I buy old linen tablecloths at thrift stores and garages sales. Even if they have stains in them, most of the cloths are in good shape. I use them to make dresser scarves and sometime crochet edging on them. I am going to use some for the back side of the chair cushion I am making. The fabric is great. I also plan on to make some curtains with them. The uses for used tablecloths are endless and the price is right.
My daughters are both off to college this fall and I wanted to update their window treatments with something less juvenile, but couldn't find anything I could afford with all my college bills! But in the discount store, I found lace table cloths reduced to $3. They were long, 60 by 102 inches so I made Victorian-looking swags out of them.
I bought new ones because I had three windows to do, but I see tons of these at yard sales that would work, especially church sales where they're getting rid of old communion table cloths. It doesn't matter if they have holes or a few stains; you won't see those. Just remember, it has to be pretty long, at least 90 inches to bottom of the average windowsill.
No sewing. Total cost: nine bucks.
Approximate Time: 20 minutes
new or used lace tablecloth (the longer, the better)
ribbon or pearls on a string
trims, such as ribbon roses
First, you may want to measure around the outside of your window to get an idea of the length you need, from the bottom of the sill on one side, around the top and back down to the other sill. Write that measurement down and keep it in mind when you are looking for a lace tablecloth for this project.
Fold the cloth lengthwise and drape over the rod. Hang it up.
Now pull down each side of the cloth to the desired length. You will see a "valance" forming at the top.
Now pull the center of the valance down, and you will see the "swag" forming. Gather the center of the swag in your hand and bunch it up to the rod and secure it with matching or coordinating ribbon and tie in a bow. Or use a string of pearls, rick rack, yarn, etc. Attach ribbon roses, if desired.
You may also want to thread ribbon, as I did, through the curtain on each end of the rod and tie each into a bow to secure it better, depending on how much activity will be going on around the window.
You can stop here, or you can pull back each side of the curtain by threading a ribbon sort of randomly through each side, and securing with hooks or tacks. Threading the ribbon through gives it a more "flowing" look, as opposed to just tying it up. But that's up to your taste.
As I was admiring my own work, I thought it might have been nice to "tea stain" the swags. This would be helpful if your table cloth has several stains.
I imagine almost everyone has a couple of round tablecloths stashed in a drawer someplace. If you don't have any, they can be found at thrift stores in abundance, and sometimes after a holiday, they can be bought for very little money.
You can make 2 cute valences by cutting a round tablecloth in half, then leaving at least 2 inches for the rod pocket on the cut edge, then using iron on tape to finish your valence, or if you sew, sew a rod pocket.
It's easy to make your own Christmas tree skirt by using a tablecloth also. Fold and find the center, mark, then cut a straight line to your center mark, then iron on bias tape on the raw edges and you can add Velcro or ties to close the skirt in back of your tree.
You can also make a fireplace mantle treatment, by cutting your cloth in half, then finishing the cut edges with iron on bias tape.
If you sew, you can make a cute circle skirt by cutting out the center per your waist size, then cutting down from the small circle cut out at center, which would be about 6-8 inches, or enough to allow you to get the skirt over your head, then add 2 cute ribbon ties, Velcro, snaps, buttons, or sew in a zipper.
Have fun! Use your imagination for recycling those round tablecloths!
*** Tips for finding and using old tablecloths as fabric as posted from the ThriftyFun community.
Look At Garage Sales
If you sew, a great way to find cheap fabric is to look at garage sales for tablecloths. Even if they have a stain or two, there will be plenty of good fabric for you to use for other projects. Tablecloths come in a variety of thicknesses, sizes and patterns so you can find fabric for a variety of projects.
Look For Linen
I buy old linen tablecloths. I cut them into four pieces. Then stamp them and embroider. Hemmed, they are a great Christmas gift.
If you find lovely old tablecloths with bad stains or holes, get them anyway. The fabric from "vintage" tablecloths is better than anything you can buy today and you can make a beautiful full or half apron for yourself or to give as gifts.
Other Fabric Recycling Techniques
I have a 3 year old granddaughter and have made some of the finest clothes for her from a bag of my old clothes that I was going to donate to the thrift store. I've recycled buttons of course, but also taken expensive lace from my nighties and the like to use in the making of pretty dresses for her as a baby and now as a 3 year old. I may even use the top neckline or keep the button front intact in my old garment to make sewing her garment easier. You can use the bottom portion of an already hemmed dress so you don't need to hem the dress you are making for your child. This makes sewing an outfit for your child just that much faster! I had one long floral gauze dress, and from that one dress, I made 3 different outfits for her! Two dresses and one cute lacy top. Three beautiful outfits all made from just one recycled dress ready for the "junk pile".
Don't throw out your unwanted clothes without using your imagination to rethink these clothes into children's clothes. You only need basic sewing skills & a good imagination. It's so easy to scale down adult dresses for babies & little girls. Simply take your old dresses or tops & lay a top of her size (or a pattern her size) onto the one you're using for fabric this is your "pattern".
For boys, why not recycle your old jeans and sweatshirts to make jeans and sweatshirts for them. Keep the front and back neckline ribbing intact and just cut it down to his size.
With the price of fabric these days, it's well worth the effort and if you make a mistake, well you were going to throw it out anyway, so there's no loss. It's fun to see what you can come up with and some of my granddaughter's favorite outfits came from my old clothes! Waste not - Want Not.
Many years ago one of my college classmates made a project of sewing a new wardrobe over the summer. She received or purchased at a substantial discount a large number of lovely floral tablecloths.
Every time I saw her, she looked like she was wearing a tablecloth. This was not a reflection of her prowess as a seamstress, but her choice of fabric pattern. Long story made short, you don't want to be walking around wearing a tablecloth. Ask a disinterested party what they think of your choices.
Thrift stores are a great source for evening and bridal wear. I recently saw in the window of a thrift store a wedding gown, complete with veil and undergarments, for $30.00. It's a great way to get yards of expensive fabrics, laces, beads, sequins, etc... for practically nothing! (09/12/2007)
Larger tablecloths can be cut in half and narrowhemmed on the raw edges. Then purchase clip on curtain rings or stitch on rings at regular intervals across the two panels and put on round rod and use as window curtains. A teacloth can be folded on the diagonal and a pocket sewen for a rod across the wide end of the resulting triangle to use as a valance, this looks particularly nice in a kitchen, but no reason why lace tablecloths could not be used in other rooms. (09/13/2007)
Tablecloths make wonderful place mats and dish towels because they launder easily. They also make good curtains for kitchen and bathroom windows. I think the patterns would be appropriate for those rooms. If anyone still uses an apron, that fabric would be wonderful for that purpose as well. (09/14/2007)
By Carol in PA
RE: Tablecloths for Fabric
For years I've used discount table cloths for household sewing. Look for end of season markdowns for seasonal table cloths to make quick curtains, table runners, napkins, carry-all bags , my grandson's bedroom curtains, shower curtains or pillows for almost nothing. I've found 80 x 120 or so for less than $5.00. The fabric is excellent and versatile, for so many items. (09/14/2007)
Lace tablecloth repair
Does anybody know how to repair an old Lace tablecloth? (04/04/2008)
RE: Tablecloths for Fabric
Linen tablecloths make fabulous costume fabrics. Everything from Biblical to Renaissance to Pirate gear needs white or off white linen shirts, wimples, aprons, mantles and basic robes. Wash and wear without ironing for a rustic look. They drape beautifully and look authentic - no polyester shine! Be sure to pre-wash in hot water before making a garment or it might shrink after being made into a costume. (04/19/2010)