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Thread: Quilting using old clothes

  1. #1
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    Quilting using old clothes

    With the price of fabric and everything else rising it is getting harder and harder to afford fabric for quilts. Although there are lots of beautiful fabrics out there, I would rather put food on the table for my kids.

    I am wondering if anyone makes quilts using old clothes and if you have pictures of these quilts to show. Is there anything in particular you look for when purchasing used clothing for quilting? What do you use for batting?

    I don't have a 'stash' so working from that is not feasible.

  2. #2
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    I do use old clothes for my daughter to quilt with, as I don't want to use up a lot of my expensive stash for her to play with. I find cotton shirts at the thrift stores for her to use. Works great!
    MistyMarie

  3. #3
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I know a lot of people do. I have not, but I have used an old flannel sheet for batting when I want a thin quilt.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Chester the bunny's Avatar
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    The best fabric finds at thrift stores are homemade wrap around skirts that someone wore once or twice. If you do decide to use clothing, just look and feel to see that it is not really worn otherwise, you are reducing the life of your quilt by a few years
    I have bought many pieces of clothing specifically for quilting. Really the last thing I should do considering the size of my stash.

    Carole

  5. #5
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    My favorite quilt of all times was the one my great grandmother made using sewing scraps and pieces from my worn out and outgrown dresses and skirts I wore as a child. I treasure that quilt still. I've been thinking about sewing a label on it about all the pieces in it - my great grandmother did not add labels to her quilts.
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  6. #6
    Senior Member cheaha39's Avatar
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    From our local cleaners, I recently bought 50 unclaimed mens uniform and dress shirts, I think the price was $10.00. After washing and cutting up the shirts, saving the buttons, I have made a pair of very soft twin bed quilts. For batting I used the boys old conforters. I have enough broadcloth and precale fabric for two or three more quilts.
    Watch for bag sales at thrift stores, church rummage sales, etc. You can roll and stuff a lot of items in a walmart bag? I only use cotton or cotton blend, easy care old clothes fabric. Sorry no pictures, camera no work for me.
    With quilters for friends, I will always be warm.

  7. #7
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    As for batting - Last year after Christmas, I found rolls of cotton (used for Christmas Villages) for a dollar a piece. I started using these thin cotton rolls (unrolled, I could do easily do a baby quilt with one roll and have left overs for smaller projects) for batting for projects that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on. They worked great!
    MistyMarie

  8. #8
    Power Poster erstan947's Avatar
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    For many quilters clothing is their stash I have in the past used clothing and wouldn't hesitate to at any time. Some reasons are cost of fabric or the item is the perfect color/pattern for what I'm working on. I love scrappy quilts so these items fit in well. Check out http://quiltville.com/ Bonnie has a video on "de boning" a shirt. (scroll down the page for the video)
    Last edited by erstan947; 08-06-2012 at 08:48 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member IAmCatOwned's Avatar
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    Honestly, unless you are going to garage sales, it's generally better to use new fabric on clearance than getting old used clothing.

    That said, I needed to make a 'car blanket'. Salvation Army store gals told me when the last day of the clearance sale was for end of season clothes. I went the last hour and bought whatever I needed for the car blanket (shirts were about 25 each). There are a lot of people around here without jobs or poor and that is where they buy their clothes, so that gave them maximum time to get the stuff. I do not have a picture of the car blanket, but it was just boring squares and meander quilting. For batting, I used Warm and Natural and the backing was some misprinted flannel that I bought at a garage sale for $1. It's in my BILs truck. I can say with certainty though, that for what I paid for the shirts and the resulting usable fabric, I could have made a nicer quilt using clearance fabric at Joanns or Hancocks. I was at Hancock's the other day and some of those cotton clearance fabrics were only $2 a yard.

    Many quilts from the 30s and 40s simply used an old blanket for the 'filling' and tie them. If you plan to tie, I recommend using a coupon and getting the poly off the roll over at Hancocks'. Really warm and the loft holds up for a long time. Please Note: If you double the thickness, it results in a blanket that may be too warm.
    Last edited by IAmCatOwned; 08-06-2012 at 08:54 AM.

