Quilting With Old Clothes

Artists are using old clothing items for quilts, blankets, and other upcycled items:

Old Clothes Quilting By Luke Haynes

luke haynes quilt

American Gothic
Made from Old Clothes
old clothes quilt

Close up of above
Made from old clothes…
old clothes quilt

Old Clothes Quilt
old-clothes-flag-detailDetail of an Old Clothes Flag – The man can quilt!
quilting on sacks

Luke Haynes also quilts on coffee sacks…
Luke says he has been influenced by Gee’s Bend Quilters.

Gee’s Bend Quilters

Gee’s Bend is a small rural community southwest of Selma, Alabama. The community was formally the site of cotton plantations, primarily in the hands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850. After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world.

The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American and African-American quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present. www.quiltsofgeesbend.com

gees bend quilt
Gee’s Bend Quilt

recycled quilt
Gee’s Bend Corduroy Quilt

gees bend
Gee’s Bend Quilts

old clothes quilt
Gee’s Bend Quilts

old clothes quilt
Gee’s Bend Quilts

old clothes quilt
Gee’s Bend Quilts

Work Clothes Quilt – Gee’s Bend
By Loretta Pettway Bennett

old clothes quilt
Detail of a Gee’s Bend Quilt
Flickr: Stiching Hands www.flickr.com

An Old Clothes Quilter Near You?

Many artists will take your old clothes and make a personalized quilt for you…

old clothes quilt
Seascape made from retired blue jeans
by Tom Deninger
Rivets, tabs and labels turn into sand and pebbles;
pockets and frays become waves and sea foam.

old clothes quilt
Passage Quilts
By Sherri Lynne Wood
Beautiful work…

Alix Joyal of Mamaka Mills, creates one of a kind custom quilts and throws on the Seacoast of NH using recycled and repurposed textiles and fabrics. www.mamakamills.blogspot.com –  www.etsy.com $150-$650


Recycled Clothing Quilt
By Sara of Halifax, Nova Scotia

old shirts quilt
Men’s Shirt Quilt
Ocheltree Design $1800.

men's shirt quilt
Men’s Shirt Quilt

recycled quilt
Close up of Moondance
By Naomi Wanjiku

recycledQuiltPatrick Nolan ‘Galaxy’
An avid recycler who lives in a recycled 105 year old former general store in Foristell, MO. Possibly a source for all those buttons. E-mail via www.foundryartcentre.org

recycled quilt
Patrick Nolan ‘Galaxy’ close up.
Recycled fabric, buttons, jewelry. E-mail via www.foundryartcentre.org

Very Cool Men’s Tie Quilt
quilted trash
Quilted Trash
8th Graders at Carson Middle School
Use a quilting template but glue on cut outs.

Etsy Mosaic Example:


Tips for DIY Upcycled Quilts & Other Fabric Uses:

1 – Look at Commercial Quilts For Ideas

You should look at commercial quilts to find good ideas for patterns. These examples would all be a good fit for upcycled patterns if you have clothing fabric that can be a good match for the pattern:

Cool chevron patterns with differing fabric styles would be a great contrast. Image courtesy of justbedding.com.au/bed-linen/quilt-covers

Here’s another good one if you have long strips of fabric available:

2 – Find Help From Etsy if You Can’t Quilt

There are lots of sellers that will take your fabric pieces and create various quilt patterns for you.

3 – Look For Alternative Sources for Fabric

  • Old baby clothes – use your own as a great gift for a kid (perhaps as they’re about to have their own kids), or buy these in bulk online or from a local Goodwill.
  • Etsy clothing scraps precut for quilting (example below)

4 – Thing Of Other Quilted Items

  • Make grocery shopping bags or purses.
  • Make gift bags or simply wrap a present and use ribbon to close.
  • Make winter accessories. Make a scarf hat and mittens from old sweaters.
  • Make doll clothes or stuffed animals.
  • Make bean bag chairs, filled with all those horrible peanuts.
  • Make a dog bed. Make dog clothes. Oh gosh please take an old sweater and put it on your dog and submit it in the comments below!

5 – Upgrade Existing Clothing or Fabric Items

  • Add hidden pockets to jackets.
  • Patch holes in clothes with interesting patterns.

6 – “Downcycle” The Items Instead

  • Use as rags.

7 – Find A Good Destination If You Don’t Want It

Fabric is being turned in to lots of cool stuff these days like insulation or new clothes.

  • Donate to charity.
  • Find a textile recycling center. Our local Goodwill has a dropoff for recycling clean clothing that isn’t fit for wear.

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.

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