We’ve all seen it before–tears in the top of a quilt that has seen a few washings or wasn’t correctly pieced. It can be annoying, or even scary for the new quilter or for the old pro using old thread. But there are some ways to prevent quilt tearing, and once a quilt has torn, there are easy ways to repair it.
Preventing tearing is the best way to make sure you won’t have to repair dramatic damage to a quilt top. Make sure you choose a quality quilting fabric and always make sure that the fabrics you choose for your quilt top are of equal strength and durability. You don’t want certain patches going south before the rest. Good batting is also important as it can help you ensure that your tears won’t come from the inside. Your stitches should be even and not too tight, and stitching should always be done with a good quality thread. Do not use thread that is too old, weak, or rotted. Your seam allowance should be at least ¼-½ inch, and you should always iron down your seams to prevent rubbing and chafing against the quilt pieces once the quilt is assembled. And always wash your quilts as rarely as possible on the gentlest cycle with a mild detergent.
Even with these good tips and practices in place, sometimes things can go wrong. You will occasionally have to repair a torn or worn area on your quilt. The best way to do this is with a plain old needle and thread. Always make sure to repair your quilts as soon as you notice and issue, before it gets out of hand and ruins your quilt even more. Use a matching thread to make your repairs invisible, or even make the repairs part of the design by using hand embroidery or applique to make your repairs gorgeous.
You may occasionally have to go in with a patch on a quilt that has really been loved (or abused, as the case may be). However, thanks to the nature of quilts, this is no big deal and can even add to the effect of a folksy or rustic quilt design. Choose a patch of the same material as the area to be repaired, or in a contrasting design that will add to the appeal of the quilt over time.
Dismantling the Quilt to Repair
Unfortunately, sometimes a quilt is just beyond repair, and you may have to dismantle it in efforts to save it. This is the hardest and most time-consuming kind of repair, and you may decide that it’s not worth it, but if you love a quilt enough, then it will be. Make sure to remove all stitches of the affected area carefully, replace the ripped pieces, then resume as you normally would with any other quilt in progress.
While quilt repairs can seem daunting, particularly to the newbie quilter, a little pro-activity can save you a lot of trouble down the line. Using these tips and techniques, you should be able to save your quilt for years down the line.