If you have a quilt you’re no longer in love with (or one you never really fell in love with!), consider a repurposing project. Maybe it’s a UFO that’s been sitting for year, complete except for a binding or other finishing steps. While it might be unthinkable to some, cutting up a finished or nearly finished project to allow it to become something else offers a creative release like no other. And it’s possible that the UFO remained a UFO because the originally intended project wasn’t the right one. So give it a second chance with a little imagination… and a little brave cutting.
This is a quilt I made in 2008:
It’s done its tour of duty in quilt show booths and trunk shows, but gradually, I became bored with it. I loved the individual strips of Ghanaian jacquard batiks, but all together, they no longer excited me. So I decided it was time for a repurpose, and I cut into the quilt to make new projects from it.
I started by removing the beaded tassels along the bottom edge (they’ll find new homes later), then I cut the blue section into triangles that resulted in a block approximately 16” square, good for a pillow or tote bag front:
Then a few more projects revealed themselves. Note that the coin purse and handbag are pre-lined with the quilt backing (pre-lined projects are one of my favorite benefits of a quilt repurpose.) Next, I cut a multi-colored section of the quilt, bordering it in a plush chenille upholstery fabric, adding tabs to make a wall hanging.
I designed the handbag during a sewing retreat…it’s my favorite piece of the bunch! This bag alone gives me much more satisfaction than the original quilt had in recent years – throw in the coin purse, wall hanging, and whatever the blue block will eventually become, and I’d say this experiment was a success!
Tips for Repurposing Your Quilt:
- Play before you cut. Fold sections of the quilt over a pillow form to imagine it as a throw pillow, hold handbag handles up to various sections, and pull out a few coordinating fabrics to spark ideas for new projects to “try out” different ideas.
- Think small: Imagine how many mugrugs, eyeglass cases, tablet sleeves, placemats, pincushions, wall accents, cosmetic cases, miscellaneous zippered pouches and other small projects you can get from a quilt! Try this strategy for holiday gift giving.
- Think strategically: Can repeating blocks be used to create a set of items? Maybe coasters, placemats, gifts for quilt guild buddies, etc. Multiple items can also be stitched up and given to a hospital, school or nursing home. An interesting border can be cut away separately and used on a different quilt, as a tote bag accent, etc.
- Be realistic: You don’t have to use up every inch of the old quilt, but if your repurposing results in even ONE project you love more than the original quilt, you’ve already come out ahead.
If you’ve been inspired to “Cut the Quilt”, send your Before & After photos to lisa@CulturedExpressions.com. Enjoy the process!