Quilting with Old Blankets

I think it would be a fun idea to make a quilt out of old blankets, but I read somewhere that maybe that’s not the greatest idea. What do you think? Why wouldn’t I want to do this? Or if I did… any idea where I should start?

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Reusing an old blanket for your quilt certainly embraces the “reduce, reuse, recycle” concept and hails back to the early days of quilting, too. Some of the most beloved surviving historic quilts feature pieces snipped from other fabric items like clothing, feed sacks, and home textiles. Reusing an old blanket by using it as the batting for a new quilt was another popular way to really make the most of available materials.

Doing this today continues the innovative spirit of our quilting forbearers – as long as you keep a few caveats in mind:

  • An old wool blanket that still has plenty of warmth to offer but is truly showing its age can be used as batting if you wash it first. Exposing it to hot water in a modern, agitating washer is the best way to be sure that the blanket won’t shrink later.
  • If you use the entire blanket as a batting layer or even use choice pieces as applique or decorative elements and then wash your finished quilt, you could end up with a disaster when the pieces shrink at different rates. By washing the blanket first, you preshrink it and set the color, just like you do with new quilter’s cottons.
  • Any recycled fabrics you incorporate into your work need to be free of damage or pests. If your blanket is wool, it could be harboring moths or larvae – enough to damage your piece later. Again, a wash in hot water can set your mind at ease and eliminate this risk as well.
  • We’d love to know – how have you incorporated vintage linens and blankets into your new quilting projects?

    Happy quilting!
    Samantha

    Related Video: Quilting with Alternative Fabric

    Do you have a quilting question you’d like answered by an expert? Email your question to editor@nationalquilterscircle.com or reach out to us on Facebook.

    Please note: questions may be edited for clarity and relevance.

    Discussion
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    53 Responses to “Quilting with Old Blankets”
    1. Wendy
      Wendy

      I lived in Quebec, Canada. I have several antique small quilts made by the French Canadians, called couverture piers ( feet cover ) made out of quilted top, several old blankets for batting, plain back. Tied to secure the layers. Wonderful.

      Reply
    2. Iris
      Iris

      With regards using old blankets. I have been doing this for the last few years. I don’t like modern battings / wadding. They do not give enough loft for my taste. I live in Wales GB and a wool filling is our tradition. I use second hand blankets I buy on selling sites. As they are not new they have already been laundered . I also put it through the washer. They quilt beautifully and show my quilting designs to perfection. The quilt is light and warm and drapes lovely. I have had no problems at all. Batting is very expensive for a full sized bed, the blankets are relatively cheep to buy. In my quilt group all the ladies have been converted into using blankets for quilts, wall hangings etc. Wool blankets are ideal for baby quilts and safe to use where as polyester batting is not under 1 year old. Do try it, it quilts so lovely by hand or machine.

      Reply
        • KAREN
          KAREN

          The foam in a velux blanket can slow down a needle and cause tension issues. Also the foam deteriorates quickly causing your quilt to have issues…the foam inside is surrounded with a netting…difficult to replace…believe me I know I had a to completely replace a velux blanket batting!

          Reply
    3. Felicia McLemore
      Felicia McLemore

      How to figure out measurements if you want to resize a quilt block from maybe 8 half squares in 15 inches to 6 in a 10 inch space.

      Reply
    4. espera
      espera

      In Australia we have a traditional type of blanket or rug made from old blankets called a “Wagga”. These were popular during the great depression and used by country people to recycle old woollen blankets. Nowadays they are made as art projects and are quite lovely. I suggest that you look on the web for images. This may give you a few more ideas on how to use old blankets

      Reply
      • Karen
        Karen

        I’m interested in the ‘wagga’ blankets but can’t find anything on Google regarding blankets, only the town of Wagga Wagga. Do you have any other information as to where I can find out more please? TIA.

