Can I Mix Old and New Fabrics?

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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!


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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21 Responses to “Can I Mix Old and New Fabrics?”

  1. Audrey

    I’m Canadian. Am I able to join?

  2. Cynthia

    I inherited quilts blocks that were already quilted from my grandma. I found remnants of some of the fabric she used and sashes the blocks together and added a border. To make it fit a queen bed I found some Muslim to match what she used and added a final border. I copied the quilt design and used it to quilt the borders. I gave it my mom as a gift. It turned out well. I was able to make a quilt ‘with’ my grandma even though she had passed.

  3. Judith D Falconer

    I inherited a feed sack quilt top from my grandmother - scraps left over from playclothes she made for my mom and uncle - it's queen bed size. I had to repair a couple of the hex pieces, I put fusible bond on the back and ironed it on. Then I needed to repair a few seams - some were handstitched and others machine stitched once she got a sewing machine. Then I put on the batting and the backing fabric from a new material but one that had a similar design to the feed sacks. I quilted it with machine embroidery. I bound it with bias tape, but I only squared up the top edge, and followed the hexagons for the sides and bottom. It looks fantastic, and I'm sure my grandmother would have been pleased that it finally got some use.

  4. Rosemarie

    doesn't "stitching in the ditch" technically weaken the seam stitches already laid down ?- it punctures through that thread .

  5. Marjbradley

    I have a 1930? Quilt that was my late husbands grandmothers which needed repair. I was able to find modern fabrics that closely resembled the old ones and did repair the frayed pieces

  6. Tomi Jo Hamlin

    Your answer is good, but if it ever needs to be dated, the dating will be based on the newest fabric.

  7. 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!

  8. sally zickert

    not at this time

  9. 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?

  10. 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.