It's curtains for your old linens!
March 4, 2009 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Does your linen closet runneth over? Yes, you say, you have a stack of towels you regularly use in the bathroom and for swan origami, but you have others that are getting worn. You have tablecloths and aprons you never use, your dish towels seem to breed in their drawer, and you have pillowcases which have outlasted their matching sheets, king-sized bed sheets for the bed your ex took when you split, and your linen closet contains a selection of linens that are faded or torn or leftover from former decorating colour schemes. What are you to do with them?

Well, you could make a beach towel, bathrobe, hooked bathmat or comfy bathroom pillows out of your excess towels. Your tea towels can be turned into slippers, a window valance, bench cover or cushion. If you need an apron, you can make one out of an extra pillowcase. If you have an apron and don’t need it, you can make it into a curtain. Old pillow cases can become a Christmas stocking, placemats or seat covers, and old quilts can become headboard upholstery. An old print bedspread can become a number of coordinating accessories for your bedroom. Sheets have lots of possibilities because there is so much fabric to work with. They can become pillowcases, curtains, the lining for a sewing project such as a child’s jacket, or a summer dress. If your linens are too worn to be serviceable as fabric, cut them into strips and braid or crochet the strips into a bowl or potholder or a rug. Check out these articles for more ideas on how to reuse household linens. And then smile as you behold your new, useful items that you made yourself, as you survey your linen closet which is no longer stuffed with items you’ll never use, and as you tell your ex you just don’t know where the sheets for the king-sized bed could have gotten to.
posted by orange swan (23 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for these great ideas!
posted by angiep at 7:46 PM on March 4, 2009

My girlfriend and I made a butterfly net out of an old pillowcase. It wasn't as easy to use as the kind with a net cone at the tail, and it quickly got waterlogged, but we caught and tagged more than a few monarchs with it.

I do need an apron, so maybe that will be the fate of the matching pillowcase still stuck in a storage box/linen closet.
posted by Science! at 7:50 PM on March 4, 2009

I admire your understanding of fabric!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:55 PM on March 4, 2009

Arguably OT: I'm the least crafty dude I know, so while I haven't personally tried any tips from your multiple excellent posts, orange swan, I wanted to thank you making this a better site with your quality posts. Carry on, crafters ...
posted by joe lisboa at 8:19 PM on March 4, 2009

If only I still had a bathroom big enough . . . "Throw them on a chair next to the tub,or use them to cushion a bench seat." I like the dog toy thing too. thanks.
posted by emhutchinson at 8:20 PM on March 4, 2009

One more possible use... when I bought my house, the curtains in the mistress bedroom were sheets — unconverted, ugly and (badly) patched sheets. I used them for drop cloths for painting.
posted by orange swan at 8:29 PM on March 4, 2009

I make hammocks from bed sheets by passing nylon webbing through the hems.
posted by hortense at 8:35 PM on March 4, 2009

I have been thinking about crocheting a rug and the one you linked to is awesome.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to keep the edges of the fabric scraps from fraying? Or is this a post for a craft forum? MeMail me if you know, please!
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:41 PM on March 4, 2009

cranberrymonger: if you cut the strips wider than you need them, then fold the long edges in and press them so they stay folded, that cuts down a lot of the fraying. Or if you have access to an overlocker you can overlock them.
posted by andraste at 8:49 PM on March 4, 2009

Does anyone have any ideas about how to keep the edges of the fabric scraps from fraying?

that's what pinking shears (ie: zig-zag scissors) are for...fabric can only fray until it hits the next zig (or zag)

in college i couldnt afford a down comforter (in chicago, brrr...) so i sewed 3 old sheets together along the edges and a few lines of stitching didnt have to be fancy since i had a comforter cover, and boy was it toasty...even warmer than down (if a little heavier)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:54 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

orange swan has to be the master of these types of posts, just sayin'.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:09 PM on March 4, 2009

Does anyone have any ideas about how to keep the edges of the fabric scraps from fraying?

Cut them on the bias (ie at a 45 degree angle to the weave of the cloth). This will also give the strips a bit of stretch, which will make your crocheted fabric nice and tight.
posted by girlgenius at 9:12 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

IvoShandor: "orange swan has to be the master of these types of posts, just sayin'."

Pretty much. I'm almost tempted to register a sock puppet like "pumpkin goose" and spend a few months researching the greatest DIY/re-use/save money thread ever thought of just for one-upsmanship but then orange swan would be all like "That's so cool! Thanks for posting this information! By the way, here's all the stuff you left out... [four paragraphs on links]"

I don't sew more than the occasional repair, but damned if I don't love stumbling across one of orange swan's posts. The inspiration for other projects is mindblowing.
posted by Science! at 9:26 PM on March 4, 2009

I am so horribly inept at anything crafty that I will gladly, GLADLY, work long boring hours learning stupid useless things that I will do for hours upon pointless hour so I can afford to pay the crafty people a nice wage for doing a crafty thing for me.

posted by The Whelk at 10:17 PM on March 4, 2009

In art school, I paid people to cut my mats, is what I'm saying.

granted I paid them in cafeteria points. You know how much weed a month's worth of cafeteria credits buys you?
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 PM on March 4, 2009

There's nothing better for comfy pajamas than the sheets that you loved dearly but finally split where your butt has rubbed them over the years. The easiest pattern possible: vaguely bottom-shaped bottoms, vaguely top-shaped tops and then cut off the excess. And speaking of which, if you have some serious excess in the sheet department, you can easily make a super-insulating comforter. Take all those extra plastic grocery sacks you've been holding onto (and you know you have them), get a decent strength paper shredder, and shred the plastic sacks - this is your filler. Put two sheets on the bottom and two sheets on the top, put in filler and level out the lumps, then start sewing your favorite pattern into it - instant comforter that will surprise you with it's insulative qualities.
posted by eclectist at 10:22 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like to cut up old linens and use them as washable paper towel replacements.
posted by orme at 4:16 AM on March 5, 2009

Another use for old sheets that I ran into but forgot to mention... you can sew them into what are basically large envelopes and use them for storing your winter blankets and comforters over the summer. They could also be made into garment bags.
posted by orange swan at 4:31 AM on March 5, 2009

...Dammit, I REALLY need to get a sewing machine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 AM on March 5, 2009

Sewing machines are very useful things to have. I recommend them for every household. If all you ever do is make curtains for wherever it is that you live (and curtains are very easy to make - they are just large rectangles), your sewing machine will have paid for itself. If you learn how to do basic mending and alterations, that'll save you a lot of money too. If you learn how to sew, the sky's the limit.

And sewing machines generally last a long time with proper care and maintenance — a lifetime, in fact. So if you don't think you'll use it a lot, get a used one.
posted by orange swan at 6:15 AM on March 5, 2009

I know something else you can use old linens for... no whites, though, can't use 'em.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:49 AM on March 5, 2009

Hey orange swan, got any links handy for someone who wants to learn how to operate one of them sewing machine thingies?
posted by orme at 8:46 AM on March 5, 2009

I found these links with a quick search, orme. It's also a good idea to read the instruction manual if there is one for the machine you're going to use.
posted by orange swan at 9:53 AM on March 5, 2009

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