Can I Mix Old and New Fabrics?

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NQC Question

I have inherited some hand piecing work from my mom. They were probably pieced during the 1920s or 30s. I’m thinking of making borders from new fabric (with an older, heirloom look), but I am a little concerned about incorporating old and new because of strength, durability, etc. What do you think?



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NQC Answer

What a great treasure to inherit! Depending on what condition the fabrics are in now, they should be okay to sew together with newer fabric. Adding the newer fabrics as borders may also help add stability to the older pieces.

As far as durability goes, I probably wouldn’t use the older fabrics on anything other than a wall hanging though, as repeated use may just break down the fabric. We’d love to see what you come up with – please share a photo when you have them ready!

Ashley

Related links:

Quilt Care Part 1: Cleaning Heirloom Quilts
How to Make a Quilt Border: Cutting and Measuring
Guidelines for Creating Great Quilt Borders

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Discussion
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29 Responses to “Can I Mix Old and New Fabrics?”
  1. Betty

    My experience is that many of the newer quilt fabrics are from China and shrink more than they did two decades or more ago. That would also be a concern of mine and not just the strength of the fabric. Because of things like this I preshrink my fabrics unless I am using precuts like jellyrolls or charm packs. They I don’t like to preshrink anything. For me it varies as to what I feel I must do to still get a great finished product.

    Reply
  2. Jean

    I have inherited a hexagon quilt top from my mother that was probably hand pieced together in the1940 and 1950s. She did not finish it. I also have some hexagons already cut by her found in a box. I am trying to finish the top. I need the best way to finish this with a binding. I am returning to quilting after being absent for 25 years! I would like to finish this before winter for my older sister’s birthday. Thanks for any suggestions. Jean

    Reply
  3. Ellie

    I found a quilt top that my grandma started before I was born. I arrived 6 weeks early so it was never finished. I found it in a box an she told me this story so I put it up. The quilt top was quite finished so I finished it an quilted it when I was 45 years old.

    Reply
  4. Sandra Morris

    HELP I have wanted to sew a quilt for many years. I went out and purchased a new machine and I need a simple one to start. I was thinking a scrap quilt but I really need basics and do not know where to start. By the way I suffered a fall 4 years agao and I am legally blind. I need a easy one to start and do not k me to start. PLEASE HELP ME GO FROM HERE THANK YOU SO MUCHnow how to start. what kind would be best for

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Sandra. A scrap quilt is definitely a great place to start, and you don’t even necessarily need a pattern for that. Some people construct scrap quilts by randomly sewing together strips of fabric and then cutting that down to a preferred size- like a 6 1/2″ block, and then sewing the blocks together. Another easy pattern that you can start with is a 4 or 9 patch. They doesn’t require large pieces of fabric and are fairly easy to construct. Here is a great video to get you started:
      https://www.nationalquilterscircle.com/video/simple-designs-with-nine-patches-003702/
      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Lottie (mom) Smith

        Fabric stores have some scrap leftover, when u buy material, I would wash them or any blouses or dress that u don’t wear anymore, cut some pieces u need but be sure the kind of material to match old fabrics. Be sure to iron pieces & also iron every pieces after you sew. It is better to take a class or someone you knew can do seeing, might help you to learn

        Reply
    • Lottie (mom) Smith

      It would be better to make plate mates to start with then table runner will help to do quilting afterwards & look up newspaper ads to go take classes, it helps me a lot.

      Reply
    • Diana Ingersoll

      Try one with colorful block’s made into four patch blocks. See two strips together (2 1/2″ ) and cut in 21/2″ and join together . Make several in different colors.

      Reply
  5. Sandra Morris

    HELP I have wanted to sew a quilt for many years. I went out and purchased a new machine and I need a simple one to start. I was thinking a scrap quilt but I really need basics and do not know where to start.

    Reply
      • Lottie (mom) Smith

        If u can’t find your old lady neighbor or nursing homes will do quilting in class or their home, or go on google under quilting classes! Or yahoo. I find a lot under either with videos.

        Reply
    • Lottie (mom) Smith

      Start to do place mate or table runner & go to a place that have classes to learn the basic of quilting.