        Reply
    5. Deb E / Oregon
      Deb E / Oregon

      Not only do I use old blankets as batting in my quilts (after a thorough washing, of course!), but I’ve used 1 or 2 layers of flannel, as well (again, after washing, due to the different rate of shrinkage of flannel -vs- cotton). I use the flannel more often in baby quilts, as those will be washed often, dragged about and receive hard wear, and flannel holds up quite well. I’ve also used sheets (washed first!) as a lightweight batting inside a quilt, too, where I wanted a very lightweight quilt. All of these work very well, depending on what the quilt will be used for. When I want a more traditional quilt, I still use cotton batting, and have also used wool batting (and I’ve purchased a silk batting, which I’ll use for a special quilt for me). I feel very lucky to live in a time where we quilters have SO many choices for our quilting projects!

      Reply
    6. Karen
      Karen

      When my children were going off to college in the late 90’s, I made them quilts using large patches of cotton corduroy on top, old blankets in the middle, and flat cotton sheets as backing. They were warm and my children loved the convenience of pulling up one item to straighten up the bed instead of three separate. Over the years they have needed a little patching and/or new binding, but they are still used as cuddle blankets to read or watch tv. My grandsons are still years from college but I have already started making my special quilts for each.

      Reply
    7. Stephanie Roberts
      Stephanie Roberts

      i have a quilt my grandmother made many years ago, she never got the chance to quilt it. do you know about how much it would cost to have it quilted?

      Reply
      • Helen Horvath
        Helen Horvath

        You have probably already finished your grandmother’s quilt (I just read your question today). There are some ladies that still quilt other’s quilt tops. I also quilt at home and some other ladies from our church quilt at home also. Good luck. Helen

        Reply
    8. Andi
      Andi

      I thought I watched a video for a quilt as you go quilt and the quilter used gauze for a very light batting. It was a summer weight baby quilt. I can’t seem to find it again. Was wondering if I should look for gauze or use flannel. The gauze is wider and measurements would work well. Should I use gauze and should I wash it beforehand. Also, there is gauze and double gauze. Which one?

      Reply
      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hello Andi,

        Unfortunately I do not know what video you are referring to. However, if you are wanting the quilt to be lightweight you can absolutely use a lighter weight fabric like gauze. Double gauze is simply two layers of fabric. It is very soft and actually very popular for making blankets.

        Cheers,
        Ashley NQC Video Membership

        We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
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        Reply
    9. Karen
      Karen

      I twice used those velux blankets, DO NOT DO IT…the blanket disintegrated after several years, the foam inside the blanket slows the needle making it very difficult to machine quilt…I repeat do not use a Velux blanket.

      Reply
    10. Melody Cesare
      Melody Cesare

      I made a rag quilt t-shirt blanket for my son. The front and back were the tshirts, and the old blanket was quilted inside. It’s the best blanket I have ever made. It is thick, warm, cozy and loved.

      Reply
    11. Caroline
      Caroline

      I made two wedding quilts from antique table clothes and crocheted doilies of different shapes and sizes. They came out really lovely.I had them professionally quilted after I made to top.

      Reply
    12. Lesley
      Lesley

      Another great batting is bleached mattress padding. This can be purchased in thrift stores and bleached, making great throw and baby blankets. The quilting is very lofty, and shows beautifully. We all have mattress pads that are worn out, stained, etc. Why toss them out? Bleach it, use it!

      Reply
    13. Penny
      Penny

      I was wondering about a polyester fleece blanket being used as batting. I have a few of those and I can’t afford to buy actual batting right now.

      Reply
    14. Ann Springer
      Ann Springer

      Can you use cloth napkins for quilts? I have a drawer full That were my mother’s and grandmothers.

      Reply
      • Beth Holness
        Beth Holness

        Of course you can use them. Just be careful of the fabrics, they maybe a blend of man made fibres and either linen or cotton. One of my favourite ways to buy fabric is cloth serviettes from the thrift shop.Beautiful little squares of fine fabric waiting for a second life.

        Reply
        • Peggy
          Peggy

          I’ve used polyester blankets for bags and table runners and plan to for small quilts. A little stiffer, but works well.

