27 Green Uses for Vintage Linens
Upcycle vintage linens with these 27 project ideas. Learn why you need to buy that linen piece you found at the thrift store or garage sale. These crafts from recycled vintage linens are for every skill level and will make a unique, thoughtful and one-of-a-kind gift.
Linen is a remarkable and rare natural fibre. It’s more durable than cotton. It’s stain-resistant and soil-resistant. Antique linens are also lint-free. Heirloom linen can be found in thrift shops, second-hand stores, estate sales, auctions, and antique malls. It has a unique crispness, which the trained hand can feel. Cool to the touch, if you squeeze it, it responds with defined wrinkle lines. Unless it is pressed a folded edge will be curved and springy. Yes, you need to iron it if you want to put it on a table and see the shiny, exquisite surface glow in the candlelight. But it doesn’t need to be ironed for every purpose. Antique textiles can be family heirlooms or vintage treasures found at garage sales, thrift shops, flea markets, or antique stores. You might even find antique linen on Etsy.
Two kinds of linen fabrics
In this article, I’m not speaking generically about linen to mean any household textile, but rather the specific household textiles made from fibres of the flax plant. There are two types of vintage linen but many weaves of linen. Linen is the exquisite long fibres combed from fibre flax stocks that are put through a tortuous and elaborate process to release their treasured fiber. Tow linen is the discarded shorter fibres that are a waste product of hackling the longer linen fibres. Technically tow is not linen, as linen by definition is a fibre that is at least 12 inches long. But the definition of linen has changed drastically since 2008. Today most vintage linen will still be made from the longer linen fibres and will retain all the amazing qualities found in linen. New linen may no longer be of this high quality. Reputable linen shops like the Irish Linen shop in Victoria, BC (one of my most favourite stores) will be able to advise you on your purchase of new linen.
Qualities of linen
- Soil resistance
- Wicks moisture
- Bleaches and disinfects in sunshine
- Crisp hand
- Beautiful and sensual
- Generally chemical-free
- Nontoxic when burned
- Cool to the touch
How to clean old linen
To clean old linen, first, check for soundness. Don’t try to wash antique linen that might be compromised. Antique linen of great value should be cleaned by a curation professional in fabric restoration. But if your linen is sound, with no holes or weakness, and you intend to actually use it, just put it in the washing machine in your light-coloured load. If there are stains, many can be removed by adding a ½ cup of washing soda to the wash and then hanging the linen on a clothesline in full sun. Sunlight naturally disinfects and whitens linen fabric. Polyesters tend to hang on to their stains but linen releases stains. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can flood the stained area with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. Dab a little baking soda on the stain, brush into the fibres with a soft toothbrush and let it sit for an hour. Then launder as usual. This should release the stains.
Use them as table linens
Use them as they were intended in your home
Linen table cloths and napkins are unlike any other household linen. They get better and softer with repeated washings. They continue to iron up crisply with a sheen that only linen displays. If you are blessed with heritage linens from your grandmother or mother, use them. And be delighted that your thoughtful relatives kept them for you. You can’t get linen-like old linen anymore.
If you plan to use old linen tablecloths on your dining room table, you’ll want to iron them. Iron with a steam iron on the hottest setting – the linen setting. Spritz the fabric with a natural linen spray. (You can find the recipe that I use here.). The wrinkles will disappear like magic, leaving behind a smooth, sheen on the surface.
Repurpose vintage linens as household linens
Replace disposable paper napkins with linen napkins
Thrift store linen napkins can be found for 25 cents to $1 per napkin. A matching set of 4 or 8 napkins at an antique mall might set you back $8 to $16 and up to $25. The higher-priced napkins will be linen Damask, an exquisite weave that has a design in satin weave offset by a matt surface. The design will repeat on the back of the napkin, but what was shiny on the top surface will be matt on the back and vice versa. In double damask, both designs will be shiny. Expect to pay more for heavy damask linens. Damask is woven with the highest quality of linen threads and by expert weavers. They are beautiful and feel wonderful. They were very popular as wedding gifts 100 years ago – expect to see more of them in thrift shops as the younger generation discard their ancestors’ heirloom linen. Their loss is your gain because you now know their value. Modern linens can’t come close to matching the quality and longevity of vintage linens.
