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Conversational Threads

Any use for old bedsheets and towels?

rekha | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I would like to know if there are useful ways of making something out of old bedsheets and bath towels


  1. AmyC | | #1

    Old towels make great bibs.  With small towels, you can just cut a neckline and add a ribbed t-shirt collar edging. 

  2. HeartFire | | #2

    old sheets can be used as 'muslin' for fitting garments


    1. Catfriend | | #13

      My bottom sheet always wears out before my top sheet, so I make the top sheet into pajamas!

  3. Jean | | #3

    I like to have 2 pillow cases on my pillows so I use the hem edges of my old top sheets to make extra pillow cases.

  4. kjp | | #4

    Sew old hand towels or washcloths together to make a soap pocket.  I also used two old bed sheets for a solar pool cover cover (to keep the sun from melting it), but I doubt you would have need for one of those!  :)   You could also piece the towels to make adorable kid's robes - applique with bright colors.  Karin

    1. edgy | | #5

      If you're storing quilts or anything heirloom, pillowcases or sheets sewed as a larger "pillocwase" are acid=free.


  5. GALEY | | #6

    I stitch old towels together to make dog beds; sometimes you have to do this by hand but your conscience is clear when you throw them away!  If you are interested,  you can serge or zigzag the good parts of towels to make face cloths.  Old sheets can be used as lining fabrics for bedskirts, decorative tablecloths or any other home items according to their appearance and amount of wear.  I am currently making a mardi gras cape (mantle) and my customer has given me two old sheets for the innerlining--good and cheap.  Good sewing, rekha--the more resourses we rescue, the more we have.  Galey

    1. rekha | | #7

      What are bedskirts? I like the idea of lining in general and have made one bedsheet into a curtain for the kitchen

      1. GALEY | | #12

        A bedskirt is the dust ruffle or tailored piece that hangs down from the bottom of the mattress to the floor, thus covering the box springs and bed frame.  The nicer ones are attached to a flat platform that covers the box springs.  All commercial home decor patterns have them, but you can construct ruffled, pleated, tailored, split for posts or any other kind by figuring hems, etc. like a lined curtain.  The difference in the ones you see in discount stores and the "decorator" ones is the lining!  I learned how from a Singer Sewing for the Home book.   We have an extra-tall bed and I can often incorporate the skirt that comes with the "complete comforter bed set, etc." into my custom skirt that is the right length.

        1. rekha | | #15

          Ah, we give it the generic name of valance in the UK, but thanks for educating me.

          1. stitchmd | | #16

            Towels make good batting for oven mitts and potholders. Thick, dense, tolerate high temps.

      2. dayflower | | #25

        Some people know bedskirts as dust ruffels, the piece that fits under your mattress, between the mattress and box springs.

        1. rekha | | #26

          This sounds amusing. I guess, historically, the coal dust would have contributed to the 'dust'. Nice!

  6. SewTruTerry | | #8

    I also used old bedsheets to make "garment bags" (without a zipper) to store out of season garments.

    1. sarahkayla | | #9

      I make washcloths out of worn out towels. I use old sheets to give body to wall hangings

  7. Alana | | #10

    I use old sheets for pocket linings--they are thin and finely woven.  And they are very soft when you put your hands in your pockets!

    1. rekha | | #11

      I hope that all this will be put together in a usable list for a permanent reference!

  8. suesew | | #14

    Humane societies love to have old towels and blankets for their dogs and cats.

  9. ablakemo | | #17

    There's an article in martha stewart magazine, one of the summer's issues, where you cut old towels into strips, and fold them like bias strips. Take 3 strips and braid them together, then wind into a bath matt. You hand stitch the coiled batt to keep it together. The photos looked pretty cute and they're supposed to be pretty absorbent.

    It's one of those "to do" projects on my never ending list. If you try it out, please let me know how it works for you--I'd love to hear.

    Good luck!

    1. rekha | | #18

      This appears to be a fantastic idea and I need to make one in the near future anyway, but I cannot find the article you mention. Could you possibly scan and post it?

      1. edgy | | #19

        Question: when you do a ruffled bedskirt, is the lining ruffled also? I need to do one soon, and never thought of lining it. What difference do you think it makes? Do you attach the lining to the dust ruffle?



        1. GALEY | | #20

          If you once make a lined bedskirt, you will never make any other kind.  Use 2 1/2  times the width you need for fullness, line it, and your ruffled bedskirts will stand out like petticoats:  they will look just like the ones in the decorating magazines!  Your pleated and more tailored styles will hold their shape and become a real design element instead of just something to hide your box springs and shoes. 

          I shall assume you already can construct a bedskirt on a platform.  I learned how from a Simplicity Sewing for the Home.  Tips.  Cut the fashion fabric, adding allowances for side hems, 2 1/2" bottom hem, 1/2" top seam, etc.  Cut lining the same width but 2" (two inches shorter)shorter.  Save confusion by marking the center top and bottoms as you go.   Sew all vertical seams.  Place lining hem and fashion fabric  hems wst and sew 1/2" seam; turn and match tops rst; you will see that your hem turns up.   Machine baste.  Turn in side hems and machine blind hem.   For Gathers, zig-zag over fishing line on top of maching basting.  Pull up gathers and sew wrong st to platform.  Finish this seam with a matching or coordinating strip cut 6" wide, sewn wst to gathering seam and turned and top stitched on platform.  Just fold in the corners.  This ensures your platform never shows.  Note:  Lining does not need to be matched; it can be pieced, cut on crossgrain, whatever.   Practice with two small strips of typing paper until you can see the hems and turns. 

          I have sewn custom draperies and other items for a decorator for over 10 years.  This lining and fabric width fullness (always 2 and 1/2) is what we use for our customers, often using $$$ fabric.  Perhaps you have seen or purchased a set that included a dust ruffle that was not the quality you desire.  I have helped salvage these by lining the existing dust ruffle with coordinating lining fabric cut longer;  your hem turns out to make a border, everything matches, and you can even increase fullness by making some coordinating box pleats at the corners.  

          My rule is you never go wrong if you line and/or innerface it!  God bless you, Galey.

        2. canelady | | #22

          Whenever I make a lined bedskirt, ruffled or not, I treat the 2 fabrics as one and then ruffle.

          1. Betony | | #23

            One of my favorite projects is recycling sheets and bedskirts into clothing! My favorite has to be a sundress I created out of a twin fitted sheet, it was no longere useful on my full size be, but the pattern was wonderfully vintage! I used the bedskirt as a ruffle on the bottom of the dress, giving it the illusion of a petticoat. I get compliments on it all the time, and it makes me feel good to recycle (not to mention it was free)

          2. Jean | | #24

            OH, do post a picture!

      2. ablakemo | | #28

        I am on the hunt for it, I'll try to find it for you. :)
        We have a TON of magazines in our office and I know it's here...somewhere...

    2. sueb | | #27

      I tried that project and I can tell you I made quite the mess of my studio doing it !  The towels shed all over everything and the rug itself didn't really lay flat on the floor.  If you do it, plan to use a non slip rug pad underneath since the terry on the floor is really really slippery.  



  10. Hat | | #21

    Old towels can be used to make pillow cases to be used as liners under the regular pillowcases.  It helps minimize perspiration stains on the pillow.  Old sheets make wonderful short garment covers that just go over the shoulder and down about 14 inches - it protects suits and coats from getting dusty and fading during off-season.

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