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Recycled Fabrics: Bed Sheets

Earlier this week, I wrote about the late 19th and early 20th century American tradition of using feedsack fabric for clothing, quilts, and household goods. Obviously, that was an early and innovative form of fabric reuse, which many of us continue to practice in our own ways.

There are many reasons to use recycled fabrics. Cost is a big one, as is keeping clothing and fabric out of the landfills. But another major reason for me is that you can get some really lovely fabrics this way!

I love soft cottons and large-scale florals, two things that I find really difficult to locate in most fabric stores. My solution these days? Vintage sheets! 100% cotton sheets are soft and comfortable with a lovely drape and hand, and often come in some amazing prints, from nautical stripes to sweet 60s florals. Youd be surprised what you can do with them, and for a fraction of the price you’d pay off the bolt.

Here are some other beauties I’ve found via Etsy, for a fraction of what you’d pay for a nice cotton. But I’ve found thrift stores to be the absolute best for finding sheets. I especially like to stock up on plain white sheets, as they can come in handy for lining light garments!

{images above via Etsy: sosovintage, JaneSaysVintage, tessimal, VintageUrbanGirl, RememberMeMonCherie, LemonBlooms, JaneSaysVintage}

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



August 26, 2010 #

I love to reuse. I save all our old sheets and use them as quilt backs. As long as they are not all worn down it works great!


August 26, 2010 #

I’ve often read on various blogs about using bedsheets but I’ve yet to do it – I need to do some serious stash reduction first!


August 26, 2010 #

Every Saturday (half off day at the local thrift store) the sheet section is my first stop. Still, I’ve yet to find anything half as beautiful as what you show in this post. Maybe this Saturday!


August 26, 2010 #

My grandmother uses flannel sheets to make my winter Pijamas, because the quality of the fabric is better :)

E. Elizabeth

August 26, 2010 #

Vintage bedsheets have been my secret weapon for years! After a while you start to recognize all of the designs and colorways. I’ve had to cut myself off from buying them (except for certain, always appreciated designs) because I am running out of room for them. I’ve even had to start using them for their intended purpose!


August 26, 2010 #

Worn out sheets have always been my favorite for cutting muslins.


August 26, 2010 #

Such lovely prints! Thanks for sharing!


August 26, 2010 #

Half my stash is made up of sheets and duvet covers from the thrift store! It’s so cheap and the prints you can find are so pretty. Perfect for quilting and if you can find the crisp, cotton sheets those are great for summer dresses.


August 26, 2010 #

I also love using old sheets. I’ve many beautiful patterns and for so cheap. I also love using old button down shirts as well.


August 26, 2010 #

One of these bedsheets my grandmother had all our lives. It was such a throwback to sleep overs at her house! I love vintage sheets. They’re cool, in every way.


August 26, 2010 #

I absolutely love vintage sheets. We have some great thrift/ antique stores in our area and I’ve found some beautiful ones (some great vintage tablecloths, too!)


August 26, 2010 #

I love that you mentioned this – I bought a great flowered sheet at the thrift store originally to use for muslins and testing. Once I got it home, I really liked the print so now I’m saving it for a real project!


August 26, 2010 #

Very pretty prints indeed! I’ve never thought to use vintage sheets, but I have used vintage table clothes.

Mary Beth

August 28, 2010 #

Totally agree, I just bought four sheets at the goodwill for 2.99 each…..fabulous floral prints and so cheap….can’t wait to sew with them!


August 28, 2010 #

I’m the friend who always asks, “you’re not going to throw that sheet away, ARE you?” I use the ugliest and most worn out ones for muslins, and the better sheets with more tolerable patterns eventually end up as “running around the neighborhood casual” skirts and sundresses. The next step is to dye some of them, as I can get 2 to 3 skirts out of the same sheet, it’s a bit repetitive.


August 30, 2010 #

I adore using old bedsheets that I’ve thrifted! I found some really beautiful 60s/70s florals at a thrift shop earlier this year, and actually used a couple for making up one of your patterns! ;) Can’t beat the pretty patterns and colors (not to mention that lovely, drapey fabric that only comes from years of washing!) on a shoestring budget!

♥ Casey
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November 9, 2012 #

I made my first Hazel out of a bright yellow 1970’s floral sheet. I cut the border prints out for the border and middle and then used the plain yellow parts to form the rest. Great way to make a wearable Muslin!!! My whole Hazel dress cost me about 75 cents given that the thread and zipper where thrift store purchases.


November 9, 2012 #

I don’t know how I missed this post. I got a pair of those exact same orange floral sheets in 1976 as a wedding present! Must have been from American guests, as UK bedlinen was much more sobre in design and colour. Despite the fact that I didnt really like them much – orange not being a favourite colour of mine since an unfortunate “Orange tart” allusion by a boy in my class in my last year of seconday school – they lasted and lasted and lasted until they were really unusable.
Other wedding guests – also American – gave me (there is no longer a “we” to my great relief) much prettier cream sheets covered in teeny little pink roses, much more my style in those days. Unfortunately, they wore too out through use or I’d be making sheet dresses with the best of you!