Quilts are awesome, but they have a tendency to fall apart as they age. And if you don’t know how to sew, or you just don’t want to sew it back together, it might be tempting to toss it or store it away.
I’ve had this problem with an old quilt I got from my grandmother. It’s a beautiful blanket, but the stitches had come undone in so many parts of it. I wanted to learn how to quilt and sew it together myself, but never got around to learning. I can sew, but I’m not confident in my abilities to add a seamless stitch to a finished quilt. It’s a delicate-looking quilt, and I like that about it, so adding decorative stitches that would show was also a no-go for me.
There are places you can send old quilts to for repair, but it was going to be $100 or so just for them to inspect it. (Plus you have to ship it.)
Meanwhile, I wanted to be able to actually use the damn quilt.
So the other day, I tore the winter linens off my bed. It’s been warm in Georgia all week and they needed washed, anyway. It was too warm at night for the winter comforter, but too cool for just the woven, cotton blanket we keep on the bed. The quilt was the perfect extra layer the bed needed, but it still had rips in it. I was afraid sleeping with it would make that worse.
Frankly, I’d had enough of not being able to use the quilt. So I decided to just dive in and try to fix it.
How to Fix a Quilt When You Don’t Know How to Sew
1. Inspect your quilt.
Lay the quilt out flat, so you can see the whole thing. Mine was rough. In most areas, the threads had just come out or torn. In a couple, the fabric had ripped.
All of the squares looked like that. -_- This was the worst, though, because some of the purple fabric was torn.
Fortunately, the triangles all came up in a way that made them REALLY simple to fix.
That third photo was the worst bit. However, the triangles still made this one of the easiest parts to fix.
2. Test your glue in an inconspicuous area.
Following the directions on the back of the bottle, I found a small area near the edge that just needed a little fix. I dabbed some glue on it, quickly moved the fabric into place, and voila! The glue worked. I was so psyched.
3. Trim fringes and loose threads.
These areas will get stuck in the glue easily, potentially ruining your work. I’d recommend trimming all the fringes as you inspect the quilt in step 1. That way, when you’re working with glue all over your hands, you won’t wind up with thread stuck to you and falling off in inconvenient places. (This happened a lot.)
4. Carefully work top-to-bottom through the problem areas.
Since this glue dries fast, you need to work quickly. However…this glue dries fast, so you need to also be careful where you put it. If you accidentally put the fabric together unevenly, that’s just how it’s going to look now. This happened to me a few times. Fortunately, the quilt, no matter how much I ironed, is apparently meant to look a bit wrinkled. So you can’t tell unless you get up close and really look for the mistakes.
Be sure to start from the top of the quilt, working from one side to the other, and make your way down to the bottom. This makes it easier to keep track of where you are.
The tweezers aren’t entirely necessary, but they’re helpful if you’re trying to unfold a small piece of fabric.
5. Be careful not to use too much glue.
If you use a lot of glue, it will show through the fabric. While this glue dries clear, it does does cause the areas it soaks through to look much darker than the rest. Like a giant wet spot. So be very careful to just dab the glue.
Use the old rag to occasionally wipe the tip of the glue bottle, and your hands. It’ll make it easier to keep working.
This process is way easier and less time-consuming than sewing. However, it’s not as easy to go back on once you start. So make sure you’re prepared for the consequences if it doesn’t work out.
This is only for quilts with mild wear-and-tear. If you need to replace the batten or whole chunks of fabric, this tutorial is not for you.
Also, this is not going to be a permanent fix. Over time, this glue will wash out and I’ll likely need to redo it. However, this quilt sits on top of two other layers (sheet and bedspread), so it won’t get washed as often as everything else.
This took me two hours to do, because every part of the quilt had some sort of damage. But it was worth it! I used my quilt immediately after I finished fixing it, and it held up nicely through the night. We’ll see how it keeps over time.