  10. #10
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    Think of the quilts our great-grandmothers made. Most used old clothes or their feed sacks. Using Old clothes would be carrying on a truly traditional quilting method.
    http://www.oregonquilting.net
    I choose to give my life away for things that last forever

  11. #11
    Senior Member quilter1943's Avatar
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    I do use men's shirts in some of my quilts, especially if I find a color that I can't live without. Being in Florida the thrift stores have a lot of tropical print shirts. Many of these are wonderful cotton fabrics and splendid colors. Just beware of the poly/cotton mixes and rayon and silk/rayon mixes in the tropical patterns. Near us is a thrift store that has them for $1 sometimes and I try to buy then. Only problem I've found is that you're limited in the size of fabric pieces you get from them.
    Nana Jan
    Friendships are gifts from God that should be cherished and nourished

  12. #12
    Super Member burchquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erstan947 View Post
    For many quilters clothing is their stash I have in the past used clothing and wouldn't hesitate to at any time. Some reasons are cost of fabric or the item is the perfect color/pattern for what I'm working on. I love scrappy quilts so these items fit in well. Check out http://quiltville.com/ Bonnie has a video on "de boning" a shirt. (scroll down the page for the video)
    Bonnie is a master at using old clothes & when you look at her quilts, be prepared to have your sock knocked off because they're fabulous!
    (`v)
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    .*).*)
    (.(. (..`..♥ rebecca

  13. #13
    Super Member donnalynett's Avatar
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    I made my niece a king size quilt using nothing but men's shirts for the front. It was a "Day and Night" pattern.

  14. #14
    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    I make a lot of scrap quilts and use clothing bought at garage sales and thrift stores. I don't buy clothing with a lot of wear and tear. I usually look for the designer cotton clothing, especially Ralph Lauren. I don't know how to post just the thread but if you look at an old post of mine called - A few more quilts I have made - posted 4-18-2010 the one called Country Roses has a 100% cotton used in the center of the block, aqua with roses, this was from a pair of Ralph Lauren pants, and the brown border was from a bed skirt. It was just exactly the color I wanted. The one called Ice Princess was made from free old prom dresses. I managed to use already beaded satin for the border. I also buy 100% wool clothing and wash and dry for wool applique. I think if these clothes have been around for 10-15-20 years they are probably going to last for a lot more years.

  15. #15
    Senior Member wanttobe's Avatar
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    I love to make my scrappy quilts out of large cotton skirts and some cotton shirts. I am NOT a professional quilter but they work for my needs

  16. #16
    Super Member barri1's Avatar
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    I made a fannel rag quilt out of flannel shirts from Goodwill.. I bought the shirts in the summer, and they were $.80 per lb. It worked out great, I bought very good brand of shirts, and it was very well worth it. I made two denim blankets for the kids next door out of denim from Goodwill. There is a lot of good fabric to be had at the thrift stores.. I also have a bunch of my dad's shirts waiting for me to cut up when I figure out what I want to do..

  17. #17
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    My daughter's favorite quilt is one I made from corduroy from pants of mine when I was a kid. It is heavy and warm and backed with flannel. I'm currently working on a quilt made from my dad's old pendleton wool shirts. Well, then there are the T-shirt quilts, blue jean quilts. My grandmother used to make quilt from wool scraps and old wool suits.Name:  WP_001061.jpg
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Size:  1.58 MBMy cousin's neice made a quilt from squares cut from her grandfather's shirts to give to her grandmother. She was 10 at the time. It was very sweet and comforting for her grandmother in the nursing home to have something to remember her husband after he'd passed away. Sunbonnet Sue and Sam were made from old blue jeans and scraps from my stash.