You’ll notice with damask weave napkins that the pattern on the napkin is a miniature version of the larger pattern on the table cloth. Matching napkin and tablecloth sets in vintage linen are worth a lot. A new set will cost several hundred dollars, while a vintage set in good condition is worth even more, because of the higher quality found in the older linen. Please don’t cut up a beautiful set in good condition for any of these projects. Use them instead on your own table or give them as a gift to someone you love. But if you have stray napkins or damaged tablecloths, the remainder of this article is for you.
Cut damaged linen table cloths into smaller napkin size pieces – hem with a machine stitch and the tablecloth will have new life.
Use old linen as tea towels
The Edwardian maids and butlers cleaned their household glasses and silverware exclusively with linen cloths. Long fibered table linens are lint-free. Lower quality tow linen, woven from the shorter waste linen fibres, will be linty but very absorbent. Larger dinner napkins are the perfect size to be used as tea towels. Larger damaged tablecloths can be cut into smaller sizes, hemmed, and used as tea towels, as well. Don’t be hesitant to repurpose linen as tea towels. Linen towels will outlive their cotton counterparts by many years if they are made from the longer, quality linen fibres.
On the other hand, most modern linen towels, have been cottonized, so that they can be easily blended with cotton fibres and processed on the same machines that are used for cotton. Cottonized linen has been mechanically and chemically treated to shorten and weaken the linen fibres. It lacks the longevity and wear of older linen. If you are buying new linen towels be sure that you are getting real long-fibered linen and not cottonized linen.
Get rid of disposable products with old linen replacements
Turn old linens into handkerchiefs – get rid of the Kleenex® box
Linen is the most natural fibre to use for handkerchiefs. It is lint-free and won’t increase airborne allergens. It can be sterilized with an iron. It is stain-resistant and isn’t easily damaged by hard washing. It can be sanitized in sunlight. You can simply repurpose table napkins into handkerchiefs, but a better strategy is to cut an older tablecloth, one of the finer woven ones, into 12-inch squares and hem them. A new linen handkerchief today will set you back $25. But you can make dozens from a single table cloth. I regularly find linen tablecloths in the $4 to $10 range at thrift shops here in British Columbia.
Replace your paper towel roll with linen cloths
Linen is super absorbent. It is lint-free. You can increase its absorbency by doubling up the layers or backing a linen layer with a layer of towelling, for big spills. Simply cut out rectangles that are sized for the paper towels that you like to use – 10 x 14 or 10 x 7 are popular sizes. Put two layers of linen or a layer of linen and a layer of towelling together. Stitch with an overlock stitch to secure the edges. Press and they are ready for use. You can roll them in a paper towel roll by affixing snap closures or buttons and buttonholes to either side of each towel and roll them on your paper towel rack. Or just leave them in a basket. Find the pattern here.
Replace your plastic wrap with wax impregnated linen napkins or rectangles cut from old table linens
Old linens are usually dye-free and bleach-free. Older linens were bleached with washing soda and sunlight. They don’t give off dioxins nor formaldehyde and are free of BPA. You can safely use them for food wraps. Impregnate hemmed linen cloths or napkins with melted beeswax and allow to dry. They can be used in place of plastic wrap for food storage. Use the tutorial here to create beeswax wraps from your vintage tablecloths.
Sandwich bags from old linen
Wax impregnated linens can be sewn into sandwich bags and snack sacks
Wax your flat linen fabric and then make a sandwich bag by Folding and stitching. The bag can be closed with a button closure. This makes a nontoxic eco-friendly lunch bag.