          Reply
    15. Judy
      Judy

      I made a winter blanket out of 2nd hand coats made of wool. I took them apart , washed the wool in hot water and made 5×5 blocks. I used batting for the middle and a flat sheet for theback. It is so warm that you only have to use a sheet with it in the winter. I have made 2 like this and they are wonderful and repurposing old coats.

      Reply
      • Lori
        Lori

        When we were cleaning out my husband’s grandmother’s house we found two wool quilts that had been made from men’s wool suiting. She’d reused his old suits to piece a quilt. Even though they’d been in the empty house for over 10 years they were in good shape, she’d evidently preshrunk the wool because they washed very well. Estate sales in our area have men’s suits for sale costing next to nothing.

        Reply
    16. DENISE
      DENISE

      My husband brought quite a few old grey army blankets into our marriage and I used them to make dressing gowns for each of us, and then cut the remaining ones into squares and crocheted round them. I also crocheted a pile of ‘tartan’ squares and then joined them alternately to the blanket squares, finishing with a crocheted 4″ border . It turned out brilliantly. So…. why not take this and join your blanket squares to all those leftover quilted squares? Crocheting round them, or joining with a heavy cotton lace as sashing would help eliminate problems with any residual shrinking. Wishing I had some more old blankets to try this with.

      Reply
    17. Patricia Hadfield
      Patricia Hadfield

      I love the idea of using old blankets for quilting and reminds me of using them during WW2 to make warm coats.

      Reply
    18. Kate
      Kate

      One of my kids friends brought me a quilt. Her grandmother had made it with her pajamas, scraps, and other clothing that this young lady had worn as a child. The grandma used an old comforter has the batting. And then had tied it. The polyester fibers in this old comforter scrubbed the fabric until it had many holes in it. Luckily we were able to rescue it but the fabric had disintegrated in certain places beyond repair and weakened all the adjacent triangles. It was a time consuming rescue, but she was very pleased with the results. The point is be very careful on what you use. Polyester gets rougher as time gets on and is difficult on everything surrounding it.

      Reply
    19. Esther Edgar
      Esther Edgar

      I have always enjoyed using my sewing machine but just began patchwork some 7 years ago.
      I decided to try a sampler for my own use and used a worn wool blanket which had long passed its sell by date. I used a double size flat sheet for the backing.
      It was a great success and dresses our bed all year. On frosty nights it is used on top of our summer weight duvet. We love it.
      Esther Edgar

      Reply
    20. Carolyn Edwards
      Carolyn Edwards

      I used an old army blanket instead of batting for my husband a camouflage quilt for his hunting camp.

      Reply
    21. Peggy
      Peggy

      My mother made a quilt of old wool skirts that had belonged to my two sisters and myself. The skirts were not preshrunk by washing, prior to making the quilt. For the backing Mom used red flannel to make a soft liner. She used the ‘tacking’ method to quilt (one stitch secured by tying a knot in the thread and leaving excess thread about 1-1/2 inches long). Mom used red yard as the thread. Over the years as the quilt was washed the flannel backing kept its size, however the wool side shrunk. The only way one might fix the shrinkage would be to take the backing and tacking loose and virtually remake the quilt. But, Mom made it and I cherish the quilt. It brings back many wonderful memories and I won’t remake it by tearing up and reassembling, but rather use it on special moments when I need to snuggle with those precious memories.

      Reply
    22. Karen
      Karen

      Do not use the foam in the center type Velux blankets as the foam will slow the machine needle down resulting in missed stitches. Maybe the new no stick needles would work, but in my experience sewing machine quilting will not work on this type of blanket.

      Reply
    23. Penney
      Penney

      I’m looking for guidance on how to draw my own paper piecing pattern from a picture. Can anyone help?

      Reply
    24. Kubis Brown
      Kubis Brown

      My sister gave me an old mattress pad, knowing I sew a lot with the ladies at church. I used it for the batting of a lap quilt for nursing home residents. It seems to have worked well, but is heavier than the double knit I had used before.

