Crafting with Flea Market Fabrics


That’s the name of a book I love that I bought in a used book store.  It’s by Deborah Harding and was published by Reader’s Digest in 1998.  Flea market is the term that is used, but this applies to fabrics bought at estate sales (a great source), yard sales, thrift stores, and even items stored in your own linen closet or garage.

I was reminded of this book after browsing in antique shops.  If you have these items, what do you do with them?  A lot of times, they’re just stored away and not enjoyed.  Some things, like an antique quilt, you wouldn’t want to cut up,  but what about partially stained linens or part of a tattered quilt?  What if a beautifully embroidered dresser scarf you have is just not your style?  The book has ideas of ways to adapt these items for everyday use instead of just saving them.

The chapters of the book contain projects for embroidered linens, chenille, quilts, lace trims, handkerchiefs, kitchen linens, and doilies.

Some visual glimpses:

A dresser scarf used as a door window covering…

Embroidered Dresser Scarf Used as Door Window Covering

pillowcase dolls….

Pillowcase Dolls

cats with handkerchief dresses…

Vintage Handkerchiefs as Cat Dresses

a Christmas handkerchief used as a focal point in a quilt wall hanging…

Christmas handkerchief used as center for quilt wall hanging

embroidered towels as pillow covers…

Embroidered Towels Made Into Pillow CoversTURES

days of the week embroidered towels made into a coverlet…

Tea Towels Made Into Bedspread

and an embroidered tea towel made into a tea or toaster cozy.

Vintage Tea Towel Made into Tea Cozy

Look at all the beautiful things vintage kitchen linens were made into in this photo: curtains, placemats, chair seats, and napkins.  So charming!

Vintage Kitchen Linens Remade

Besides the projects, the book has interesting information about the history of and collecting the subject item of each chapter.

One project I found on Pinterest from Karoline of Cherished*Vintage uses vintage tablecloths and embroidered pillowcases to make wire coat hanger slipcovers.  So pretty!

The always creative refashion blogger, Beth, of The Renegade Seamstress, made a gorgeous dress out of a vintage Vera tablecloth.  How stunning!

What is your view on these vintage fabrics: store away, use, or repurpose? Do you have a project you have made with pieces of a quilt, tablecloth,  or other vintage item?

7 thoughts on “Crafting with Flea Market Fabrics

  1. seweverythingblog

    Oh my! This book is very familiar; it must have been a library loan for me. If I owned it, I would have kept it.
    Thanks for making me go back in time…..

  2. Pillows A-La-Mode

    I love it! I made some of those pillowcase dolls . . . they were LOTS of work but a fun way to share my grandmother’s pillowcase handiwork with all the girls in the family. I can’t wait to see what all you make! 🙂

    1. Stitch It Again Post author

      That’s even more special to make the dolls from stitchery passed down in the family. What a beautiful thing to do! I like browsing for ideas, but I don’t have anything in mind to make now. A while back I made a pillow back for a piece of needlepoint by cutting up my mother’s 1950s era apron. I have mixed feelings about cutting up things, but like the idea of finding creative ways to display these pieces.

  3. KerryCan

    I’ll have to look for a copy of this book! It has great ideas and, heaven knows, I need ideas for the all the linens I have around. I’m very ambivalent about cutting up items that are in good condition but I have lots of things with damage and I’m quite okay with re-using those!

    1. Stitch It Again Post author

      I agree with you about cutting up most undamaged items. The book also has projects for things like quilt blocks that were never used.
      I just discovered and love your posts about “why vintage”. The curtains you made from a tablecloth with a big hole are beautiful! I see you’ve already put some of these repurposing ideas into practice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s