Guest blogger series: Vintage sheets 101

by kath_red on 10/03/2011

in Guest Series 2011, Sewing+Fabric

I would love to welcome Jeni from incolororder to whipup today.

I’m Jeni! I’m finishing up my degree in Marketing and Studio Art in Northeast Ohio. I love to find ways to be creative everyday, whether it be through my photography, sewing, or my current favorite hobby, quilting! In addition to sewing, I love to collect vintage kitchenware and vintage sheets! :)

It’s been a rising trend over the last few years for sewers and quilters to sew with reclaimed vintage sheets! It’s a great alternative to quilting cottons that gives your projects a unique twist! Interested, but don’t know where to start?

I’ll walk you through the basics!

1. Identifying Vintage Sheets: Most vintage sheets are relatively thinner than new sheets because they have been washed so many times. This makes them super soft! Most of the sheets that I find are cotton polyester blends although there are some 100% cotton sheets out there as well.

2. Care: When I get home with an armful of vintage sheets, they go in the wash right away. I wash them with hot water using regular detergent and a generous scoop of Oxi-clean. This helps brighten them and get them super clean! I then dry on high. Once they’ve been pulled from the dryer I lay them flat on the bed to cool down. They don’t generally get too wrinkly because of the polyester.

3. Sewing: Sewing with vintage sheets is a lot of fun and not all that different from sewing with quilting cottons! They are a little slippery so extra pinning is helpful. Make sure you have a sharp new needle! Be mindful of what you’re sewing, since they’re lightweight you may need to use some light interfacing to add a little body!

4. Where to buy: I purchase all my vintage sheets from thrift stores! Here in the midwest it’s a sheet gold-mine! Check your local thrift stores often and find out when their sale days are for extra good deals! If you don’t want to buy entire sheets, there are a lot of sellers on Etsy that sell vintage sheet fat quarters, or by-the-yard!

I love sewing and quilting with vintage sheets. It’s a really satisfying feeling. First, the fabrics are super cheerful and sunny! Secondly, you’re recycling, you’re giving them a second chance to shine! To make something beautiful from something discarded is a wonderful thing!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny @ Kerrfect! March 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

I LOVE sewing with vintage sheets! I sew with vintage patterns a lot of the times and so it lets me have a whole new “vintage” piece if that makes sense. I even use vintage buttons, zippers, trim and sometimes thread. I also like them because they allow me to use the pretty and popular florals that I just can’t afford to buy at the store. 3 or 4 yards of a vintage rerpo print from JoAnn’s at $8 or $9 a yard adds up fast and I can usually get a set of full size for under $3!


2 Jocelyn March 10, 2011 at 9:52 am

I’m a follower of Jen’s blog. What a wonderful post. I love collecting vintage sheets, but they are getting really scarce here in the south.


3 jodi meenan March 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

What gorgeous eye candy you posted! I love sewing with vintage sheets/pillowcases, or just collect them to look at! Thanks for the Oxy-clean tip!


4 Southern Gal March 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I recognize some of those sheets from my own closet! My grandmother kept all her sheets and I now have them. One day I may be brave enough to sew something with them.


5 Crafty Caitlin March 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Love this post – will have to watch for them. Reminds me of the sheets my grandmother had!


6 Patty March 11, 2011 at 1:07 am

I shop at estate and garage sales all time time and somehow I always wind up with a set or two of vintage sheets. I love the colorful and bold patterns. Using these sheets has added a unique touch to a lot of my DIY projects because you just can’t find fabric like that in the stores today! Thanks for bringing this to light!


7 Kiki March 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I too recognize some of those sheets! My mom recently cleaned out her linen closet and many of those came to my house after I told her she definitely should not get rid of them. She couldn’t believe anyone would possibly want them.


8 electricbluebird March 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I have a HUGE stash of vintage sheets and pillowcases I’ve been collecting. Now that I’ve started quilting, its a treasure chest!


9 Wendy March 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

So funny. I have 5 of the sheets in that picture. I think I have a border-line addiction to them.


10 Terri May 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

What a great idea, vintage sheets are so pretty. I can add some of the pillowcases that my Grandma embroidered that have stains on them, but the stitching is still good. I can hardly wait to attack my linen closet! Thanks for such great tips and the idea to preserve some of my family treasures.


11 Pat December 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Hi Jeni~ I just did a search about vintage sheets and found this post.
First off, I found it very informative, so thank you.
Secondly, I have a couple of questions. I have recently started buying sheets to sell online, they are just as you described. Very soft to the touch, and pretty easy to find.
My question is, You mentioned buying ‘fat quarter’ sheets from sellers on Etsy; does this mean they’ve pre cut these vintage sheets for you? When selling and buying a vintage sheet, is it better to sell or purchase the whole sheet or the fat quarter?
Hope you get this…it would be very helpful. Thanks again, Pat


12 kath_red December 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Hi Pat

‘Fat quarters’ are pre-cut – 1/4 of a yard, many etsy sellers are pre-cutting vintage sheets into fat quarter sizes and selling them in bundles. Certainly it is much cheaper to purchase the whole sheet from a vintage/charity shop yourself, however if all you want a are small pieces then purchasing them from someone on etsy who has done all the hard work for you is a great option.



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