10 Smart Ways to Upcycle Old Tablecloths

Stained or wrong-size old tablecloths aren't doing you any good at the back of the linen closet. Here are some of our favorite ways to put yards and yards of material to good use around the house.
Stacey L. Nash Avatar
10 Ways to Upcycle Old Tablecloths

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Need yards of fabric for a craft project, but don’t want to spend big bucks on fancy textiles? Look no further than your linen-closet stash of old tablecloths. Most of us have a few table coverings that we don’t use as often as we might, whether it’s because we purchased the wrong size, or a stain has marred a once beautiful pattern. Considering that fabric can cost $10 to $15 or more per yard, a tablecloth is an upcycler’s bounty waiting for some imagination, a pair of scissors, and a stitch or two. Here are a few of our favorite ways to turn old tablecloths into treasures.

1. Fashion a Cross-Back Apron

10 Ways to Upcycle Old Tablecloths

Everyone needs an extra apron in the kitchen, and a tablecloth’s fabric naturally complements the kitchen. A cross-back apron has attached straps across the back, so there’s no tying needed and no straps to get wrapped up in the wash. Simply toss it over your head, adjust, and cook. You can use an apron you already have as a pattern (just remember to add a seam allowance) and cotton webbing or grosgrain ribbon for the straps.

2. Recover a Torn Card Table

10 Ways to Upcycle Old Tablecloths

It doesn’t take more than a few seasons of poker night for the vinyl on a well-used card table to begin showing nicks and tears. A vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloth makes a perfect replacement cover (with the right instructions from rintheamazing). Make sure the tablecloth comes in a pattern that you like because you’ll be looking at your new, waterproof gaming surface for a long time to come.

RELATED: How to Sew Your Own Stuff

3. Picnic Blanket

upcycle tablecloth

A vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloth can also be transformed into a waterproof picnic blanket. You can upcycle other large pieces of fabric like an old sheet, curtain, or cotton tablecloth for the top side of the blanket.

  • Lay the tablecloth vinyl side down on a table or the floor.
  • Lay the sheet on top of the tablecloth and smooth out any wrinkles.
  • Cut the sheet to the same size as the tablecloth.
  • Pin right sides of the tablecloth and sheet together, leaving a 6- to 8-inch opening on one side.
  • Stitch all the way around the tablecloth except where you left the opening.
  • Turn the tablecloth and sheet right side out through the opening. (You might need a pencil to get the corners completely turned).
  • Hand-stitch the opening closed.
  • Use an iron to press around the edges so the seams will lay flat.

4. Handkerchief

upcycling tableclothes

Thin, vintage tablecloths easily become classy handkerchiefs. If the tablecloth doesn’t have any stains, you can turn the entire thing into a set of matching handkerchiefs. However, if it’s looking a little worse for wear in a few areas, simply adjust your pattern accordingly to avoid those spots. You’ll have to DIY your own pattern, but considering that they’re only squares, you don’t have to be a sewing pro to pull it off.

5. Market Bag

Upcycle tablecloth

With more and more states charging extra for plastic grocery bags, a collection of fabric market bags can save you some cash. You need fabric that is three times longer than it is wide. Sounds like a tablecloth, doesn’t it? A market bag can be lined or unlined. If you’ve got a couple of tablecloths, you can create complementary linings for a reversible design.

6. Circle Skirt

upcycling tableclothes

Sometimes tablecloths come in vintage prints or fabrics that are so delicious, you wish you could wear them. Guess what? You can turn them into wardrobe staples. A traditional circle skirt takes a large amount of fabric, and a big tablecloth, particularly a round one, is perfect. Get out the pen and pencil because it might take some math skills to calculate the length, fullness, and inner circle (waist) size.

7. Custom Dog Bed

upcycling tablecloths

A heavy or flannel-backed, vinyl tablecloth can make an excellent cover for a dog bed. If you already have a dog bed, you can take apart the existing cover to create a pattern. However, if you want to make a custom dog bed from scratch, a tablecloth that provides 2 to 3 yards of fabric should do, depending on the size of the pooch and the bed.

8. Holiday Napkins

upcycling tablecloths

Have more holiday tablecloths than you know what to do with? Repurpose them into festive holiday napkins. A standard napkin is anywhere from 16 by 16 inches to 24 by 24 inches. It’s easy enough to create your own pattern using cardboard or tissue paper, and just finish the edges. Using tablecloths for napkins can also be a fun way to preserve family memories. Besides, who doesn’t need extra napkins during the holidays?

RELATED: How to Use a Sewing Machine Like a Pro 

9. Outdoor Pillowcase

upcycling tablecloths

A flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth transformed into an envelope pillowcase can easily turn the backyard into a favorite lounge space. You’ll need to buy a pillow insert, but beyond that, it takes sewing scissors, pins, and a sewing machine. Of course, a cotton or linen tablecloth can work outside too, but they’re more susceptible to the elements.

10. Tablecloth Tree Skirt

upcycling tablecloth

A round tablecloth in favorite holiday colors or patterns is the perfect shape for a Christmas tree skirt and ready for a quick repurpose. Here’s how to make it:

  • Find the center of the tablecloth by laying it flat and measuring from one edge to the other through the center.
  • Divide by two and mark this number (the center) with a pencil or pen.
  • Use a pencil to draw a straight line from the center point to the edge of the tablecloth.
  • Use a compass to create a circle that’s large enough to surround your holiday tree stand. Use the center point marked earlier as the center of the circle.
  • Using sewing scissors, cut on the line that runs from the center point to the edge.
  • Now, cut along the edge of the circle drawn in the center.
  • Hem or sew bias tape along the cut edges. (You can also use the same bias tape around the entire edge of the tablecloth.)