How to Make a Super-Simple Recycled Quilt

comments (38) October 4th, 2013     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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Showcase your favorite vintage sheets by transforming them into a cozy quilt. You dont need any special equipment or prior quilting experience.
What a great way to add warmth to your winter with very little investment of time or cash!
Hidden inside the two sheets: a cotton, wool, or fleece blanket.
Showcase your favorite vintage sheets by transforming them into a cozy quilt. You dont need any special equipment or prior quilting experience.

Showcase your favorite vintage sheets by transforming them into a cozy quilt. You don't need any special equipment or prior quilting experience.

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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I love pretty vintage sheets, and this project is a great way to show them off. It's also a good, basic introduction to quilting - if you've never made a quilt before, I guarantee you can make this one.

What you'll need:

  • Two sheets (see notes below)
  • One blanket (see notes below)
  • Scissors
  • Large safety pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Tapestry needle with sharp point
  • Thimble (optional)
  • Sport- or worsted-weight yarn
quilts See more quilting projects:

An Out-of-the-Ordinary T-Shirt Quilt
Make an Eco-Friendly Quilted Tote Bag
How to Sew a Patchwork Cat Mat
Make a Patchwork Christmas Tree

Let's talk materials: When you're at the thrift store looking for supplies for this project, keep a few things in mind. First, your two sheets and blanket should all be roughly the same size-I used two twin sheets and a twin blanket. And be sure to check over all three pieces carefully for stains and rips. The blanket will be completely hidden, so it can be a little beat up, but the sheets should be in good shape.

In addition, the blanket you select for this project should be fairly thin. A cotton or wool blanket would work best, but you can also work with a fleece blanket, as I have here. The blanket can have a print on it, since it will be hidden. Just check your sheets to make sure the blanket won't show through them.

  Lay the two sheets out, right sides together.

To get started, wash all three pieces and press the sheets. Then, clear a large floor space and lay the sheets out flat, right sides together. Line them up along one edge-I usually use the bottom edge. (The other edges may or may not match-twin sheets come in a variety of sizes. But don't worry about this for now.)

  Lay the blanket on top of the stacked sheets. Line up the edge 2 inches from the edges of the sheets.

Now, place the blanket on top of the sheets. Line up one edge of the blanket about 2 inches away from the lined-up edge of the sheets.

  Place safety pins all over the blanket, pinning all three layers together.

This next step is the key to your success with this project: safety pins! One of the reasons a quilt project can seem challenging is its size-it's not easy wrangling all those large pieces of fabric. That's where safety pins come in-and lots of them.

Large safety pins are easiest to work with, but you can use smaller ones. Pin them through all three layers at roughly 3-inch intervals. Cover the entire surface of the blanket with safety pins, making sure that the blanket is lying flat as you pin.

Once the three layers are securely pinned together, you can move them around for cutting and sewing.

  Trim the sheets and blanket to the same size.

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posted in: fabric, houseware, quilt

Comments (38)

Fabric1869 writes: Thanks for the tutorial, its more of a comforter than a quilt but a great idea non the less
Posted: 8:58 am on March 26th
LGreenl writes: When sewing the fourth edge, why not make sure the fleece blanket in the center is sewn between the sheets on the outside? The ties seem like a lot of effort when the blanket in the center could be sewed to the sheets on the outside. I do hope to try this as a first sewing project, so sorry if its a silly question.
Posted: 10:31 pm on November 3rd
Jaimn writes: I'm so glad to see this. I have already made three for our home, and have three in the works. I wish that I had found this blog before now! I actually am making mine into sleeping bags, but they are so comfy now that I haven't joined them together yet. I used flannel sheets for warmth. Thanks for posting a better way!
Posted: 2:17 pm on October 31st
garnetnm writes: I noticed that yarn or cord ties work loose in time. So I use my machine to tack my quilts. I have a friend who makes many quilts for the Linus program. She told me to do her method to get a knot so tight you couldn't get it to come loose.

Choose a sew across or plain zigzag stitch. Set stitch length and width to near zero.

Lower the presser foot and do about 10 zigzags. It practically makes a knot.

Raise the presser foot without cutting the threads, move to the next tack spot, keeping connecting threads eased. Lower the foot and stitch the tack.

