Retro Patchwork Bedspread made into a Snuggly Throw and Bag

I finally turned the old patchwork bedspread my Nan made for me in the 1970's into a cosy new throw and a fun tote bag.

Retro patchwork bedspread made into a snuggly throw and bag

Back in November, as part of my Sum of their Stories features, I shared a brighter than bright patchwork bedspread that my nan made for me way back when I was little. You can see my original post here.

close up patchwork sq.jpg

Lots of you were kind enough to offer ideas of how I could turn this bedspread into something we could actually use and enjoy, instead of it just sitting in a bag at the bottom of the wardrobe. In the Christmas holidays I finally found the time to make a start and take the bedspread, with it's expansive valance frill, apart.

Wowza, my nan did not skimp on sewing thread, she put this thing together to last. It took a whole afternoon to get the valance off and the backing off the patchwork. My seam ripper has never worked so hard!

It turned out that my nan had finished of the edges of the patchwork like this.

back of patchwork.jpg

No worries about any of those hand stitches coming undone any time soon!

Everything got washed and ironed just to freshen it all up then I was ready to begin a makeover.

At this point I will apologise for the lack of "as I went along" photos. I was in the zone...just experimenting and trying to make this work and so I completely forgot to take photos of the steps - sorry.

Following all the super helpful advice I'd been given, thank you all, I'd decided to give the patchwork a soft fleecy or fluffy backing to make it more snuggly.

In our local fabric shop they had a lovely sherpa style fleece but it was £12 per metre and not very wide, so I took a trip to Tesco and bought a soft throw for a fiver. 

Once taken apart the patchwork piece was long and narrow, measuring 94cm/37" by 190cm/75" and the soft throw was 150cm/59' by 120cm/47" .

I had originally wanted to avoid chopping into the patchwork but in the end I just went for it. I cut the extra length off the patchwork and the extra width off the throw. Both bits ended up being 94cm/37" by 150cm/59" - a perfect size for a throw or snuggly quilt type thing.

To try to ensure the cut edge doesn't start to unravel, I folded it over with a small hem and stitched.

stitched edge.jpg

I laid the fluffy throw over the patchwork, wrong sides together then stitched round the edge. Then I cut a long length of fabric from the valance of the original bedspread to bind the edges.

If you look closely this is where my inexperience shows. I think I used the "hot mess" method for my binding and the "dog's dinner" technique for the corners. The whole thing was so thick and bulky under my sewing machine foot that when I lifted the foot to turn the corner I kept forgetting to put it back down - rookie mistake!

folded throw.jpg

However all is not lost. The whole thing is secure and enclosed, no raw edges or risk of anything coming undone so I'm calling it a win. Just don't look too closely and it's fine. Actually I think the patchwork is so vibrant it is hard to take your eyes off it, no one is going to be looking at the wonky binding with all that amazing colour, pattern and texture!

cosy throw.jpg

See how I've tucked the corners in for this photo so you can't see just how awful they are! 

To finish the throw I used this tutorial from Chrissie D to hand tie the layers together. It was easy and it works. Yay!


I'm so happy with the finished throw. It's soft, warm, pretty, practical and full of memories.

old bedspread to snuggly throw

As I had chopped a piece off the top of the quilt I decided to use that bit and make it into a bag.

Patchwork bedspread to tote bag

The piece was 94cm/37" by 40cm/16" so I secured the raw cut edge with a narrow hem as I had on the throw and then cut a piece of the old blue valance to the same size for the lining.

Basically I made the tote bag using pretty much the same method as I used for my Tetris tote bag here.

bag on windowsill 2.jpg

The main difference was that I folded the pieces, the patchwork and the lining, in half and just stitched the bottom and side of each rather than all 3 sides. I didn't want to be cutting the patchwork any more than necessary.

I made handles from the same blue fabric as the lining and just squared off the corners to make the bag more boxy.

box corner.jpg

I shared how to do this in more detail in my T Towel Tote Bag Tutorial if you don't know how (it's REALLY easy) 

That was it - Ta da! I was much more confident making the bag than the throw, bag making is much more my comfort zone!

Patchwork tote bag

I'm going to use this as a shopping bag. I realise I risk it getting damaged if it's a high use item like that but my heart will be happy every time I use it. This patchwork has spent the best part of 40 years in a cupboard, I think it will enjoy the fresh air and exercise! 

Retro bedspread to patchwork throw and bag

So there you have it, an old and unused bedspread turned into 2 useful things. My nan was a really practical woman and waste upset her so I think she would  have been really pleased.


I'll be linking up at these great link parties