Repairing Antique Quilts by Jean BrashearI’ve done this for a few of my own inherited quilts and for a quilt or two I’ve rescued from the scrap heap, but this is the first time I’ve done it for anyone else (and only love for a friend would induce me!) This quilt had been hung over the back of a bench outside by her grandmother for a number of years.

I can’t fix the sun damage, but one big hole that goes all the way through plus another small hole in the back and myriad places where the fabric has decayed were my focus.

I stockpile vintage fabrics when I can find them, but in the case of this quilt, having two unmatched stars would (IMO!) ruin the effect of this quilt. I found a fabric in the color family of the quilt and got my friend’s approval to replace both. Repairing Antique Quilts by Jean Brashear

I also found a solid green fabric in the color family of the green used here, and then verrrrry gingerly slipped it behind the most damaged sections, using tiny pieces of fusible web to hold the whole in place. This kept the effect of the original fabric where effective substitution of this green/white polka dot would have been impossible.

I had to pick out quilting to be able to make many of the repairs, then go back and re-quilt in the original pattern. This quilt was backed with a fabric that looks more like cheesecloth than anything else, so to repair various holes rubbed into the binding (this one was bound by wrapping the backing around to the front and stitching down) I had to use more of a darning effect. The only alternative to keep it from continuing to deteriorate would be to re-bind it completely, but then again, you’re changing the look of the quilt, and this quilt holds much-cherished memories for my friend.

Repairing Antique Quilts by Jean BrashearOnce it was re-quilted, the changes are merged into the whole and overall, it looks more like it belongs, do you think? I’m both eager and nervous, hoping my friend will be pleased!


  1. Beautiful!! Your friend should be very pleased with its outcome. You did a fantastic job.
    If you’re looking at doing another one – I have a quilt that was made by my great great grandma (she had made it as a wedding gift for my grandma) – I’m 69 so that should give you an idea as to how old this is. In all seriousness it’s in what I would call great shape. You can tell by the fabric that it was made from scraps from old clothing. There are between 16-20 small triangles where the fabric has simply rotted away or real close to it. I use it on our guest bed as the colors go so well in there. Unfortunately I do not quilt. ?

    • Thank you for saying that! I’m tickled to hear that you appreciate the treasure you have. She would be thrilled that you appreciate and use it!

  2. I can appreciate the work that goes into the quilts you are repairing, rebuilding….I had a aunt by marriage who did this all the time….she had a room devoted to quilting and materials and did great work…and would tell us how she found fabric to replace the destroyed portion….and the great amount of handwork she had to do on them….you have to have the patience of Job she said….it is a real challenge to complete these…..

    • It really does take patience, and I’m so surprised to find that I have it! Once upon a time, many moons ago, I would have a hard time finishing a garment if I had to rip out seams. Age has its virtues, I guess! I bet your aunt was a remarkable person!

  3. You just earned a set of wings for restoring this quilt. No one understands what thought has to go into the repairing until they have ripped those stiches. Getting it right for a sentimental item is so important and it really does take devotion to duty to do it.
    Recently I tried to explain to someone what goes into doing machine enbroidery on an item and they really didn’t have a clue. She thought you just sat at the machine and told it to go. I kid you not. She really had no idea. We should be proud of the special skills we have and enjoy doing it – but not as a lifetime job!

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