But even without the wax, linen keeps your snacks fresh by absorbing moisture. See if a drawstring sandwich bag works for you. The ideal size is 4 x 6 inches.
Reusable lunch bags
A few years ago sewing reusable lunch bags out of plastic table cloth sheeting (aka fake oil cloth) was popular. I made a couple. But they smelled strongly of vinyl and weren’t exactly healthy and eco-friendly. Just cutesy. You can use heavy damask linen instead and make a reusable lunch bag that you’d be proud to take to work. It is lightweight, reusable, eco-friendly, biodegradable, and green. It can be flattened to carry home in your purse or computer bag. Close with a pretty upcycled button and a decorative buttonhole. Use this pattern but cut it out of heavy linen canvas or damask instead of plastic.
Reusable produce bags
Linen is better than plastic because it naturally absorbs moisture and then releases it back into the food. It also keeps the food cool. It’s naturally antibacterial. Stitch up some reusable produce bags from thinner linen tablecloths or table runners, to take to the farmer’s market and the grocery store. Lighter-weight tablecloth fabric won’t significantly increase the weight of your produce at the scale and will save plastic bags. Linen is breathable and long-lasting. Make them last for years with French seams. Ideal sizes: 5 x 8 inches, 9 x 12 inches, 14 x 16 inches, and 20 x 14. You can decorate them with iron-on pictures or stamp them with fabric paints to make them prettier. Linen takes dyes and fabric paints well.
Wrap your produce according to produce type when you get it home from the market, using linen bags and beeswax impregnated squares for longevity.
Reusable bread bag
I’ve been looking for a solution for plastic bread bags that didn’t involve resurrecting my wooden bread box to the countertop. I think I’ve found it. People have been using linen to store bread for years. Linen is naturally antibacterial. It is breathable. Linen bread bags work by absorbing moisture and releasing it back into the bread, keeping your bread from drying out. Stitch up a reusable bread bag with the drawstring closure for storing your homebaked bread and artisan sourdough bread. Use French seams and you’ll create a bread bag to use over and over again for years and years. These make lovely wedding gifts, too. And with the drawstring, you can even hang your loaves out of the way. Suggested sizes: 13 x 15 for rolls and artisan bread, and 7 x 25 inches for baguettes.
Here’s a tutorial to get you started on Attainable Sustainable.
Wrap a gift
Gift wrap – use linen and ditch the disposable wrapping paper
A square linen napkin makes exquisite gift wrap. Use Furoshiki gift wrapping techniques and wow your friends with gift wrap they can use again, like a tea towel, or napkin. Wrap smaller gifts in cocktail napkins or wrap larger gifts in vintage sheets or pillow cases. These equisite gift wraps can be used again and again.
Make gift bags
Because linen is a natural fiber it takes dyes, fabric paints, and other fabric embellishment techniques very well. You can decorate your vintage linen fabric and then sew gift bags that can be reused year after year. Consider repurposing vintage linen with embroidered embellishments for this project and give some new life to another woman’s labour of love. Use your artistry and save $$. Dollar store gift bags are $1 to $4 each here in Canada and a single vintage table cloth can make dozens of gift bags that can be reused year after year.
Make a gift
Heirloom linen that’s been handed down generation after generation can be repurposed as gifts for grandkids, nieces, and nephews. Create a sewing project that utilizes heirloom linen for toys or comfort gifts to help younger members of the family remember relatives that are no longer with us.
Make a teddy bear
A stitched teddy bear made from grandma’s table cloth can share the blessings around the family tree. For this, you’ll need to find a teddy bear pattern in a book or online. Teddy bears stitch up quickly and can be made as simple or as elaborate as you have time for. Jointed legs, embroidered features, and personal embellishment can create an heirloom bear from heirloom linen. Find pattern books at your local library oron Amazon.
Make a rag doll
One of the most difficult things about making a rag doll is finding appropriate flesh-toned fabric for the doll’s body. Vintage linen is often the perfect colour already, but you can make it less white by staining it with tea, coffee, or cocoa before you cut out the body shape. Embroider a face and a heart and create beautiful clothes out of fabric scraps. Find pattern books at your local library or on Amazon.