Repeat across a row. Now take the quilt out and cut the threads close to each knot.
Posted: 7:19 pm on October 6th
celticangel writes: I love this quilt!! It is one of the easiest ones I have seen. Thank you so much for showing us how to do it!!
Posted: 4:15 am on October 5th
greeneyes21 writes: I like the "running stitch" comment by LindaPermann, for the tie yarn. My Grandson's quilt which I made for him needs to be covered as it is shredding from use. I couldn't bear thinking about "quilting" that all over again when I recover it.

Thanks for the idea for the quilt, Diane.
Posted: 5:51 pm on October 4th
Stillsewing writes: Well done! a project I'd like to do. However one question, why the tapestry needle? Those that I have used when sewing tapestries, are deliberately blunt, I have never seen a sharp one. Did you mean a darning needle?

Sorry to be pedantic but I come from a country that has Autumn, where only the leaves "fall" from the trees, the country does not "fall">
Posted: 12:05 pm on October 4th
Sandoo4 writes: My mom told me that grandma used to work her quilts (tying them) by hanging them on the wall from a padded quilt board at the top. The layers would hang while she pinned or basted them together.
Posted: 11:37 am on May 30th
Hawaii_Kat writes: I DID IT!!! I made this quilt this weekend (even with a broken thumb!)! And it looks fantastic! I had been saving a much loved, vintage Ralph Lauren sheet and had no idea what to do with it is on my bed as a quilt! Thank you, thnak you, thank you!!!
Posted: 2:50 pm on August 9th
kelegirl6 writes: I MADE THE QUILT!!!!!!!!! I'll be posting up my experience, pictures, etc on my blog!! :-)
@kelegirl6 @sammiesgizmos
Posted: 1:29 am on July 31st
kelegirl6 writes: After reading this about 5 times... mind you its late! I think I got it. After sewing the 3 edges before turning right side out you take out all the safety pins and then hand sew the 4th side.

I have a blanket to try this out with, now I just need to get some old sheets
Posted: 4:39 am on July 30th
kelegirl6 writes: I'm confused on the whole turning it inside out :(

The pictures show the safety pin heads, I guess you could call it, resting on the fleece, but when you turn it inside out how do you take out all those bobby pins??

I apologize in advance if this question doesn't make any sense. I'm a newbie sewer and am attempting a tshirt quilt as my first sewing project!!!
Posted: 4:10 am on July 30th
SewingSmarts writes: I made a quilt for my son using this method and it turned out very well. The only difference was that the top I made out of 9 inch blocks in all different shades and patterns of blue. Some denim, chambray, mostly cut up old shirts, skirts etc. It was fun to make.
Posted: 2:59 pm on July 29th
1ariadne writes: my teen doughter loved this idea but instead of just using some yarn we put butons onit in a nice patern.
just 2 hours of work and a supply of butons later...
it worked out perfect

thank you for the inspiration!
Posted: 6:22 pm on March 14th
Stile writes: sold on this idea. Looking forward to making some quilts -- would be my first venture into 'quilting' .. so to speak.
Posted: 12:24 pm on January 17th
fancyshoe writes: Hi i and new, Iam looking for a pattern to make fabric post cards. thanks fancyshoe.
Posted: 9:05 pm on December 8th
BeverlyJDS writes: I like this idea. Thanks. I have several blankets that I wanted to cover for quilts now I can do it at a reasonable price.
Posted: 9:09 am on June 4th
DeeDeeM writes: My Grandmother used a method very similar to this to recycle her old worn quilts into new quilts. I've known her to piece a whole new top for the quilt and finish it this way. This article brought back some really great memories.
Posted: 9:17 pm on May 21st
Sewing2enjoying writes: I am preparing for the annual summer conference of church women from my state church family and this will be absolutely perfect for that! We must bring our own bedding. This is wonderful because it will be washable and I can use it thereafter for guests! Love it!!!
Posted: 7:12 pm on May 16th
marieJ writes:
Fantastic idea!!....
Hopefuly I will be able to use all of the
wool blankets my dd insists on buying
for me but I'm unable to use due to
alergy to wool.
Posted: 8:44 pm on May 15th
Sweet_Dee writes: Very Helpful...thank you!
Posted: 1:35 am on April 1st
sewbozo writes: My husband asked me to sew a quilt like this 25 years ago, mine you, it was against my will. My husband said, "you put to much detail and work into something I just want to cover up with". Fine, So I did just that. But I did use high count sheets, (a must for him) and a cheap new blanket inside $3.00 on sale. I made it as simple as I could, and low and behold, he loved it. I dare say, I've made many many more, It so easy and fun to match any bedding too Just by purchasing extra sheets to match or if that's not your choice, May I suggest going to the resale shops. I have found very high count flat sheets there at wonderful prices. As far as my husband, I still don't know that he'll ever really get it. He just doesn't understand why anyone would cut up fabric, only to sew it back together again? men
Posted: 9:37 pm on March 14th
Mcdsk9s writes: I recently purchased material and a blanket to make a quilt for my daughter, with this style of quilt in mind. The thought of keeping the layers from sliding around and bulky seams has kept me from getting started. Wow, now I am ready to get started! The safety pin tip is the best! Now...where did I put that material....
Posted: 10:00 am on March 2nd
LadySewWise writes: Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to try this. This is a great gift idea. I have 3 friends I can make this for as baby gifts. Im going to use crib sheets and and blankets. Thank you so much. I wiill forward you a pic when complete. ladywise
Posted: 10:25 pm on February 1st
Sister_Diane writes: Hagridsmom, thanks so much for the great tip on knot-tying!
Posted: 7:56 pm on January 29th
hagridsmom writes: Every once in a while the tied knots don't stay tied as well as you would like - the EZ solution is to do a surgeons knot. Very simple - instead of a plain granny square knot, you wrap your thread going under twice, both right and left. You may need to leave a slightly longer tail until you get used to doing this. It should hold up against pets and small fingers very well.
Posted: 10:47 am on January 29th
vintagechicken writes: Thanks so much for sharing this Tutorial. I have some very lovely vintage sheets from my husbands grandmother and have been looking for a special way to use them. This will be the perfect way to display and use them.

