Transformation: Table cloth to shirt

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I have a thing about tablecloths.  Linen tablecloths, especially. I have turned them into shirts for years.  My favourite was a shirt made from two cloths in the same design (jugs and glasses with lemon slices) in two different sizes and colours.  I loved it so much I wore it into shreds.  Right now I have a plain white shirt made from a damask tablecloth with a chrysanthemum design on it, and a sleeveless shirt (tank?) made from a ‘Beautiful Western Australia’ tablecloth which is so well worn and washed now that it is disintegrating and it is getting harder to figure out what the landmarks and floral emblems on it are (and the pictures are really tough to work out).

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Just the same, this is the top I want to wear when it is reeeally hot.  And it had been 44C here at the time of writing.  This time I chose a linen tablecloth from the stash (with just a few holes!) and settled on worn out cotton kimono interfacing.

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I have never loved interfacing, and now that I have worked my way down through the stuff I have inherited making bags, I have very little left.  I’m waiting to see if I can resist buying it and use natural fibres instead, which must have been what people did in the past, where they interfaced at all.  This is a low drama experiment.

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I like it!  This is New Look 6666, no doubt long discontinued.  Now I have checked the envelope, I see the shop it was purchased from closed years ago, and there is a good chance that I bought it second hand in any case.

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It’s simple to sew and has a nicely faced finish that makes it very comfortable.  I have adjusted it slightly to make the neckline less wide.  So, hopefully, here is my new very hot day favourite shirt.

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Filed under Sewing

34 responses to “Transformation: Table cloth to shirt

  1. caroline

    I share your love of damask tablecloths for tops. They also take indigo and natural dyes absolutely beautifully

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love Hot Day Clothes 🙂 and I love yours with corner patterning…


  3. Susan

    Makes me shiver…but I will keep this in mind for when we get summer 🙂
    Good job.


  4. Margaret Ford

    Love the way you’ve placed the pattern pieces. It makes the top look very complex….a good trick when it’s actually simple! I’m about to look in my linen cupboard now as I know there are table cloths there that are beautiful but which I’ve not used in ten years….


  5. I love your new shirt! I have lots of old linen dishtowels, I should try patching them together for a summer shirt!
    And…… I have just disregarded the interfacing in making loads of clothes and they seem fine without it!


    • Thanks! Why not create a linen shirt? There is so much to love about linen as a fabric… Knowing when interfacing is needed and why is quite a skill, I think. My friend gave a reading from her sewing manual on the functions of interfacing while was cutting out this shirt 🙂


  6. Great tops, difficult to find linen tablecloths over here apart from buying new.
    I’ve started binding my edges on tops, I prefer it to separate facings and its what a lot of new patterns do, otherwise they just turn back the edges though that is a bit fiddly.


    • Thanks Debbie! Linen tablecloths are not common here either, but a nice solid cotton can be found more readily. I like facings better than fiddly turned edges in lots of contexts, but it is partly about what I can achieve with a nice finish. I’ve been working on my binding skills but I can usually still get a better result with a facing, in a garment. Context makes a big difference I think. But I notice the same trend as you on contemporary patterns.


  7. Jess

    As a textile history geek I can say with complete confidence that people in the past used lots of interfacing, all different kinds of materials depending on availability and purpose. In general the more structured the clothing, the more layers of interlining they used. I can pull out some examples for you if you are interested.

    Your creative reuse of old textiles is so inspiring! Though you are doing so in a way that fits our culture and times, what you are doing is what all people did prior to the industrial revolution. You are the latest in a long tradition of using and reusing fabric that stretches back thousands of years.

    It is one of the reasons that I love natural dyeing as well. It makes me feel connected to a tradition stretching back over 20,000 years 🙂


    • Thanks Jess! I love that sense of connection to tradition too. And have no doubts about interfacing being used as a structure in the past…. Just not that noxious weird stuff we now have made specifically for the job. I do like interfacing as a structure and facings rather than rolled edges and bindings have a place too. But I think I’d like to at least try using standard natural fibres for the job and not iron on synthetic fibres. Glad to have a textile history geek in the neighbourhood!


  8. I love this! Wow, it never dawned on me to use my tablecloths like this. I have quite a few being somewhat addicted to collecting souvenir cloths. 😁


  9. Brilliant, why have I never thought of this! I have a lovely print table cloth, bought because it was pretty, and some tatty old damask, that I am sure have enough good bits to make a vest.


  10. i have not used interfacing since i glued it to my mother’s iron as a twelveyear old and got into Very Serious Trouble. if i really need extra substance i just use a piece of old linen or cotton. most times i don’t bother, though and i’m pretty sure passersby can’t tell the difference 🙂


    • Oh. Very Serious Trouble is indeed to be avoided! Thanks, India–I am glad to know that an old piece of cotton or linen is functional–it did seem logical. I am sure passersby can’t tell the difference, and I’d be so glad to sever my relationship with the fabrics previously known to me as interfacing and go for natural fabrics which can fulfil the function of interfacing where needed or wanted. And now to the plum crop from Mum and Dad’s garden!


  11. beautiful! And I’m so happy to have alternate use inspiration for my stash of wonderful old tablecloths. Can’t use them on the table because of the cat (yes, the cat rules)….


  12. I am so going to reduce the # of tablecloths I have on hand. Brilliant! I am a novice seamstress so need to search out a pattern!


  13. Rebecca

    These are delightful and super useful! The best linen goes into table cloths! Vive the repurposed!


  14. Pingback: So many hand made bags! | Local & Bespoke

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