New Life for Old Linens
Landfills are reaching a tipping point. Every little bit of used material that gets repurposed instead of thrown away slows the fill and creates a more sustainable way of living. Pillowcases wear thin, go out of style, or simply get replaced by new sheet sets. However, there are a number of ways to reuse or repurpose a perfectly good piece of fabric for those pillowcases still in good shape. Some imagination and helpful ideas can get the wheels of creativity rolling.
Cover a Dog Bed
Dogs go through beds pretty quickly thanks to fur, claws, and chewing. Use an old pillowcase to cover a favorite dog bed or use new stuffing to create an entirely new dog bed. When made into a cover, a pillowcase can easily go through the wash for a cleaner, easier-to-manage dog bed.
Photo: etsy.com via SnoozleUSA
Make a Child’s Dress
This pillowcase dress pattern is simple enough for beginners and makes good use of vintage (or modern) prints and patterns. Refashioning the pillowcase offers an opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind look and practice sewing skills. Depending on the pattern used, sewing enthusiasts might be able to combine complementary fabrics for a unique, miniature fashion statement.
Craft a Child’s Skirt
Pillowcases are often the perfect circumference for a child’s skirt. It’s a fairly simple process but will require a sewing measuring tape, scissors, 1-inch elastic, needle, and thread (and sewing machine, but it’s just as easy by hand). Measure the child’s waist to knee length, and use the elastic to create a waistband. The pillowcase’s finished edge acts as the bottom of the skirt, saving you time on finishing an edge. TinySewingCompany's pattern will make this sewing upcycle a snap.
Put Together a Floor Cushion (or Two)
Sew several pillowcases together along the long edge, and stuff them with pillows. Three or four attached pillowcases easily transform to a floor cushion, floor chair, or small bed. It’s great for guests, sleepovers, or even a portable reading nook for the kid who likes to snuggle into a nest.
Photo: etsy.com via TheTeepeeStore
Upcycle for an Apron
A pillowcase is basically a piece of fabric that can double for many of the same uses as any other fabric piece. A beloved print can easily transform into an apron that’s used and enjoyed every day. Fun prints and colors give the apron personality. Use complementary fabrics to add a pocket or the aprons strings for an added touch of personal style.
Form a Drawstring Laundry Bag
On the practical side of repurposing is turning goods no longer needed into storage containers. Pillowcases are a great size for a laundry bag. Create a folded pocket (casing) at the top and pull a drawstring through it. A pillowcase-size laundry bag works well for travel or a kid’s room. Plus, it’s easy to wash if it gets soiled.
Uses as a Duster and Rags
Your ceiling fan blades could probably use a good cleaning, and pillowcases are perfectly designed for it. Sling the pillowcase over the blade (blade inside the pillowcase) and slide it off, removing more pesky dust than most of us would like to admit is in the home. Along those same lines, cut an old pillowcase into sections to make plenty of great dusting rags.
Store Sheet Sets
Linen closets can quickly become a tangled mess of sheets, towels, and pillowcases of all sizes. A retired pillowcase can easily hold a well-folded bed sheet set, including the fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases. The old pillowcase contains them and keeps them clean and makes stacking in the linen closet easier. (Hint: Throw in a used dryer sheet to keep the sheets smelling fresh while they're stored.)
Design a Reusable Shopping Bag
A few snips, cuts, and new seams can transform a pillowcase into a shopping bag, similar to this upcycled cotton bag by Etsy's XprssnsbyRobin. As more cities and states enact legislation that discourages the use of plastic bags, these homemade shopping bags will save cash and add convenience. There are a number of ways to personalize the design with ribbons, buttons, and pockets. Newbies will find a few well-placed cuts and knots can create a handle and an instant carry-all for produce and groceries.
Photo: etsy.com via XprssnsByRobin
Tailor a Book Tote
Totes take a few more sewing skills than a produce or grocery bag but not much. Once again, a pillowcase’s shape and existing seams work in favor of this refashion. Cut the pillowcase down to the right height, sew a top seam, and add ribbons or more material for handles. Voila! A tote for library books, groceries, or a day at the park.
Photo: etsy.com via mikastore
Fashion a Chair Cover
Several matching or complementary pillowcases can transform (and protect) a dining room chair. Pillowcases can slide over the top of most dining chairs. Tie a ribbon around the case to secure it, and the pillowcase becomes part of the dining room design. This is a great option for a set of vintage or themed pillowcases.
Save for Packing Material
Threadbare pillowcases pose more of a reuse challenge. However, they definitely have their place. If they’re not in good enough condition to use as a dust cloth, why not use them as packing material? Holiday dishes, family keepsakes, and other breakables wrapped in a pillowcase stay safer whether they’re in storage or making a trek across the country.
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