Making Quilts With Old Clothes (Frugal Quilting)

Making Quilts With Old Clothes is one of the best ways to recycle the fabric from clothing you don’t use anymore.

When you love to make quilts, you will find yourself looking to everybody’s clothing, and you can’t stop thinking about that dress or that blouse are made with a pretty fabric, and it will look great on a quilt.

Quilts are mostly made with cotton fabrics designed and made for quilting, but when making quilts is your hobby or your career, you might be wondering if you can use different fabrics to make your quilts.

The answer is yes, you can use any type of material to make your quilts, and this will take you to discover the world of recycling materials to make not one but many of your quilts.

As you start working with recycled materials on your quilts, each one can become a way to remember the people who used them, your children when they were little, or members of our family who are not anymore among us.

On this article, we will share some tips to learn what materials you can recycle to make your quilts!

Making Quilts With Old Clothes

What Recycled Materials Are Best For Making Quilts?

When thinking about working with recycled materials for your new quilt, there are many options, but when you work with natural fibers, it will help you to work on your project with ease and get better results.

Cotton – This fiber is the most used for quilters around the world, you can find solid cotton fabrics on many different garments, as well as fabrics with pretty designs, look for blouses, dresses, pants and some other smaller items made with this type of fabric like scarves, tote bags and kitchen towels.

Wool – Not many quilters would think about making a quilt with this type of fiber, but it will add different texture and color palette to any quilt. When thinking about using wool fabrics for your next quilt, look for jackets, pants, scarves, hats. When thinking about using garments made with this fiber knitted, they might not be the best for making a quilt, so avoid sweaters, and knitted scarves and hats.

Linen – This fiber makes light fabrics and you can find them in solid and pretty designs as well, working with it will add texture and color palette to any quilt.

Silk – These materials will add to your new quilt a different texture and bright color palette, you can find these materials on blouses, dresses, scarves and ties.

Thin Denim – I will add on this post, thin denim as it is easy to work on it on the piecing and the quilting by hand or with your sewing machine, and it can be found on many different pieces of clothing like blouses, shirts, dresses, tote bags. Just pre-wash these items as many times as you need to avoid any bleeding after the quilt is made.

How Big The Recycled Material Should Be To Make A Quilt

Any size will be good, when you get a big size material, it can be used to make the background of an art quilt, or it can be cut into good size pieces to make patchwork blocks with it.

When you get small scraps of fabrics, they can be used to make small pieces patchwork blocks or they can be used to make some applique on your quilts.

Pre-Wash All Your Material

When working on a project with recycled material, the first step to work on is to pre-wash all your material, whether they are silk, cotton, linen or wool, using cold water, mild soap and put all the material in the dryer.

When your material is washed and dry, it’s always better to press it, so you can see how each material behaves and it will help you to decide on what Quilting pattern to use it.

Organize Recycled Materials For Your Quilts

Whether you work only with recycled materials or with fabrics made for quilts, it’s always better to get the organized by size and by color.

Keeping your stache always well organized will help you to pick the material you need for your next project in a few minutes.

What Quilting Patterns Are Best To Make Quilts With Recycled Materials?

At the time to think about what would be the best pattern for your new quilt, you can go freely to choose any pattern you like, working with recycled materials is no different than working for cotton fabrics for quilting.

I must add on this point, that when working with denim, you need to work with patterns big enough to help you to work with ease as seams will be thicker than usual, but when working with recycled materials mentioned above, you can work with any pattern and make a nice quilt with them.

What To Do When A Material Is Slippery?

When working with materials like silk, you might face the problem they will be slippery and keeping the shape of each piece might be a challenge.

On this case, the best way to work with slippery fabrics is to work with a backing on each piece made of a thin cotton fabric, it will add to each piece the support it needs to keep its shape and it will help these pieces to last longer with the use of the quilt.

When working on each piece with a fabric to give support to a slippery piece, you can pin both fabrics together or make a few long basting stitches on both pieces, these stitches can be removed when the piecing is done.

How To Press Quilt Blocks Made With Recycled Materials?

Pressing is one basic step to get each quilt block well done when making any quilt.

You will need to press each step when making a quilt block with recycled materials, the best tip here is always press both seams together to the shady side.

As a quilter, you will be making decisions when pressing your pieces, a good pressed seam will set up better and it will help you to get better results always.

