Great Fabric – Not Necessarily By-the-Yard

comments (3) July 25th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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Who would guess this jacket gets its pizazz from table napkins that I used for the side panels and the under sleeves?

Who would guess this jacket gets its pizazz from table napkins that I used for the side panels and the under sleeves?

Photo: Mary Ray

Now, I’m not advocating cutting up something precious just for the sake of changing it. Or investing in a costly tablecloth, let’s say, to convert to a quilt when fabric by-the-yard will do a better job. But, I am suggesting that you consider alternatives when collecting fabric. Like resale shops, for example. Think about all the pieces you could cut from a voluminous cotton circle skirt made from a gorgeous print. Or, check the sale bins in the linen shops and pick up those last three table napkins that are made from great, quality fabric and are now reduced to sell for a song.
I hate to reveal my age, but I’m old enough to remember when my grandmother collected printed feedsacks and recycled them into all sorts of things including her housedresses. (What’s a housedress? Well, I think of it as the precursor to today’s “mom jeans” – something you should wear in the privacy of your own home.) I don’t want to go back to the days of housedresses, but I wish I had some of those feedsacks today. Not because the fabric was so great – it was really pretty coarse in texture – but, the prints were interesting and I’d like a few for nostalgia’s sake.
I’ve recycled fabrics – new and old – and used them in my quilted clothing, everything from discarded garments to dishtowels and table napkins. Once I found four cotton batik napkins that were large enough to cut out whole side panels as well as the under sleeves (when I turned the pattern on the bias) and used them in a jacket together with some Marimekko fabric and some velvet.
A word of caution: Prewash anything you plan to recycle into something else – even if it says Dry Clean Only. And, especially, if it’s something you find at a resale shop. If the fabric’s going to fall apart, you want to find that out before you put hours of work into your project.


posted in: fabric

Comments (3)

ReFabulous writes: Gorgeous jacket! I never would have suspected napkins!
I love shopping the thrift stores for long skirts to get unique fabrics for my projects.
Posted: 11:54 pm on July 27th
trusk4u writes: I can't begin to tell you how bed sheets,bedspreads,throw rugs,etc. I have re-purposed. It's fun to think up new ways to use things! The jacket is really nice,very "couture" looking!
Posted: 1:51 pm on July 25th
clb707 writes: I have even used curtain fabric for projects that I couldn't find what I needed for what I was working on. And like you said, "got it for a song".
Posted: 1:28 pm on July 25th
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