Repurpose Those Vintage Linens

    I have lots of beautiful vintage linen stashed away in my studio. The thought of having a snow white pristine linen tablecloth was not very appealing to me because I knew I would always be concerned about stains and spills.
    My solution was to take a large tablecloth and rust dye it so that I could use it every day and enjoy it. Below is a picture of a round metal disk with a Japanese character cut into it that I used for my dyeing.
Here's a yard ornament that was used for rusting vintage fabrics, by April Sproule.
This is what I did for my rust project. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  1. I mixed enough warm water and white vinegar to soak my fabric in a bucket. I used equal parts vinegar and water, and soaked it for an hour while I gathered my other supplies.
  2. I used a few other rusty bits of gears and things. I placed the round disk in the center of my square piece of linen, folded the fabric around the disk, and bound it tightly with a piece of thin cord. It is important to bind it tightly so you get actual contact between the metal and the fabric.Here's what the linen looked like bundled up for rusting. April Sproule
  3. Next I placed my bundle of fabric in a black garbage bag and closed it up. I let it sit in the sun for as long as possible and then left it indoors for another day. The photo above is what it looked like when I opened up the bag. The fabric in the center was almost black.
  4. Now all I had to do was to unwrap my bundle and soak the fabric in a solution of water and 2 Tablespoons of baking soda for a couple of hours. I then rinsed my fabric out really well and washed it with a mild detergent.

Now for the cutting and sewing!

Make a round tablecloth with April Sproule.

The maximum width of my fabric was 66" before I cut it, so when I started my project I cut a 66" square to work with. I folded it in half twice, so I was left with 1/4 of the fabric showing as in the picture above.

Make a round tablecloth from vintage linen with April Sproule.

 My tablecloth is 66" x 66". I have it folded in quarters, so I need to mark my cutting line at 1/2 of the actual size, or 33". With a pencil mark 33" from the center point towards the outer raw edges, and you will have 1/4 of a perfect circle. This is your cutting line.

Note: if you aren't sure where to mark or cut, do a mini practice piece first and it will all make sense.Stitching a curved hem with a double fold with April Sproule.

 Now all you need to do is fold your edge under 1/4" twice as you stitch close to the inner edge of your fold. Pin a little and stitch a little while being careful to ease your fabric in as you stitch  so your fabric doesn't get stretched out and end up with a wavy edge. Repurposed vintage linens tutorial by April Sproule.

Here is my finished project, and I absolutely love it. Now I get to use this every day and never worry about it getting stained or ruined. That rust dyeing is great camouflage.

 Linen napkins made from  rust dyed vintage linen tutorial by April Sproule.

I also made 6 napkins to go with the tablecloth. I cut them at 14" square and they finished at about 11". For instructions on how to sew mitered corners on the napkins, read: Linen Napkins Tutorial