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Conversational Threads

ideas for using old linens

skier | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m doing that major cleanup I’ve been promising myself for ages.  I have come across a box of old (antique?) linen – napkins, handkerchiefs, guest towels, table cloths etc that I have inherited.  They are quite beautiful, but not something I would really get much use out of as they are.  Does anyone have any ideas of what things I can do with them?  Or any suggestions of where to get ideas – other forums, websites, books etc?  They are too good to get rid of and I would like to do something creative.  I have seen blouses and dresses made of old linens at craft fairs, but would need some sort of pictures or patterns to go by.  Thanks for your help.



  1. SewTruTerry | | #1

    Check out the HGTV website and the program Simply Quilts Alex had a program about using old linens and hankies and making a quilt with them.  It is really quite lovely idea.  Just remember that it would be better to sell them to someone that can use them whole if they are in good condition then to cut them up just because you can't use them as is.  I believe though from your message that there is some damage to them.  If there is only stain damage there is a lot that can be done to clean them.  If however there are holes or thin spots you could also use them for sachets or baby bonnets ect.  The possiblilities are limitless. There is one other suggestion that I would like to make if you are in a rather cosmipolitan area please check with museum curators to find out if anything is really worthy of their collection and perhaps think about making a donation to them.  Gee I hope that I have covered all of the bases on this one.

  2. suesew | | #2

    I just saw an idea I believe was on Elna's website where the decorated edge of an old pilowcase was made into the skirt of a baby dress by sewing 8 or l0 inches of it to a baby undershirt. It was really cute.

    1. sarahkayla | | #3

      I turned two dinner napkins into a cute baby outfit ( a jacket and skirt).. I made myself a jacket out of two teatowels and a handful of doileys. I made my dd a bias cut elastic waist skirt out of a damask tablecloth ( with lace trim at the hem...similar to abananarepublic skirt they were showing at the time).

      I have also made tank tops for myself out of linen dinner napkins..they are some comfortble to wear in the steamy heat.

      I seem to be the place where old linens go when their owners die or move into assisted living.

  3. marijke | | #4

    The book Sew Vintage by Jennie Archer Atwood has a lot of ideas.

    She also had an article in Threads, I'm not sure when.


  4. sueb | | #5

    Hi Abby,

    If you know anybody who weaves they can turn them into some great table runners, rugs, fabrics for bags and a lot of other things.  I've used fabric strips myself to weave scarves, fabrics for clothing and bags and I've done a lot of rugs as well with some great results.



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