Make a heating pad/comfort bag
One linen napkin is big enough to make a neck heating pad/comfort bag and a pair of hand warmers. Fold the linen napkin along the long edge in thirds. One third will be two hand warmers and the other two-thirds is folded in half and stitched for a neck heating pad. Follow the directions here. Fill with rice or flaxseed.
Make a baby sunbonnet
Baby sunbonnets were traditionally made from handkerchief linen. Here are the instructions to make a baby bonnet out of a linen handkerchief.
Make a bed pillow sham
Remember grandma with a pillow sham from her table cloth or use embroidered dresser scarves for this sewing project. Size it to the pillow inserts available at your local bed and bath store. Embellish it with embroidered names and dates on the back. You can print the linen fabric with a picture or one of grandma’s colloquialisms, before stitching. The materials that you need to print on fabric with your inkjet printer are readily available and easy to use.
Bandages for your first aid kit
Before sticky bandages and sterile gauze became readily available, women used to tear linen cloth into strips and roll it into bandages. Linen was the fabric of choice because it could be sterilized by boiling or ironing, it was lint-free and wouldn’t infect a wound, and it was naturally antibacterial. During WW1 women at home tore up old linen bed sheets and tablecloths and sent the bandages to the war front to help in the war effort. The longer linen fibres are less likely than cotton to stick to a wound but to gently remove it, soak it in warm water before lifting it off a scab.
Use it as a sling
Cut a 40-inch square and keep it in your first aid kit to be used as a sling. Linen is ideal for sling material because it is non-stretchy and will help to immobilize a broken or sprained arm or wrist.
Decorate with vintage linens
Make café curtains
The large, expansive linen tablecloths are seamless and offer ample fabric for café curtains. Add a cheerful gingham strip along the bottom, to add weight and colour, and make them hang well.
Convert old linens into accent pillows
Much of the old linen I’m finding in thrift shops is stiff linen pieces already stamped with embroidery patterns. Often, these natural beige pieces were never attempted or never completed. The linen is beautiful, and the embroidery stamping will wash off. You can embroider the stamped pattern, embroider your own pattern, or leave them plain. They make the perfect canvas to add your own personal touch in patchwork, fabric stamping, heirloom sewing, embroidery, or applique. You can sew it into a pillow by seaming up three sides, stuffing, and then sewing the fourth side closed. Or you can make a pillow slip by overlapping fabric at the back of the cushion and leaving it open to insert a pillow form. Linen is naturally soil resistant and long-wearing. A well-made accent pillow will last for many years.
Make an ironing board cover
Linen is the ideal ironing board cover because it isn’t damaged by the highest heat of an iron. Most ironing board covers today are made of cotton that has been coated with toxic flame retardants to prevent them from scorching. They are padded with toxic plastic foam. Plastic releases toxins when heated. On the other hand, Linen is naturally scorch-resistant. To make an ironing board cover put wool batting or cut a damaged wool blanket to size, between two pieces of linen and insert a pocket for elastic around the outer edge. Size it to fit your ironing board.
Wear old linens
Make a child’s sundress
Linen is cool in summer. It wicks moisture away from the skin. It gets softer with each washing. Older linens have already been conditioned and make exquisite summer clothes. Choose a tablecloth that is showing some wear and tear and cut around the worn spots for a lovely child’s sundress. If you have vintage embroidered linen pieces, consider using them in this project, and giving new life to another woman’s labour of love.
Make an heirloom nightgown
Linen nightgowns are the perfect foil for heirloom sewing techniques like pintucks, gathers, lace, and embroidery. Turn a soft linen tablecloth into an heirloom nightgown for summertime wear. For an adult nightgown, you may require two tablecloths of similar weight. A child’s nightgown can be sewn from a single tablecloth. Again with this sewing project, consider using some of the pretty embroidered pieces and giving new life to another woman’s handwork.