  18. #18
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    I make rag quilts out of thrift and estate sale fabric. I have a thrift store near me that has loads of denim and cotton jumpers. The clothes have different color tags and I buy when the tags are 75%off, I know the clothes have been there 6 weeks so I'm not taking clothes someone could use. I find the women's jumpers are usually still in great shape and have lots of fabric if they are gathered. The handmade ones stick out and are usually very good fabric. I also buy flannel and cotton sheets for the middles and backs. I actually sell my quilts because some people really like the green aspect and each quilt is one of a kind. I will try to post some pictures tomorrow if you would like. My daughter is asleep and our quilt pictures are on her computer. I enjoy the challenge of finding fabrics to put together and I do mix new with old. Hobby Lobby always has a 40% off coupon and you can print off as many as you like.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pollyjvan9 View Post
    I make a lot of scrap quilts and use clothing bought at garage sales and thrift stores. I don't buy clothing with a lot of wear and tear. I usually look for the designer cotton clothing, especially Ralph Lauren. I don't know how to post just the thread but if you look at an old post of mine called - A few more quilts I have made - posted 4-18-2010 the one called Country Roses has a 100% cotton used in the center of the block, aqua with roses, this was from a pair of Ralph Lauren pants, and the brown border was from a bed skirt. It was just exactly the color I wanted. The one called Ice Princess was made from free old prom dresses. I managed to use already beaded satin for the border. I also buy 100% wool clothing and wash and dry for wool applique. I think if these clothes have been around for 10-15-20 years they are probably going to last for a lot more years.
    I love Ralph Lauren because his fabric is always very good and great colors. I just used one of his sheets for the back of a quilt with vintage fabric on the front. I watch for good quality fabric just like at the fabric stores.

  20. #20
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    Smile Quilts from Goodwill clothes

    I often get fabric from Goodwill clothes. This quilt is made from a Lilly Rubin (?Lilli Rubin?) size 4 dress. Almost too pretty to cut up. The dog is from a 1950's "Cashmeresh" coat, the perfume bottle is from various silk blouses, the label, a man's cotton shirt, and the glass is vinyl from a tablecloth cover.
    Today I bought (another!) prom dress and a couple of silk blouses for a specific quilt - purple!
    I do think that it depends on the quality of the Goodwills in your area. Some towns stink, but mine is GREAT!
    I also just love "the hunt"
    Attached Images Attached Images

  21. #21
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    i made two quilts from a coworkers clothing who passed away with cancer for two of his daughters. i decided on a log cabin quiot for two reasons. one, he was a hunter and his clothing was mixed but mainly camo. used his dress shirts, khakis, pajamas and favorite shirts that even had holes. so i needed a scrappy quilt. second, it was hard to square after cutting outc eams etc so i wanted to get the most out of it and strips just worked! had flannel, cotton, moisture wicking fabric and fleece t work with. i walked away two weekend in a row because fabric stretched so bad. so i ended up buying the fabric cutter and it worked perfectly except i got a liitle stretching when pressing. they turned out perfect and are treasured by his children. i have some strips left and jyst found out last week his only son is having a baby boy..the first boy grandchild so i plan to make a baby quilt out if the rest. if i can post a pic, i will.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by pungogal; 08-06-2012 at 06:06 PM.

  22. #22
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    Name:  layla on quilr.jpg
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Size:  93.7 KBThis scrappy is from my scraps, my husbands shirts, a few of my dresses that were to small and lots of left overs from all of the quilts I have made...We love it....

  23. #23
    Senior Member Patti25314's Avatar
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    What a sweet puppy!!! One of the most beautiful quilts I've ever seen was made from John Meyer and Village wool skirts of the 60's.

  24. #24
    Senior Member janegb's Avatar
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    I have made several quilts using cut up clothing from thrift stores, etc. They are holding up very well. WHen I first started quilting, that was my main source of fabric. Still have some. Of course, the fabric wasn't worn out to the shabby, and was mixed with other fabric I had/have in my stash. So if you find some used clothing that looks good go for it.

  25. #25
    Super Member kateyb's Avatar
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    I think if you pick clothing that hasn't had much use it works well for quilts. Men's shirts can have over 2 yards of usable fabric in them. Full skirts also have a lot of fabric. You can tell if there is a lot of wear in them just choose carefully. A lot of men's tropical print shirts are cotton and would be a lot of fun to use. Check the label to be sure they are cotton or at least cotton blend. If you are going to hand quilt use only cotton since it is easier to hand quilt than blends are. Remember our grandmother and great grandmother used what was available for quilting. If used clothing is the most available for you than "go for it".

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