      Reply
  6. Doris CASEY

    do I have to have a working Printer to take the classes , mine is not working , at the time ,I have to wait for my Grandaughter to visit me to get it going again

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Doris. No, a printer is not required. The material is all accessible online. If you have any further questions, please contact us at 1-855-706-3538.

      Reply
  7. Marie Roberts

    Wanted to ask about laundering jelly roll fabric, I emailed a major supplier and they said not to wash strips, they would disintegrate., well next emai went unanswered when I asked how do you control uneven shrinkage in finished work that needs washing( ie/ table runners, place mats, quilts, etc). What I did do is wash a few strips 10-15 at a time inside lingerie zip bag and then air dry, so far so good.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Marie,

      Using a lingerie or other laundry bag for washing pre cut fabrics is a great idea and what I would have suggested as well!

      Cheers,

      Ashley
      National Quilters Circle Video Membership

      Reply
    • Lottie (mom) Smith

      I would not wash jelly rolls, it depends the kind of material safe to wash but if not wash them before sewing, that is ok, after you finish sew the quilt, I prefer to take to dry cleaner to do the job without any chemical. I read somewhere recommended not to wash quilts, take to dry clean or set out in sun on clothes line all morning with full sun & turn over sides after 2nd hour of sun. That I remember my aunts & grandmother do that for years & they did wash that time was by hands in tubs.

      Reply
  8. lyndastewart

    I have some old hand Embroidered napkins, tablecloths, and scarves I would like to make into a memory quilt. I am thinking it would be best to use pellon sf101 fused to back for support and then border with jelly roll fabric. Any suggestions or tips? I’m relatively new to sewing. Thanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello,

      Using a stabilizer of the fabrics is a great idea! I would also recommend that everything, including the jelly roll fabric, is pre washed prior to using it. This way nothing should shrink more or less than another area-causing ripples or puckers.

      Cheers,

      Ashley
      National Quilters Circle Video Membership

      Reply
    • Lottie (mom) Smith

      If u have fabric stores like JoAnn or any fabric stores go find if they have classes to take for quilting. I am sure there is a place e to take classes for beginners.

      Reply
  9. DEEDE

    I have restored two heirloom quilts and now have 4 more in various stages of work. I have found that the worn blocks can be stabilized with Heat and Bond. The sashing and borders were not at all useable so am having to replace those parts. I am planning to use fabric as near the original as possibel. One could also use reproduction fabrics to replace parts of blocks. The quilts themselves were backed with some sort of gauzy fabric that is now rotten. The batting is uncarded sheep’s wool, and I also replaced that with a modern batt. The original were tied with unspun sheep’s wool that was hooked through the fabric with a small crochet hook. I am guessing that the quilts were made in the late 1800’s- early 1900’s. I am keeping careful records and photos of each step.

    Reply
  10. Joyce A Ward

    I inherited some Dresden plate pieces. They were hand pieces about 1936. They appear to be feed sacks fabrics, which weren’t the best quality but still solid. I appliqued them to unbleached muslin and put them together. I’ve never used them as a quilt but only as a wall hanging, which is what I would recommend.

    Reply
  11. Jackie VanDaff

    I used embroidered blocks made by my grandmother in wall hangings for my new grandsons. I bordered each square square and used dashing strips to assemble the rows. The borders and sashing fabrics were modern fabrics. My quilter used a crosshatch patterned, which made it stronger, to quilt the piece. I love the way it turned out.

    Reply
    • GLENDA

      I also received a quilt top of my husband’s grandmother it has Sue bonnet girls Sewn on the feed sack material. It looks very plain so I’m trying to appliqué or add some kind of material to the top I never cut it into it was all one piece if anyone has any ideas let me know I’ve never done an appliqué but I’m gonna try thanks

      Reply
  12. pattie

    wont that devalue the older blocks? i have a quilt top from my grandmother that i am afraid to complete, thinking i may do more harm than good my finishing it?

    Reply
  13. Jean Rabe

    I am making a baby quilt for my great grandson. However, my embroidery machine had a hiccup, and I need to know whether there is a better way to remove these stitches than a stitch ripper. They are so tight that I am having difficulty getting the ripper underneath them to rip out. I will choose another design and hope for the best! Need to get it done before he is college-bound!

    Reply