More Upcycled Projects

With the weather outside not something I wanted to experience I stayed indoors yesterday and worked on more projects from my stash of fabrics.  What is better on a cold winter day that to work on a new blanket.  This one used a vintage tablecloth and an old blanket.  I spotted this tablecloth a few months ago and had to  have it.  First it was in my favorite color, but that wasn’t the real reason.  This tablecloth brought back memories of my grandparents and the simple tablecloths they used every day.  There was one that was always on the dining room table, but there was another on the small drop-leaf table in the kitchen as well.  This was where friends would sit and enjoy a cup of tea when dropping in unannounced and where my grandfather sat to read the afternoon paper when returning home for work.

Friends would notice the tiny mends my grandmother carefully stitched to preserve the life of her tablecloths.  These were often noticed by the watchful eye of a friend who rather than look down on the fact my grandparents had repaired it would instead remark on the lovely job she did and how unnoticeable it was.  This was the generation I grew up with, people who believed in repairing what they owned and taking pride in their work.  When I spotted this tablecloth, sure it was the color that drew my attention first, but then it was the carefully mended spots, worn from age, which had me longing to display it in my home… and for $1 I couldn’t resist.


A mended hole which reminded me of my grandmother’s handiwork.

This all cotton tablecloth had original imperfections which didn’t seem to bother the previous owner.  You can see here where the fabric hadn’t been blocked properly before applying the design.


I had an old fleece blanket that I didn’t like but it was perfect to use as the batting instead of purchasing new polyester batting as wool is hard to find and expensive here.  Again, this is how the past generations made quilts, they used old blankets as the batting.


Today, when not being used, it drapes over the back of the futon couch.   Ignore my son’s notebook and laptop as he was visiting to work with me at the time I took this photograph.


I also finished a few of the napkins. Since the thread was free these worked out to approximately $0.01 each. Not bad really.  There were some vintage fabrics which I took a chance and included in the fabrics I bought, I’m glad I did as these were the first ones the children noticed.

The little ones wanted their picture taken with their napkins.

The little ones wanted their picture taken with their napkins.

I worked with the fabrics I could use the same thread on so there are still darker fabrics left to finish, the little one are thrilled to have 30 napkins to take home.  They wanted me to take pictures of their favorites and seeing how excited they were to see them photographed I thought I would share them with you.

I only found one of this panel but the little one wanted it because she loved the flowers which reminded her of her own garden.


This vintage fabric I had a large enough piece of to make several for both granddaughters.


Another one which reminds me of a Holly Hobby doll, never owned one so maybe it is her? I only found a small piece of this fabric but thought the girls would like it. I made them each two small napkins perfect for a snack or sandwich which doesn’t call for a large napkin.


I have no idea why this fabric was pulled out of the pile and exclaimed over but since both of the two older ones liked this and asked for it to be included I did, maybe this is why I’m told I spoil them. :-)


I finished another 40 napkins last evening which I will share with you when they are all finished.  It’s good to see the fabric pile shrinking.

Do you have an item in your house that reminds you of a loved one?

21 thoughts on “More Upcycled Projects

  1. Such a lovely post, both as a celebration of vintage fabrics and the importance of keeping and reusing our belongings (or finding such treasures in thrift stores to give them a new home) but this post is also very touching. It pulls my heartstrings to remember my Grandmother’s lovingly cared for and mended tablecloths and aprons. Fond memories are delightful to revisit. Thank you for another gem of a post Lois. Hugs, Gina xo


    • Gina, I’m happy to have reminded you of your good memories of your grandmother. I felt the same way when I spotted the tablecloth and enjoy fingering the mended spots and thinking of my grandmother. I know she would be smiling down to see the changes I’ve made and to have embraced the skills she so desperately wanted to teach me.


  2. I love the vintage fabrics – they’d make great napkins. I once made a nap blanket for one of the girls for naptime at daycare using a tablecloth that my sister-in-law brought me from Europe but that was too small for the table. I used a flannel sheet for the backing and it was used for years – very cosy and pretty.


    • Heidi, I love flannel sheets as they are so cozy and I can see why your blanket would have been used and loved for years. It would have only gotten better with age.

