“It depends.” In my estimation, it depends on the condition of the quilt and its fabrics, the style of the previous quilting, and how the quilt will be used.
In my cousin’s case, the quilt of 8″ squares was basically intact; a few split seams were easily repaired. The quiltmaker, an elderly lady, used polyester batting, and she tied the quilt. Many of the ties have come untied during the 20 plus years my cousin has used the quilt. G.C. felt that a simple, all-over quilting design would extend the life of the quilt and render it more wash-able. He plans to use the quilt in his home and on road/camping trips; it is not a display-only heirloom.
I accepted the challenge of re-quilting and discovered the multitude of fabrics used by the quiltmaker: quilting cotton, poly-cotton sheeting, nylon jersey, double knit, and the backing is drapery fabric as are many of the 8″ squares. In case you are wondering how the fabrics you use today will withstand the test of time, I’ll testify that all these types of fabrics are sturdy, polyester double knit will never dry rot, and the drapery backing has only a few worn places on the very edges of the back-to-front binding. (Not that I am planning to switch to drapery and home dec fabric for my own quilt backings any time soon!)
G.C.’s quilt is not perfect; it’s not even pretty. But it has been a comfortable and comforting companion, well-used and well-appreciated. I believe the all-over meandering in gray thread will extend the life of the quilt as he wished.
Another example of the re-quilting question was my aunt’s desire for me to cover two old patchwork quilts made by her grandmother and great-aunts. Although the patchwork designs were interesting and well-executed, the fabric is worn in many places. Unbonded cotton batting resulted lumpy areas and thin areas (unbonded cotton batting shifts within the quilt when washed). Auntie wanted the quilts covered front and back with new fabric and quilted through all layers so she could use them on beds for warmth in wintertime. While I am willing to make large pillow-case type covers for the quilts, I do not advise using them as fillers for new bedcoverings because the quilts have more family value as they are. In the future, a granddaughter might like to decorate her home with antique textiles. In addition, the older batting and tattered edges of the quilts would have been difficult to work with on my longarm. In truth, I would rather make my aunt a new, warm quilt than to cover her family quilts with new fabric.
Would you re-quilt a quilt? “It depends,” doesn’t it?