Make an apron
Many of the tourist linens from Belgium, France, Holland, and Ireland are printed in bold prints and never used. These are sturdy fabrics and can be used in gathering aprons and harvest aprons. Find them in your local thrift store or flea market.
Make artist canvas
Fine art canvases are often made from evenly woven linen canvas, stretched on a frame, and then primed with gesso to prepare it for paint. While many vintage linen tablecloths will be too fine for this application, heavier linen canvases such as linen towelling and linen canvases will work well. Consider creating a work of art from the fibre arts of the past.
This is just a shortlist of all the wonderful projects that can be made out of vintage linen napkins, tablecloths, handkerchiefs, towels, and other beautiful artisanal embroidered work that you find in your local thrift store, second-hand shop, or antique store, or maybe just in Great Grandma’s linen closet. While you won’t want to cut up that double damask tablecloth with 8 matching napkins that Great Grandma has been saving for a special occasion since her wedding, for the other, not so special vintage linen pieces these are creative ways to give new life to old linens. I’ve got a few of these projects on my list already. For more ideas check out my Pinterest board dedicated to new uses for vintage linens.
L Finlay says
I am filled with joy! Covid has me baking Sourdough bread for sanity and now those loaves will be wrapped in bags of linen left to me by my mom! This will make my special deliveries of warm bread so much more special! I will for sure be making some pillow cases too. So inspiring!
I believe in synchronicity & this post is very timely. My mother just gifted my sister & myself a set of embroidered linen pillowcases & an embroidered linen towel each. My mum & my aunt actually wove the pillowcases & towels & then embroidered them, to put away in their “glory boxes”. (Being Italian, they each had one “. The linens are at least 70 years old. One pillowcase had a slight yellow tinge on it, but I soaked them in warm water & a bit of nappy cleaner, rinsed them by hand & hung them out in bright sunshine & they have whitened up beautifully. I need to iron them, of course, but i can’t wait to use them. I won’t be sleeping on the pillowcases, but i have spare pillows & they’ll be used for “decorative purposes only. I truly love “old linen”.
Thank you for this wonderful post & I’ll definitely be using the lavender linen spray.
Hello, Great article. I have a few questions I hope you can help me. Do you know what some old linens have buttonholes but no buttons? Is it for a canopy bed? Also what do you think of Bella Notte linens? Do you think the quality is good? I find vintage linens fascinating and I love to sleep on linen sheet as well. Thank you for this great piece.
I think they were attached to the upper buttons of a shirt, instead of tucking into the neck of a shirt.
Hello, the antique linens with buttonholes can be found here in Germany under the name „ueberschlaglaken“ (fold over sheet). It was used as a sheet which was folded over a blanket or thin duvet for cooler nights. The top was folded over and either buttoned on to the blanket or the top fold buttoned to the underside buttonholes using double buttons ( two buttons sewn together“
Victoria Richmond says
Spurred by a sudden desire to understand what my mother called oilcloth in describing the unseemly flat she & my father inhabited when they were first married: “I was pregnant. It was terrible! I couldn’t bear it! Third floor in an ugly boarding house. There was oilcloth on the table. Oilcloth, for god’s sake! Can you imagine? I hated everything about that place. I had to run away!” And she did. Run away. And didn’t come back until his parents bought them a real house of their own where my mother was finally able to bring out her sterling silver & linen hope chest contents and begin to entertain family and friends with pride.
The original oilcloth research led me to your wonderful linen articles, which have inspired me to get back to the thrift shops as soon as Covid-19 lets up. Thanks for the chance to learn something new!
mary jack says
Thank you for sharing your ideas. With ironing linen (and silk), I take them straight out of the washer and iron them while wet. This way they don’t revert to creases while hanging in the cupboard. Give it a go and see what you think.
