Reclaiming Fabric for Vintage Projects

Vintage fabric rarely comes by the meter, unused or still on the bolt, so you will probably find that you will need to reclaim it from curtains, clothes or other made-up fabric sources. Searching out and salvaging what you can is the way forward.

Lots of craft projects only use small pieces of fabric, so vintage items that have holes or tears or marks that cannot be removed can be a great source of resonably priced fabric. If you are looking for knitted or woven fabrics, try hunting down old jackets and jumpers. Cut them up carefully so you retain the original finished edges for use in some of the projects.

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Some old fabrics are not as colour-fast as our modern equivalents, so don’t put your work shirts in the wash with old curtains. If you are particularly fastidious you can unpick the stitches of clothes, but the great method is to cut alongside all the seems to produce usable, flat pieces of cloth. Use pinking shears to stop fraying if you like.

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The natural hoarder would like to recycle as much as can. So silky jacket linings can cover covered hangers (see here). Old buttons are popped in a tin for future use. Ruffled frills from old pillowcases and crocheted edges from worn tablecloths are all carefully reclaimed. Lovely morsels of old lace, cuffs and collars, embroidered flowers, snippets of ribbon and even the smallest piece of fabricĀ  are all squirreled away.

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For bigger projects, old linen, blankets and curtains provide the largest pieces of fabric. Once again: wash them well before handling them and cut out any marks or areas too worn to use. Look on internet auction sites for suitable blankets, as these are used in lots of vintage style projects. You will probably find that they are cheaper to buy in summer, when demand is smaller than in winter.

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Finally, don’t overlook your own and your family’s wardrobe cast-offs. Pretty dresses and well-washed shirts, shrunken jumpers or old velvet jackets: today’s fashion is tomorrow’s vintage and there may be some amazing finds that have only had one careful owner in a wardrobe near you.

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