How To Work With Fabrics That Fray?

Wool, silk and linen are fabrics that often fray, when working on big pieces, you might want to run an overlock stitch on the edges.

When working on small pieces, the best way to avoid too much fraying on these materials is to work with a stabilizer or interfacing on the wrong side, like —-, as this is a thin material that will help you to work better with these textiles and it doesn’t cost much.

How To Start Making Your Quilt With Recycled Materials?

I will always recommend making a test on a small project before starting to work on a regular size quilt.

Making a quilted pillow or a mini quilt using the materials you have in mind to use on your next project, will help you to know how easy or not it is to work with these materials.

As you work on the different steps of making a quilt, piecing, quilting and biding, you will know exactly what to expect on working with the same materials, but on a regular size quilt.

Also, when working on a small project as a test, wash and dry it, so you can see the whole results from your work.

If you’re happy working with these materials, and you’re also happy to see how it looks like after washing it, than it’s time to start working on your big project to make a regular size quilt!

What Recycled Materials You Should Avoid?

When looking for a piece of clothing to use the fabric to make a quilt with it, avoid any piece of clothing that looks to ware out, as the fibers on this fabric won’t last long on your quilt.

When looking for old pieces of clothing to use their fabric to make a new project, always look for clothing that was used just a few times and the textile looks in good shape.

Where To Find Recycled Materials For Your Quilts?

When thinking about using recycled materials on your quilts, the first place to look at will be your own closet, you might have a few pieces of clothing you don’t use anymore and you have kept them because the fabric they are made of, it’s too pretty to give that piece of clothing away.

The next place to look for pretty recycled materials is in your children’s closet, kids grow up so fast and they will have many pieces of clothing they don’t use anymore and most of them are made with pretty fabrics.

Then you can ask your parents, grandparents and other family members, in case they have a few pieces of clothing they don’t use anymore, you can also ask your friends too.

Thrift stores are the best place to find old, vintage and new pieces of clothing people don’t want to use anymore, and they are always an affordable price.

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Making Quilts With Old Clothes


6 thoughts on “Making Quilts With Old Clothes (Frugal Quilting)”

  1. Lovely article, making quilt from your memories! There is no way you can keep all the lovely clothes from your life but if you make a quilt of them, they will stay with you for a long time, comforting you.

    Thank you for the article, it is very helpful for starters and more experienced people alike. You give instruction, inspiration and experience, I can’t wait to get started. I am anticipating emotional meditation with making my quilt.



  2. I’m glad I came across this post. I’ve been thinking about making a quilt out of some of the concert and college t-shirts I’ve collected over the years, since I really don’t wear most of them but still want to keep the memories. I know you mentioned avoiding using well worn clothes, but is there a way to “support” them so that they can be used? Maybe adding a more sturdy fabric to the back of the shirt piece before putting it on the quilt?

    • Hi Jessi,

      Yes, if one piece of clothing means a lot to you, because it has good memories or it brings memories of someone who is or was close to you, you can use a support to add that fabric to your quilt.

      What I noticed on a quilt I did with some old cloths, some were not strong enough to stay in good shape as we used that quilt, and soon these pieces of fabric started to get in bad conditions and I had to patch those fabrics with new pieces of fabric.

      Thanks for keep visiting our blog!

  3. Hi Alex. Thank you for very interesting article. To be fair I always had problem with old clothes. I wouldn’t like to throw them away and there are not always in good enough condition to give them to someone else. But your idea is absolutely brilliant. And detailed description will make work much easier. Looking forward to test your advices in practice, especially that patchwork quilts looks really nice.

  4. These are brilliant article. I think that the more of these type of articles online then the better it is for everyone. When I was a child, my mother made us clothes all the time using other clothes or bed linen and the like. Its actually amazing what you can make out of stuff like this if you put your mind to it.

  5. My grandmother makes quilts out of her scrap fabric from other sewing projects and quilting projects. She does it just to get rid of the fabric, but the quilts always end up looking really unique and beautiful. She apologetically gives them to us grandkids, saying that if we don’t take them she will just give them away to a second hand-store- but they never make it that far! They are always gobbled right up by all of us grandkids. 

    Making quilts out of old clothes and scrap materials of all kinds is definitely a fun way to go! 

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