We’ve all got one- a cupboard full of bedsheets whose best days are behind them. To throw them out would seem a shame (and in these days of eco-awareness, very possibly a crime).
Fortunately, there’s a score of ways you can repurpose and recycle those old sheets, whether it’s by turning them into a cozy comforter, using them to jazz up your clothes hangers, or even turning them into a funky laundry basket.
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with those worn-out sheets, you’re in the right place….
Even the newest, highest quality sheets can rip. Before you consign the entire bed set to the recycling bin, consider whether the torn sheet can be mended… something that in most cases, is not just possible but incredibly easy to boot. Grab a sewing machine (and yes, you will need one- hand sewing a smooth seam on a sheet is a task that’s likely to drive even the most experienced sewer to despair) and get started with this easy, step by step guide.
Pull the torn edges together (they should be close enough to touch but not so close that they make a fold) and hold them in place using a strip of clear sticky-back tape.
Set the sewing machine to a wide, short zigzag stitch (you want the stitches to be as close as they possibly can be without overlapping). Test the stitch on a piece of scrap fabric first if you’re at all uncertain.
Begin sewing around ½” before the start of the tear. Secure the seam by backstitching the first three stitches. Stitch along the length of the rip so that the threads of the zigzag are perpendicular to the tear.
Sew ¼” beyond the end of the tear, before backstitching three stitches to secure the end of the seam. Finish by removing the sticky back tape.
If you’re looking to extend the life of your sheets, there’s a world of possibilities out there… starting with sewing those old flat sheets together to make a cozy duvet cover. Not only does this give you a quick ‘n’ easy solution to the problem of an overflowing linen cabinet, it also gets you a new bed set in the process.
Ready to start? Then grab your gear and get going with this handy little guide.
Two flat sheets of the same size as the duvet.
Sew on Velcro (if you’re making a queen size cover, plan on using around 5”).
Wash and iron both sheets before getting started.
Cut out 5 pieces of fabric tape measuring 10” in length.
With the right side facing down, lay one sheet on the floor. Check it for size against the duvet – as you’ll be using sheets of the same size, both duvet and sheets should be roughly equal. If for any reason they’re not, trim the excess from the sheet but ensure it’s still around 1.5” longer than the duvet. Keep a note of the size difference for later.
Lay the second sheet on top of the first, with the wrong sides together. Referring back to the measurement you took in step 2, place a piece of folded fabric length that much down from the top of the sheet. Align the tape’s fold with the sheet side.
Layer the second sheet onto the first. The right sides of both sheets should be facing out. Press the tape to hold the sheets in place.
With the right sides of the fabric still facing out, sew a ¼” seam from the top end of the sheet all the way down its length. Once you reach the bottom corner, fold another piece of fabric tape in half and sew it into place. Continue to sew around the bottom and along the length of the sheet, leaving a ¼” seam and placing further pieces of folded fabric tape at the center, other bottom corner, and other top corner.
Once you’ve finished sewing the two lengths and bottom of the sheet, turn the sheet wrong side out to expose the fabric tape. Starting from the top corner, stitch a new 1/2” to 5/8” seam outside the edge of your first seam along both sides and the bottom.
Using the measurements from step 2, sew in from one side seam along the top of the duvet cover about 18” from each side. Repeat on the other side of the top of the sheet.
Sew fabric tape onto the same places on the duvet as are on the sheets.
Line up the bottom end of the duvet cover with the bottom end of the duvet and tie the corresponding fabric tapes together.
Reach into the opening of the duvet corner, aiming each arm towards each bottom corner. Pinch the attached corner of the duvet, and pull the duvet cover right side out by pulling your arms back out through the opening.
Tie the fabric tapes on the top corners of both the duvet and cover together, before pushing the duvet into the duvet cover corner and squaring the duvet cover in each corner.
Place one side of the Velcro around 12” from the opening on the right side of the duvet cover. Sew in place. Align the 2nd half of the Velcro on the opposite side of the opening and sew in place. Repeat the process two further times at equidistance along the opening. Use the Velcro to close the opening.
Crafting Tunic/ Smock – while a tunic made from an old bedsheet is unlikely to win you any fashion awards, it makes a great cover-up for wearing while cleaning, crafting, or otherwise doing something that may make you and your clothes a little messy. Simply cut a head-sized hole in the middle of the sheet, hem the rough edges, and voila- job done!
