of the tears, I switched back to good ol’ mattress stitch.

I didn’t pull very tightly, but it turned out okay! I could trim those thready ends, but I’m a little scared to cut anything else from this quilt.

I’ll be interested to see how it holds up. If it falls apart again, I might use the machine to decoratively stitch through the whole quilt. The quilters will chide me, but whatever. I’m pretty sure that’ll hold up after washings.

Have you ever had to repair an old quilt? How’d you do it? Please tell me in the comments. I’d love for this quilt to last as long as possible (and if I don’t have to insult the real quilters, win-win).

3 thoughts on “How to Fix an American Quilt

  1. I have repaired quilts. The most challenging one being made of satin fabrics – it was a wedding gift. It was a nightmare. I reinforced the edges with fray check and often used fusible interfacing to help create fabric when the existing one was becoming threadbare. Oh, it was for a king sized bed. It took me months.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The quilt was intended to be for show only, and the newlyweds used it as their regular cover. Every. Single. Square. was sat on, ate on, mascara’d on and who knows what else! 🙂
        There was lace too. Lots and lots of lace. I did not make the quilt, I was just the fool who agreed to mend it.


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