Recycling fabric

My next assignment for the C&G course is to make a small piece of patchwork from recycled fabric. It could be a piece of clothing or a household item. I’ve decided to use an old pillowcase, which probably belonged to my Grandma. When we were emptying my Dad’s flat last summer I brought back a large bag full of pillowcases, tablecloths, doilies etc that had been stored but not used for years. Although it hurts a bit to chop these things up it’s better than them just hanging around. So I decided to make a start at recycling them.

This the pillowcase that I am using.


I was absolutely amazed at the tiny hand stitches. It was almost impossible to unpick. I managed to remove the crotchet edging without doing too much damage to it, but gave up on the rest and just cut off the seams. This is a long seam made by oversewing the selvedges. Certainly nothing went to waste in those days. They would probably be appalled to learn that we are taught to cut off the selvedges. I could only just make out the stitches in a good bright light.


Here is a detail of the right side of the hem with the crochet border still attached. You can just about see the tiny stitches in the hem. The sewing thread was much stronger then too. It was almost impossible to break and that when it must be at least 50 years old and has been washed many times.


And the following two images show the hem from the wrong side with my attempts at unpicking that were quickly abandoned.

hem again

attempts at unpicking

I have to say that I have great admiration for the needlewomen of the past. I thought that my hand stitching was neat, but I don’t come close to these standards at all.

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