How to Repair Old Quilts

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton reproduction fabric
  • Cotton thread
  • Needles
  • Pins
  • Scissors

You've inherited some antique quilts, found a treasure at an auction or the local thrift store had some old quilts at bargain prices. There are many reason why you may acquire old quilts, but in many cases you will need to repair flaws in them. Whether it's ripped seams or missing fabric pieces, you can bring your old quilt back to display condition.

Identify the flaws in your quilt and decide which need to be repaired. For valuable antique quilts, leaving them alone is frequently the best thing to do. For regular older quilts, however, repairs can help prolong the life of the quilts. Find seams that have come unraveled, split pieces of fabric, missing patches and binding that need replacing.

Purchase replacement materials that are as close to the quilt original as possible. Go to thrift and antique stores to look for vintage fabrics. If vintage is not available, get high-quality reproduction fabrics. Always use 100 percent cotton in all of your fabrics and threads.

Sew any open seams with a single strand of cotton sewing thread. If a piece of fabric is split or missing, replace it by carefully appliqueing a similar piece in place. Match the fabric as closely as possible. If the binding is missing, replace it with the correct kind. Generally, before 1900, straight binding was used. After that time, bias binding was the norm.

Consider rebuilding your quilt if large pieces are missing. Salvage any blocks that you can, and make replacement blocks out of reproduction fabric for those missing. Set blocks in an era-appropriate quilt setting, and mix old and new blocks together.

Lay your quilt out when the repairs are finished, and cover it with fine netting, such as bridal netting. Gently vacuum the entire quilt to remove as much dirt as possible. Hang the quilt outside in a shady spot, preferably in a breeze, to help remove any odors. Fold and store quilts in your house away from direct sunlight.


  • Always wash fabric before using it to replace patches in your quilt.


  • If there is any question about the value of the quilt, consult a professional before attempting any repairs.


About the Author

Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.