I can't wait to get started!

Thanks Again
Posted: 1:38 pm on January 26th
ohnoshesews writes: I've heard of this method before (I think it was called 'birthing a quilt') but never really knew how to do it. This is a great tutorial and a project I can't wait to try. Thank you Diane! Thanks also to LindaPermann for the tip on using a large running stitch to make tying the quilt faster and easier.
Posted: 3:25 pm on January 25th
Sister_Diane writes: susanbrownknitting, those are great tips for non-seamsters. Thank you so much for posting them!
Posted: 9:46 am on January 24th
susanbrownknitting writes: This is a great project. I am a little tired of my sewing machine atm, so decided to do one of these completely by hand. I left a 5/8" hem on the bottom fabric all around which I then folded over the top sheet and hemmed with a contrast running stitch in embroidery floss. This makes it a 100% hand made project and one which lends itself to non-sewers. For example,I have got my non sewing book group to make one as a group thing. I got a check/stripe combination for them to help with the grid (first checking that it was printed true on the grain).

This is a very versatile quilt and you can vary the look depending on what you tie with and the fabric you choose

Posted: 4:32 am on January 24th
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: Brilliant! Now this is *my* kind of quilting project. :)
Posted: 8:18 pm on January 23rd
erika_kern writes: Yeah, this is sooo much fun! Great idea for reusing ugly linens.
Posted: 7:59 pm on January 23rd
elbowyoyo writes: How cool that you posted this idea today!

Last night,while beginning my first "practice" quilt, I wondered to myself if I could replace batting with a perfectly good fleece quilt that I have (one that is also perfectly UGLY). Now I know it's worth trying. Thanks much for the inspiration!
Posted: 5:53 pm on January 23rd
susanstars writes: very cool quilt project, Diane, and what an awesome bonus tip, Linda!
Posted: 5:00 pm on January 23rd
croqzine writes: The safety pin tip is brilliant!
Posted: 4:56 pm on January 23rd
LindaPermann writes: there's always next time! i always thought the tying method was crazy until I read that tip!!
Posted: 4:20 pm on January 23rd
Sister_Diane writes: THAT is brilliant, Linda. Thanks so much for posting that tip. Dang... wish I'd done mine that way!
Posted: 2:45 pm on January 23rd
LindaPermann writes: This is a great tutorial Diane!
One tip for next time you tie a quilt-- you can also thread the yarn through the entire width of the quilt (like a big, spaced out running stitch, inserting your needle wherever you want a tied place to be) and then cut the yarn halfway between each needle insertion and do the tying all at once. That will make it a little easier to see the "grid" while you are making your running stitch, and there will be less stopping, starting, wondering where the scissors went, etc.
Posted: 12:25 pm on January 23rd
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