Fixing my Great Grandmother’s Quilt

Growing up we had a quilt in my house. This quilt was used, loved, and washed. It would travel with me and my sisters on vacations and to summer camp. It certainly got a lot of use. Over the years it started to wear and tear. I never thought anything of it until I started quilting and appreciating them. When I went home last May I saw how torn it was. My mom was talking about throwing it out. That is  when I decided to steal it from her and fix it.

So many of the quilt squares were torn or completely gone. The binding was shredded in many places and the backing was stained and torn. The top had to be saved, but the backing and binding could not be saved – by me. I took the whole quilt apart, fixed the top, and put it back together.

I started by taking the quilt apart. This part was not too difficult. It was originally tied. Some of the ties were already gone – the ones that were not, I removed with a seam ripper. This was a fuzzy mess.

When it came to repairing the torn blocks this was almost impossible. I had to replace over 30 blocks. Some could be patched or repaired but most needed replaced. I found it hard to find the rightfabric. It was originally made with a lot of clothing scraps and some other fabrics. I didn’t want to put too many modern fabrics in with it. I bought a lot of used or older fabric along with a charm pack.


To replace a block I used a seam ripper to remove the old block fabric. This was one of the most enjoyable parts of the process. While doing this you got to see how the blocks looked today vs. how they looked when the quilt was first made. Some fabrics looked completely different. The colors in the seams were so much more vibrant than how the quilt looked today.

For putting the new fabric in I had two options. Hand piece the blocks in or top stitch them in. I chose to top stitch. For each block replaced, I cut the fabric over sized. I then got it wet with spray starch. While wet I folded it to the finished size of the hole then ironed at that shape. A large piece of fusible interfacing (2-3 blocks bigger than the replacement block) was put on the backside of the quilt and ironed in place with the new block covering the missing hole. Finally, I used a zig zag stitch to secure the new block in place. While securing the new block I would also secure some of the surrounding seams. This helped give everything a little more support.


This process was repeated and repeated until all the major holes were filled. I also stitched together some random holes and patched others from the back. I was getting concerned when it was just the top because my new fabrics were so obvious (probably because the excessive amount of starch). Once I basted the quilt though it stopped being so obvious. Thank goodness.


I decided to tie the quilt as it was done before. I was not sure if I really wanted to do this, but it was the best way to finish it again. I think it would have had too many folds if I quilted it any other way. For the middle I used quilters dream select batting. I wanted it to have a lot of drape like it did when I was growing up. For the back I used a flannel sheet that my mom picked out. It had a flannel back before and it just seemed right.

Tying the quilt took a long time. I even took it with me to the solar eclipse and worked on it in our tent. My husband was so happy when I finally finished it in December and it did not have to sit in the middle of our living room anymore. I took it home in time for Christmas and gave it back to my parents.


I am proud of this quilt because it was one that I really had a special connection to. I certainly did not restore the quilt as a someone who does it professionally would, but I did make it so that my family can use it again.


My Husband and Dad holding the finished quilt






Can you find the new blocks? The first picture just shows the quilt. The second picture shows you which blocks were the ones I added in. I think I have too much fun with this.


Try to identify which blocks were replaced


Circled blocks are ones that were replaced

Thanks for reading and go quilt to it!


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