      I adore vintage fabrics and can tell with my eyes closed if a fabric is older as it even feels different. Softer and lighter than today’s fabrics yet they have held up for so long.


  3. Your upcycled quilt is lovely Lois and very warm too I imagine! I loved reading about your grandmother’s repairs. I can remember sleeping on sheets that had seams down the centre where the worn parts were put onto the outside. I can also remember my mother’s darning mushroom, sadly, I can only darn small holes in jumpers, certainly not a large sock hole like she could.


    • Jen, wouldn’t today’s youth who have grown accustomed to tossing out something worn or broken be shocked to see how our grandmothers repaired everything?

      I tried darning a sock for my son once and quickly gave up. One boy wore holes by his big toes while the other wore out the heal area. I wished I could have somehow put them together to make one good sock.


  4. Pretty! It’s wonderful that your grandchildren are enthusiastic learners. What a great skill that will be for them to have.

    There’s a retired schoolteacher in my area who bought her granddaughters portable sewing machines – at their request – and now I see them carrying purses they made and clothes they tailored to suit themselves. We had an excellent conversation recently about the best clothing stores: Salvation Army beat out Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul… :)


    • I try to encourage any passion in the little ones, so if they take to sewing I will most-likely find an easy machine for them to have of their own. How cool they still use them to make their own accessories and clothes.

      Here our best bet for clothes to alter is a church run thrift shop that sells all clothing for $0.25. Hard to beat that. I have bought the grandchildren plenty of clothes there, a few have become their favorite pieces worn as soon as they are clean again. :-)


  5. Love all of those colourful fabrics and your tablecloth looks really well on the back of your futon.. The mend reminded me of my Gran who would darn socks.. She taught me how to. And when money was tight in my early days of marriage. I remember darning wool socks of my hubbies and using a cotton reel to hold under the sock hole while I criss-crossed and wove.

    I remember my Grans candlewick tablecloth.. At least I think thats what it was called.. a think green one with fringe around which would sit on top of the table and a white embroidered one would be placed on top… I remember getting told off once for picking at the fringe :-) now you have set me off, as I can still smell her home made bread… :-)

    Always a pleasure to travel along memories lane with you Lois..
    thank you.. and loved the pictures of your little ones.. they are growing and looking lovely :-)
    Hugs Sue


    • My grandmother used to darn socks I wish I had her tool for holding the socks but then I had no interest in sewing of any kind. How life has changed over the years. :-)

      I have similar memories of my grandmother. How that generation treasured and cared for their belongings.

      Speaking of bread you just made me hungry reminding me of the breads baking often in our home. Her sour cream kuchen loafs were my favorite.

      I will be by shortly to visit you, :-)


      • I still have my mother’s mushroom for mending socks and her dress cutting chart to make individual patterns with.
        My grandchildren are fascinated with these..


        • Gill, I wish I had my grandmother’s. Right now the little ones are amazed with my rotary cutter and the sewing machine. I’ve promised to teach them to sew on the machine when I have one child at a time so they have my full attention. My grandson has already picked this coming Tuesday to spend the night with me so he can sew. :-)

          My grandmother didn’t have a dress cutting chart but it would be nice to have now that I have turned my attention to learning how to make clothes.


  6. I too love the tablecloth/blanket. there is something which catches at one’s heart.

    beautiful job on the napkins…grin, maybe the reason they both liked that bottom one…maybe they have picked up grandma’s love of blue?

    nice work all around, and, rather astounding at the final cost of the napkins.

    Lois, I truly wish that schools, in all grades, would have folks like yourself come in at least once a week, to talk a bit about their lives/answer questions. I think it would give young folks much wider view of their options re lifestyles/future choices.


    • I am so glad I bought the tablecloth as I love looking at it and it’s been useful this winter with the boiler problems. :-)

      I am guessing at the cost of the napkins, but it’s possible if I were to actually measure the fabric that it was less than that. I still have at least 2/3 of the fabric left which is where I estimated the final cost from.

      Our local school used to bring people in to talk to the students about their hobbies or passions. I once gave a presentation on my collection of Native American art pieces and the Native American beliefs. The children loved it, but with No Child Left Behind the schools have to stick to what they are told to teach and any extras have been eliminated. It’s really sad.


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