Recently, a local quilter contacted me with a dilemma. She had a family heirloom quilt in terrible shape, but her son really wanted it. She wanted to know if there was any way to save it. When she brought it over, I thought there was something that could be done, after all the backing and the background was in good shape. It was just certain fabrics that hadn’t stood the test of time. I told her that the most durable repair would take a very long time. She would need to cut new diamond shapes and applique them over the pieces that were worn away. It would also be a challenge to find a compatible print. As she stood looking at the quilt, and the enormity of the task began to sink in, I offered her one other solution. I could cover it with tulle which wouldn’t show at a distance of a few feet, and as long as the quilt was only displayed and not used, would help to preserve it for longer. She took that option, and hired me to do that repair.
You can see from the close view, that the fabric is just gone, and some of the batting underneath has worn away as well.
That same fabric is deteriorating all over. I really don’t know why this particular one is disintegrating while the others are OK. Perhaps the fiber quality wasn’t the same as the rest.
I loaded the quilt onto my longarm, and overlaid it with tulle in an ecru color that wouldn’t show much.
It creates a cover for the areas that are worn away.
I pinned large pieces that would cover the entire star section over each one.
Beginning in the middle of the stars, I quilted on the seam lines all the way around the inner star, and working my way outward by rows to the edge of the star.
Then I cut away the excess tulle, leaving about 1/8-inch excess all the way around as a seam allowance.
By using one piece, and doing the entire star, both worn areas and not worn areas, the repair isn’t as noticeable, unless you run your hands over the top of the star or look really close.
I started with the largest one in the center, then did the smaller stars around the edge.
All finished, from a distance, the white areas almost look like fabric.
The smaller stars are all protected from further deterioration.
A couple of the stars were in better shape, but I still did the entire star for consistency.
One more small star, same tulle over the top.
So, all done. She came by with her son who was greatly pleased that he would be able to have this on a bed again.
I did tell them not to sit on it anymore, or use it like they may have before. The tulle isn’t very strong, but would hopefully make it possible for the family to enjoy the quilt longer. I love working on quilts that are well-loved. It is so much better to love it to pieces rather than hide it away in a drawer wrapped in tissue paper. Don’t you agree?
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19 thoughts on “Repairing a Quilt with Tulle”
What a beautiful quilt to preserve. That is a great solution.
that turned out great, I would want to display it too.
Have you not gotten your mail yet? I went and checked and they said it should have gotten there by last Sat and Monday at the latest.
If not I will cancel the check and send one face book.
I have a similar problem with a quilt my grandmother made for me about 60 years ago…just one fabric has sort of dissolved. Nice fix, Carole!
Excellent article, thank you. I have two very old family quilts (60+years) that are slowly disintegrating. Tulle may be the answer, especially for one whose back is nearly gone.
Great repair. I have added to the display life of a number of quilts this way, hand-appliquéing bridal illusion over the damaged parts.
I have two quilts made by my great grandmother, one of which has serious deterioration (my mother used it as a tablecloth and it was machine washed many times)! I believe the ‘rotted away’ fabrics, often yellows, coming from a certain time period were created with a dye mordant containing iron, so they have basically rusted away.
Meant to post a while back and compliment you on the quilt with the Asian fabric – I have showed the post to several friends looking for ways tomusemthose beautiful large scale prints.
Great fix for that beautiful quilt; I’m sure the recipients were thrilled that you were able to save this heirloom!
Hello Carole; I would never have thought to use Tulle. Yet, you did such a wonderful quilting job in applying it that it does look beautiful. My Mother has a very old quilt that she keeps in a closet and no one ever gets to see it, I have never understood her thoughts but have also never been able to change her mind and start displaying it. I should bring it up once again. Well, I am off to check a few more emails and then sew a bunch of Nine Patches for the remainder of the day! Hopefully, I will get started on Step 3. I hope that you have a fabulous day!!
What a great save! I will keep that in mind for future reference, hoping I won’t need it!
I totally agree… better to keep using a well loved quilt!
Great idea to prolong life!
I’ve done this type of repair with a quilt my grandmother made my mother way back in the 40’s. People don’t even realize the tulle is there. I showed my SIL and she repaired an old quilt of hers too.
Well done on a wonderful save, I hadn’t seen that done before. It is wonderful the family can still enjoy the quilt.
Love it to pieces! Had to laugh at that!
beautiful way to repair it
I have never seen this way of preserving quilts, but it is really a great idea to protect the quilt longer.
Beautiful quilt and what a great idea to save it!
Carole, this is such a wonderful idea! I’m going to have to give it a try! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm–pinned!
My daughter’s quilt rotted in the sun. I’m considering encasing it with a new top. The batting in center of the quilt that was affected the most is also rotted. I’ve removed the rotten batting. Do I replace batting where it’s missing before putting on the new top, or is it best to just cover it and not worry about the batting? If the back is still intact, but a little worn, is it best to put on a new back also?
Could you tell me exacty what kind of tulle you used? I need to repair a quilt. I looked online and there are so many kinds of tulle.
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