What do you do when your sheets get a rip in them? For most of us, the first reaction is to throw them away and buy a new set.
Maybe, if we’re feeling industrious, we might tear them up and use them for rags. Almost no one repairs them anymore. And even less people use all that material for something else useful.
And yet, there are so many things you can do with sheets that are past their used by date, from repairing them, using them in quilting, or making entirely new items. Essentially, a flat sheet is just a large piece of seamless material, and a fitted sheet isn’t much different. And pillowcases have their own potential as well!
Extending the life of sheets is fairly easy. The wear of a sheet is predictable. Bottom sheets wear much faster than top sheets, and mostly in the middle. In days when material was scarce, they used to cut a worn sheet in half, and sew the outsides together, putting the worn areas to the outside, and the stronger areas into the middle. Simple tears in otherwise strong sheets can be easily repaired, prolonging the life of the sheet.
Once a sheet is past the point of repair, there is still usually a lot of usable material left in them, especially around the edges. I’ve previously used sheets to make long skirts, my favourite piece of clothing! I made this one out of two contrasting sheets, and wore it until it wore out! The long pieces of material required for this project suited the nature of worn sheets perfectly.
An advantage of using sheets for clothing is that they’re already soft and already pre-shrunk. Some of these older sheets have lovely patterns too. And if you’re wondering, no one has ever guessed that they used to be sheets!
The soft nature of the material means it’s perfect for children’s clothing or toys. These cute little dresses are made from pillowcases, and require very little sewing. Nice and cool for summer.
I’ve also used sheets for making cushions, shopping bags (even more eco-friendly than the typical ‘green bags’ you can buy at the shopping centre), and patchwork floor rugs.
For me, making things out of old sheets is a fun exercise in creativity and recycling. A hundred years ago though, it was necessity. New material was hard to come by, and expensive, so it made sense to use it as many times as possible before it was turned into rags.
For the characters in my novel, Reckless Rescue, it’s even more necessary. Stranded on a planet, with no contact with the outside world, they can’t buy new sheets, or skirts, or quilts. So every piece of material they bought with them is exceptionally valued, and used many times.
Have you ever considered recycling sheets? Or is there anything else that you’ve discovered a cool new use for?
I have so much admiration for anyone who can make things, especially clothes. I have tried to befriend the sewing machine I inherited, but it doesn’t like me, and I haven’t the patience to sew more than a superman cape by hand. Worn clothes go to the recycle bank, or get used for oiling the kitchen work top!
I have to admit, I’m lucky to have grown up with a mum who was really into sewing, and happy to show me how.
Having grown up with that same mother, I feel the need to say that the massive inborn gift for sewing didn’t hurt either. 😉
LOL. Or the persistence to insist that she had to teach me, right now. And I needed those scraps of material. And lace.
Great ideas, for old sheets.
Thanks Nana Prah. The ideas are so endless. Sometimes I haunt second hand shops (thrift stores) for old sheets just so I can cut them up! Some of the patterns are so pretty.
They make great liners for the trunk on garbage day, and for taking care of cats that need to not claw up the carpet. My mother was always big on re-purposing materials and passed it on to me. I’d rather not spend!
So true John. Reusing or repurposing something you already have instead of buying something new can save a lot! And it’s much better to save a dollar than make a dollar, because you don’t pay tax on the one you save!
Have I ever thought about using old sheets for something new? Yes. Have I actually done it? No. 😀 Maybe someday I will though. My daughter is better at re-purposing things. She recently took an old swimsuit of hers and re-worked it into her existing swimsuit which wasn’t fitting her right either. I was impressed! I had been encouraging her to just buy a new swimsuit, but no, she says this re-purposed one will work for her at least for the rest of this year.
I’m impressed! Swimsuit material is pretty tricky to work with, and to turn two not fitting suits into one that does is great! And kids outgrow them so quickly, so it’s very practical as well.