Beth Checkley says
Thank you for inspiration! I am moving, and paring down things I never use. I was ready to discard mother’s, grandmother’s and great grandmother’s table linens until I read your blog. Now I am packing them up, and ready to repurpose them in my new home. Thank you!
Nancy Werner says
I have inherited what appear to be nice linens but I don’t really know. Where would I go to get an estimate of their value?
I don’t want to cut up something that I should be taking care of!
Hello. Very interesting information. Could I use an oblong linen tablecloth as a travel wrap?
I don’t know why it took me several years of fruitlessly searching thrift stores for vintage linen sheets of long-fibred linen, before the penny dropped and I realized that many of the old, discarded tablecloths were washed soft and quite long and wide enough for a single bed sheet. Obviously, even the very few people who set tables for more than 12 do not want to iron the tablecloths (I can remember my mother in the 60s not ironing tablecloths!), They’re better quality than most of the extremely expensive linen sheets currently available and by far the most comfortable summer covers I’ve ever used. A little heavier than a cotton sheet, but not warmer. I was surprised that you didn’t recommend this reuse. But I’m very happy about the variety of projects above and looking forward to trying some.
I like linen I just think it is scratchy. How do you make it soft enough for a gown or sheets!
Joybilee Farm says
Washing usually makes it soften up. 5 to 10 washes and it will be soft like an old tablecloth.
where should i sell/ give away linens?
Any thrift store will accept donations. That’s where I buy all my old linen.
I need to do some mending to some vintage (1950s) linen tablecloths, napkins and tea towels. They are just hems and minor holes that can be done by hand. I need to know what to use for thread. I have no linen pieces that I can take threads from. Should I be using cotton thread? Or is there something better to use? Thanks for any answers and help
Joybilee Farm says
Cotton thread works just fine.
Thank you, for educating me about Damask, i have been
wonder why i find vintage damask table cloths that were never
used, Linda in Oklahoma 😉 ;0
I love linen bath towels. Is there any reason I could not repurpose my old linen table clothes.
Ollie Missouri says
When I sleep on Linen sheets & in my Linen nightgown/pjs, I feel like royalty. I seem to have better dreams. I know when the menopause hot flashes come around later on Linen in the remedy. I had to buy my parents a set of linen sheets. Give a set to my sisters & brothers too. Linen is…. to me Fabric of the gods & godesses.
Mary Holmes says
I loved these embroidery design patterns all the way! Thanks for sharing.
I have a beautiful 36×36 square piece of vintage linen with crocheted corners (daisies) and would like to make a baby blanket out of it. Would this be feasible? I’m thinking
I could, but is there anything I need to watch for besides my just applying a backside with some kind of thin batting in between? DJ
I have just stumbled upon your blog and cannot tell you how much I love it. I love linen (as much as silk and wool), and I am very excited to see that there are many of us around who appreciate its value and beauty.
I live in Canada, and linen tends to be expensive here. I go to Home Sense/Winners or second hand shop whenever I need a fix. I would not trade my linen bed sheets or table cloths for anything in this world. I wear linen all the time. Same goes for wool/silk. Once you wear a natural fibre, you never go back. I don’t understand people who are surrounded by polyester in their homes, clothes (workout gear!! how gross!!!) or their shoes…. No price would convince me! What’s better than tucking yourself in at night in linen sheets that have dried naturally in the sun that same day???
Anyway, thank you for your beautiful blog.
Joybilee Farm says
Nice to meet you, Mihela. Check out places like “Bibles for Missions” or “Salvation Army Thrift Stores” for treasures in Canada. There aren’t as many as there used to be, but when you find some it’s wonderful and usually super cheap. No one wants to iron linens anymore.
It is best to simply ignore stains and continue using your linens as usual. The stains will be gone after a couple of washings and eventually even if you don’t wash it at all. Linen is constantly taking in AND releasing moisture so it’s constantly being “rinsed”, just by being used. It’s not like cotton. It doesn’t hang onto the stuff that gets in it. Linen is alive and active and it doesn’t do well when it’s stashed away and seldom used. It WANTS to be used and it can truly take care of itself. It isn’t the sun that bleaches linen. It’s the constant absorbing and evaporating moisture. Even in the driest climates, you can feel the activity of the life in it in its coolness. The best thing you can do for your linen is use it.