Picnic Blanket- tired of wasting your money on new picnic blankets? Then save your money and put those old sheets to good use by repurposing them as handy ground coverings. Sew two sheets together lengthwise using a French seam for the ultimate, family-sized blanket.
Tablecloth- while we aren’t suggesting you use your old sheets as tablecloths in your dining room, they make an excellent covering for picnic tables in the great outdoors. Fitted sheets are particularly great on this one – the elastic will keep them safely secured and stop any slippage.
Clothes – depending on the type of material and pattern the sheet is made from, there’s a world of possibilities for turning those old sheets into any manner of clothes. Whether it’s a sheet robe, a tunic, a pleated skirt, or a tank dress, the only limitation is your own imagination (and in some cases, a good pattern).
Quilt backing- providing your bed sheets aren’t riddled with holes, they make a great backing material for quilts. As bed sheets tend to be very tightly woven, prep the sheet first by washing with plenty of fabric softener to relax the fibers, and use a thin thread and a shorter stitch length when sewing to overcome the needle’s tendency to flex.
Looking to get crafty with your old sheets? Then check out these great little project ideas.
Come winter, anything that keeps us a little warmer has got to be a good thing- and heating pads are most definitely a “good thing”. Grab a sheet, some rice, and your sewing kit and prepare to get toasty.
What You’ll Need
A cotton bed sheet (make sure its 100% cotton- as the bag is intended for the microwave, you want to avoid anything containing synthetic materials)
Basic sewing materials (cotton thread, scissors)
What You’ll Do
Simply cut out a rectangle of cloth and sew shut on both sides, leaving the top open. Fill the pouch with rice and sew the gap closed. To use, simply pop in the microwave to heat.
This cute little laundry bag is easy to assemble, hugely practical, and costs next to nothing to make.
What You’ll Need
1 bedsheet cut to the required size
2 yards of 3/8” cording
What You’ll Do
Fold the fabric in half, right sides together.
Mark the open edge of the fabric about 2” down from the top (this will denote where you’ll need to stop sewing).
Sew a ½” seam along the base and the open length to create an open-topped bag. Once you reach the mark you made in step 2, backstitch to secure the seam.
At the bottom of the bag, make a mark about 4” from each corner. Place another mark 4” up from the first mark, and another mark 4” over from it. Connect the first and third marks to create a diagonal line. Sew along the length of the diagonal line and trim any excess to 0.5”.
Fold the edge of the top down using a 1/4” seam. Repeat on the other side.
Create the casing for the cord by folding and pressing the top over 1”. Repeat.
Sew along the folded casing, backstitching the first couple of stitches to secure. To reinforce the casing, stitch another line directly above the first.
Attach a safety pin to one end of the cord and push through one end of the casing until it comes out of the other side. Adjust the cording to suit before tying a small knot on each side of the cord to finish.
Need to find a use for those old bedsheets but don’t want to sew? Don’t worry too much, there’s plenty of ways to get crafty without threading a single needle, starting with this fabulous idea for the kid’s bedroom.
What kid wouldn’t love a cozy teepee to hide away in? Easy to assemble and as cheap as chips to boot, it’s a great, fun way of giving new life to those old bedsheets.
What You’ll Need
6 pieces of 8-foot 2 x 1 wood slices.
Hot glue gun.
An extra pair of hands.
What You’ll Do
Drill a hole in each of the 6 wooden planks just over three-quarters of the way up their lengths. Make sure the hole is in the same position on each plank.
Push a length of twine through each of the holes, stand the structure upright, and then tighten the twine to bring the planks together in an overlapping cluster.
Prepare the bedsheet by cutting it into 6 large triangles, each large enough to cover 1 of the 6 sections of the structure.
Heat the hot glue gun, then simply glue each piece of fabric to the wood.
Want to start a new project with old bedsheets but lack the main ingredient? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of places to get your hands on mounds of old bed linen. Thrift and second-hand stores are a great place to start, while online auction sites like eBay, the classified section in your local paper, Craigslist, and, for readers in the UK, Preloved.co.uk, are also good options.
Feel inspired to get to grips with those old bedsheets? If you know anyone else with a groaning linen cupboard and a passion for sewing, feel free to spread the word by sharing the post.