Quilt Operation: Re-piecing a Quilt Top

Sometimes you look at your finished quilt and just feel unsatisfied. There’s something is wrong with it. Maybe you cut a few pieces of your patterned fabric in the wrong direction. Or maybe the colors didn’t come together as you imagined. The colors I ordered for my newest Princess and Pony pattern weren’t the exactly what I had been imagining. But they looked close enough to work, so I sewed on.


However, once I pieced it all together, the colors of the characters blended together into a splat of brown. I mean, it looked alright. I feel like most people would have left it and move on to their next project, and I almost did too. But I didn’t want an alright quilt. I wanted a badass quilt. So, I looked through my fabric stash and found some color options that I could use. Then I pushed aside all thoughts of how long re-piecing a quilt top takes takes and turned on a good audio book with a seam ripper in hand.


Original Princess and Pony Design
The original Princess and Pony quilt design

Why I chose to re-piece my quilt top

So, I’ve already told you guys that I wasn’t ready to give up on this quilt, but there were a few reasons why I felt this quilt top was worth salvaging. First, the background fabric was one of my favorite fabrics I have ever bought. It was a subtle, shiny, and metallic and it was perfect for this project. I spent a pretty penny on it, too. 2,500 pennies to exact. There was no way I was going to let that fabric be sent to sent off the closet of death. It deserved better. Also, if I decided to make this quilt again, I would want to use the same fabric for the background, the horse, and the princess’ head. It made no sense to waste that much fabric when I like this pattern and want the completed quilt.


Second, while the fabric I wanted to replace took up over a quarter of the quilt, it was all group in one area. This meant it would be easy to remove. In fact, large chunks could be taken out together. This would mean less seam ripping, which makes everyone happy.


And third, and honestly the most important, none of the piecing done with this fabric was very fiddly or complicated. There were a couple spots of sewing a half-square triangle on a half square triangle. And diagonal seams were a little difficult, because I had already trimmed the pieces down. But it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already managed in other quilts when I sewed diagonal seams on in the wrong direction…


Mind decided, I was still quite nervous about ripping my new quilt top apart. Not only would this take a lot of time, but could I ruin the quilt top by fraying the fabric too much as I seam ripped. But it was a risk I needed to take to get a product I was proud of.


Tips for re-piecing a quilt top

I divided my work into three sections: hair, chest, and skirt (which were also the blocks in the pattern I had to redo). This helped keep me organized so I wouldn’t accidentally sew a piece in the wrong place, but it also let me test to see how well this project would work. You see, I started in the hair section, which had the least amount of fabric to re-piece, but also some of the hardest re-piecing I had to do. The hair section was also a corner of the quilt, so I knew if all went wrong, I had enough fabric left over to replace the whole hair block. But, on the other hand, if it went well, I knew could fix the rest of the quilt.


Seam ripping is obviously paramount to this project, but its important not to seam rip too much. The more pieces you remove, the more complicated it will be to put back together. I didn’t remove any piece I didn’t have to. All pieces were left hanging on to the quilt with at least one seam. All except a few pieces–see the elbows with the double half square triangles below. This, along with working section-by-section from top to bottom, helped keep the quilt organized. I never sewed a piece back into the wrong spot.


As for the seam ripping, I picked about an inch or two down the seam past piece I wanted to remove. This left enough room to remove the piece, sew a new piece on, and then close of the surgical site. However, this method does require a little patience, especially if you are dealing with diagonal seams, because it doesn’t leave a lot of room to position the new pieces correctly. I used lots of straight pins and sewing clips to hold everything in place. Don’t try re-piecing a quilt top without pinning. You will be resewing a lot if you don’t–trust me.


Was it worth re-piecing the quilt top worth it?

Honestly, re-piecing the quilt top was a lot simpler and went a lot faster than I thought it would. The original quilt top had taken me 4-5 easy nights of sewing, but I seam ripped and resewed the princess in one night. That’s only about 4-5 hours! My dreadful brain thought it would take that many days!


As for the result, I am beyond thrilled. I think the green dress looks amazing with the soft green background. In fact, I think it looks better than the colors I had chosen in the original design. She feels more sophisticated now, more Slytherin (which is always a great thing!). What do you think? Have you ever chose to re-piece a quilt top rather than throw it in your ‘work-in-progress’ pile? Would you now?


Orange Princess and Pony Quilt
Green Princess and Pony Quilt

Sew on!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments