What to do with old quilts? 9 ways to repurpose and reuse

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Has your quilt or doona seen better days? Has it just been collecting dust, hidden away in a closet for several years? It might be time to reconsider what you do with that quilt.

According to the Australian Government, Australia is the second highest consumer of textiles per person in the world, just behind the United States of America. Each Australian disposes of 23 kg of clothing waste each year.

There are tons of ways you could reuse your old quilts. We’ve looked through the internet and picked some of the most creative ways you could meaningfully repurpose or reuse your old quilts and doonas.

Ways to Repurpose Old Quilts

1) Stuffed Shape Pillows

If you’re handy with a needle and thread you can cut down your quilts into bunnies, teddy bears, and even hearts. We even found someone who turned a doona square into a stuffed pear. All you’ll need is your old quilt, scissors, thread, and some pillow stuffing

If you need some help along the way you can follow instructions for a giant stuffed pear here.

This link doesn’t have instructions but it could be a good starting point to figure out what pillow shape you want to repurpose your old doona into. There are so many ideas you could come up with, just pick your favourite and run with it.

Source: https://www.madejustforu.com/personalized-gifts/category/pillow+in+cat+shape

2) Accent Pillows

Since quilts and doonas typically have a square shape to them already, it makes sense that you can turn them into accent pillows pretty easily. One person on Pinterest made a throw pillow and took some of the quilt and added it to the bench of a porch swing. Here’s another example from Etsy on how a repurposed quilt pillow could look. 

Just like the stuffed animals, you’ll need to be good with a sewing machine, or a needle and thread for this project. If you’re a beginner there are some good YouTube videos out there that take you step by step on making a quilted pillow, including one from this creator.

Source: http://cherishedtreasures-terry.blogspot.com/2011/07/recycling-tattered-quilt-part-2.html

3) Christmas Stockings

A great way to reuse and repurpose old quilts is by turning them into Christmas stockings for the whole family. You don’t necessarily even need a Christmas themed doona to make this project work either. Any quilt that has a significant meaning to your family will do. 

This blogger made a step by step guide to making your own Christmas stocking from an old quilt. They recommend having each family member pick a part of the quilt they love beforehand so that it’s even more special. If you need more visual instructions you can also look at this YouTube tutorial, that also includes a free pattern. Once you’re done with this project your Christmas stockings will be a wonderful centrepiece for your celebrations for years to come.

Source: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1199294599/primitive-vintage-antique-repurposed-red

4) Make a Dog Bed

Old quilts make great dog beds! All you need to do is measure your dog and cut the quilt to size. You can do an oval shape or a rectangle. Then, just sew the quilt together and stuff it with batting or any old pillow. Your dog will love snuggling up in a cozy bed made just for them and you’ll love repurposing an old quilt. 

Here’s an easy Youtube tutorial showing you how to make a dog bed from a comforter but the concept remains the same.

5) Repairing Any Damage

It’s understandable if you don’t want to cut into a quilt or a doona that you got from your mum or your grannie. But if it’s seen better days there are ways to save it and make it look almost as good as new. You’ll need to find fabric that matches the damaged square or squares. And if you can’t find fabric that matches exactly that’s okay! You can make the best of it no matter what you decide to do. 

This blogger goes through multiple fixes a quilt might need, including repairing a seam, fixing a small hole, and fixing a big hole. Just make sure you have your fabric, needle, and thread ready to go and you can get started on making your doona look good as new.

6) Framing it

Another option if you’re willing to cut your old quilt up, is putting some pieces into frames. You can also put one big piece into a window frame and hang that up somewhere in your home. This would be a great way to repurpose a family heirloom quilt that’s seen better days.

Depending on your budget and what works best for your home, buy some frames or a window frame that you like, pick out a quilt you want to use, and get cutting! Just make sure to measure everything out first so you don’t have too little of quilt fabric.

You could even glue or staple quilt squares to canvas for a different effect. Again do what works best for you and your home. But by the end of it you should have some great pieces to hang on your walls or even be the making of a gallery wall. The possibilities are endless!

7) Make a Tote Bag

Old quilts make great reusable shopping bags. Just sew the quilt together at the sides and bottom, leaving the top open. You can add handles or a strap to make it easier to carry. It’s a great way to reduce your use of plastic bags and repurpose an old quilt at the same time.

8) Ornaments

Whether you want some for a Christmas tree, or just to hang up somewhere you can see it everyday, an ornament is a great way to repurpose an old quilt or doona. There are endless shapes you can make them into, and you could probably make a whole Christmas tree of quilt ornaments from one blanket if you want to. Or you could give them to family members so they have a piece of family history with them wherever they go. You could also make a string of ornaments to hang up during the holidays. If you have a big enough quilt or enough doonas you could make as many ornaments as you like. 

This tutorial doesn’t repurpose an old quilt but it gives you an idea of how to make an ornament with fabric.

9) Baby and Adult Clothes

This might be the cutest way to repurpose your quilts that are collecting dust! Many of the options look like you can use the quilt material for jackets or sweaters. Depending on the quilt you might be able to make a matching set for the baby’s parents or siblings. How adorable would that be?! Just buy some clothing patterns that match what you’re trying to do and soon you’ll have unique matching outfits. 

10) Coasters

Just like the ornaments you could probably make an endless amount of coasters from an old quilt you’re not using anymore. Several YouTube videos refer to this as an easy sewing project, so it could be a good place to start if you’re a beginner. The best part is you don’t have to just do squares, you could also do different shapes for the coasters if you want. This video shows you the different shapes you can sew from your quilts and doonas. You can find the patterns in the video description if you like. Happy sewing!

11) Quilted pot holders or oven mitts

Another easy way to repurpose an old quilt is to make pot holders or oven mitts. Just cut out a square or rectangle, sew the edges and add a loop of fabric to hang them up. You can even make a coordinating set to spruce up your kitchen!

12) Giving It to a Family Member

This last option doesn’t involve sewing at all. Some of the less crafty people are probably breathing a sigh of relief!

If you feel a quilt is just collecting dust in a closet or box in your home, find a family member who might appreciate having it. Maybe they’ll get more use out of it and will appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture. That way you save yourself from the guilt of pushing off a project you say you’re going to do, and the doona finds a new purpose in another home. This also saves you from donating it to someone outside of your family who might not appreciate the history behind it.

Closing thoughts

Like we said in the beginning of this article, there are so many ways you can repurpose and reuse your old quilts. Should you need to replace a quilt, you could always shop for a new one as part of a new quilt project. If you don’t have an emotional attachment to an old doona, you could always donate it to a charity that needs warm blankets. The last thing you should do is throw it away because someone could always find a use for it. 

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Emma Bethany

Emma Bethany

Emma is a wellness writer who has shared her knowledge for over three years. Her Masters in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes means Emma approaches each topic with compassion and gentle curiosity. She wants everyone to be as passionate about taking care of their body as she is. That’s why Emma believes investing in your sleep is an investment in yourself. She wants to create a loving space to learn self-care and build a beautiful bedtime routine to soothe the soul. She loves to discover new ways to enhance sleep and embraces a holistic lifestyle. She enjoys settling down in the evening with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea.

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