New Life for Old Quilts

Recently I’ve been making things out of old, ratty quilts I find in antique stores – usually for not very much money because the quilts are in such sad shape. So in keeping with the philosophy of getting something from nothing, I’ve turned these quilts into stuffed animals, pillows and home decorations. The ultimate reuse and recycle! Yes, I am aware that I cut up old quilts instead of repairing them – but I’m ok with that because these quilts are feeling the love again and being USED and ENJOYED and really isn’t that the original purpose of them? They were ripped, stained, threadbare and smelly – now they are front and center on beds and couches and back in the life of a family who cherishes them, and to me that’s worthwhile. I hope you’ll agree and not hate me for quilt desecration!

This red and white star quilt I rescued from an antique store in Jonesborough, TN and only paid $40 for it. So far I’ve turned it into a stuffed rabbit and a pillow, and still have enough for a few more projects. Star quilts are really one of my favorites, and I smile every time I look at this pillow and bunny.

I recovered this flower quilt from an antique store in Hamilton, Montana. Sadly I forgot to snap a picture of it before I started cutting it up, but it was in worse shape than the star quilt. Even so, I couldn’t talk the shop keeper down below $50, but still it was worth it! I was able to make some pillows and a stuffed cat and pig, as well as putting a large piece behind an old window (another antique store find, Rome, Georgia, three windows for $50). You can see some of the tears on the pig’s behind near the tail – by the time I got around to cutting him out it was hard to find enough undamaged sections to not include some rips. But I decided that just added character to my new friend!

These two critters, another cat (in a much more primitive style) and the same rabbit pattern, were made not from an old quilt, but from some dish towels my mother received as a gift back in the early 1960s. She was an Air Force nurse stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany and one of the German nurses gave them to her when she transferred back stateside. The dish towels had been well used, but rather than toss them out, I was able to piece these two little friends together. Since I took the first picture, I found a nose for the rabbit, which if you get a magnifying glass out, you can sort of see in the second picture.

I’ve got two more quilts I’m working on – one of my cousins had some vintage quilts that were in the family, and she wants some pillows made from them. More on that once I get further along with that project. A little sneak preview in the picture of the bed above – the blue flowered pillow directly behind the cat is one made from her quilt. Maybe I’ll be able to make her some stuffed friends as well. As an aside, the postage stamp quilt above is one my grandmother made and I continue to use to this day. The blue headboard is obviously a pallet – another reuse and recycle moment! I got a new table for my sewing machine and it arrived at my local quilt shop, The Stitchery, on this pallet, so I painted it and my husband bolted it to the little bed frame and voile! A new headboard!

As always, happy quilting and thanks for reading!

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