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?

Submitted via email

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!

    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.

    • (will not be published)

    13 Responses to “Quilting with Old Blankets”
    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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

      • 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.

    5. 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!

    6. 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.

    7. 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?

    8. 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?

      • 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.

        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.

    9. 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.