      Reply
    25. Rita
      Rita

      Been using old blankets inside my quilts for 50 years. But I learned to quilt from my mother and grandmother. My grandmother and great-grandmother cut their quilt patterns from newspaper and paper bags. I learned to sew using feed sacks. My favorite quilt is one my great grandmother made. It is a crazy quilt with the names of her children embroidered and the date of the quilt is embroidered 1903

      Reply
    26. Jane
      Jane

      Is it possible to use a down blanket as batting. I have an older down blanket that is stained on one side, but the back is good. Can I just add a pieced quilt top to it. If so can it be quilted or would I need to just tie it.

      Reply
      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hello Jane!

        That’s a great question and we’d love to help!

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    27. Cindy
      Cindy

      We received a scrappy handmade quilt as a wedding gift. We used it daily & after 15 years it was showing wear. I sandwiched it between a new quilt top & a sheet as backing. Another 15 years & this one is showing wear. I’m not sure what to do now!

      Reply
    28. Polly
      Polly

      I Love old wool! Blankets r a great idea but that quilt would be heavy and supper warm. I have been collecting every piece of wool I can find at thrift shops BLANKETS, jackets even a mans ful suit!! I will wash it all together & make begin making sweaters about October 1 for my girls for CHRISMAS.

      Reply
    29. Sherill Roediger
      Sherill Roediger

      I’ve been thinking about using an old blanket for batting for a long time, I never heard of it before, but it seems like it would be warmer!

      But…since it’s taken me 35 years to finish my 38 year old sons quilt, I wouldn’t hold my breath! 😁

      Reply
    30. Barbara McIlveen
      Barbara McIlveen

      I am experiencing the feasibility ofmaking a tee shirt quilt using the Quilt As You Go Method. Has anyone ever tried this method for a tee-shirt quilt? It is giviing me some challenge, but not as much as trying to quilt the entire quilt on a home machine.

      Reply
    31. Karen
      Karen

      Wash woolen blankets very gently unless you want them felted. I would try a cold water cycle with Lysol laundry sanitizer in the rinse. Dry on perma press or knit cycle by machine as moths lay eggs on laundry hung out to dry.

      Reply
    32. Terresa
      Terresa

      I have a question. Found an old quilt my husbands grandmother had made, but critters had gotten to it in storage. how can I salvage it and use the top part in another quilt I plan to make?

      Reply
      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hello Terresa!

        We’d love to help with your husband’s grandmother’s quilt!

        The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

        Please follow the steps below to receive the annual membership at the introductory rate:

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    33. Eleanor Zwicker
      Eleanor Zwicker

      I did that when my children were small, 40 years +, and the quilts are still going strong!

      Reply
    34. Carol
      Carol

      My daughters each have at least one comforter my mother in law made them using nylon velour (I think). It has fuzz on top but a nylon back. Anyway the flannel back is in shreds as is the batting. I am taking the top and adding a blanket as the batting and adding a new flannel back. Their grandmother has been gone for 20 years and this way they still have the comforter top but with new batting and back. I know that the blankets will not shred as the batting did. If need be I can add a new flannel back years down the road.

      Reply
    35. shirley
      shirley

      Old blankets/quilts can be used like a duvet.with the new quilt and backing being the cover.

      Reply
    36. Jeanette L Kelley
      Jeanette L Kelley

      I have quilts made by my grandmother that had old quilts as batting. She also used old clothing, mom would remember items that had pieces of her clothing in them.

      Reply
    37. jean
      jean

      I used a cotton crib blanket as batting for a lap quilt. Then I tied it. It is still going strong, just needs a new top.

      Reply
    38. Mika
      Mika

      Absolutely!!!! Repurpose, recycle. I have used my old military blanket, an old zarape, moving blankets, you name it. All turned out really nice. These “foundations” had been well used and laundered. I trimmed any frayed edges and squared the piece up before applying the quilt pieces to cover

      Reply