Buy two yards of 60″ natural linen, pink the raw ends, clip off the corners and wash it in hot water with a teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s soap but no fabric softener – toss it over the shower curtain rod to “dry” and then toss it on the couch or bed and use it as an everyday throw. And if you get sick, wrap yourself up in it and go to bed. Wrap a fussy or colicky baby in it. If you’re depressed, wrap up in it. It’s like being held close by your grandmother. – Not your fussy mother, but your GRANDmother. Linen is an awesome, living thing. It’s the mother of the seed. It takes away the yucky stuff and delivers the living water – unlike cotton which IS the seed and takes and takes and takes without giving anything back.
Joybilee Farm says
I can’t express to you how much I love what you just said. Thanks so much. “Like being held close by your grandmother.” Wow! This made my week!
Ollie Missouri says
You on point. Got my Linen sheets from Pottery Barn. However in the beginning they were great. However over 7 years The bottom sheet got holes now. Top sheet is ok. This Pottery Barn not sure the quality of their linens. Help me find a better linen sheet.
Terry Braddy says
Has anyone had experince wirh using 2 multiple 120″ linen tablecloths into king sheet sets. Seam would definitely have to be dead center. I have to get thesr t/c into use.
Hilda W. says
I have no actual experience, but I have read in Regency romance novels that custom wide bedsheets were often made of one piece of wide fabric used as the center of the bedsheet and a second wide fabric piece would be split down the center and sewn to either side of the center fabric.
Hilda W. says
As wear appeared the seams were removed and the fabric was turned so that the worn spots were at the edges and resewn. This is why all the women of the household did what was called plain sewing.
Hilda W. says
Eventually, the main center part would also be split down the center and used as side pieces to another center.
Sharon Emmerling says
I have a couple of Lands’ End linen blouses that I want to repurpose. This is not the kind of linen referred to here (table linens), but what can I do with these shirts? They need to be cut up into usable parts as the fabric near the armhole has shredded and collars and cuffs are frayed. I hate to throw the nice parts away! I’ve already cut off the buttons.
Joybilee Farm says
You certainly can repurpose your linen shirts. You’ll want to finish the edges with a rolled hem, as the linen will fray on washing. If they are dyed with dark colours you won’t want to use them in direct contact with food, as the dyes sometimes leach out with the acidity in food. You can use the fabric any way that you would use linen table linen other than that.
A friend wants to make a tablecloth using old linen napkins connected by lace strips – I can’t think how to tell her to do it. Have you ever done this?
Joybilee Farm says
I haven’t ever done it, but the principle would be just like doing a strip quilt top. The linen napkins may vary in size so she’d need to figure out how she was going to compensate for that variance. All the napkins should be preshrunk and pressed before she begins.
Love these ideas! I’m definitely going to try the waxed linens.
Something I need in my kitchen is pot holders – do you have any thoughts on repurposing old linens as pot holders? I have an assortment of linen tea towels, table runners, placemats, and damask linen napkins & table cloths.
Also, have you ever dyed your old linens – esp. using natural dyes (onion skins, etc.)?
Thanks so much!
mary kathleen jack says
best thing for pot holders is old woollen jumpers, shrink in a hot wash then cut to shape
So, as a younger person who’s not had really any experience with linen, do you have any tips for identifying genuine old linen at a thrift store?
Joybilee Farm says
Check out this post: http://joybileefarm.com/characteristics-of-linen-textiles/
Deanna Furrey says
Thank you for this post. 🙂 I cannot understand why linen is not more widely used, with all the wonderful properties it has!
Ollie Missouri says
I wonder too. When I sleep on my Linen sheets. I feel like royalty.