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Thread: used/recycled fabric - how to get the "newness" back?

  1. #1
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    used/recycled fabric - how to get the "newness" back?

    I'm a very new quilter (still at the knotting stage) and so didn't want to invest a whole lot of money into fabric just yet. So when I wandered into Goodwill/Value Village, it was like a light bulb went off in my head when I ended up in the bedding department. These sheets are perfect for a quilt backing and the pillow cases are the right size for fabric swatches. I love the idea of the new "3 R's" - recycle, reduce, reuse...but I really, really, REALLY miss the crispness of new fabric. The sizing. I've washed and ironed lthem with starch, but some of these fabrics are sooo well loved that they are really thin and very fine - but the colour and pattern goes amazingly well with the quilt I'm working on. Any suggestions on getting back the "snappyness" of new material?
    Last edited by Puddin57; 03-29-2013 at 11:02 AM.

  2. #2
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddin57 View Post
    .................. I've washed and ironed lthem with starch, but some of these fabrics are sooo well loved that they are really thin and very fine ...................
    They are telling you that they are past their prime for the purpose you are intending ... pass them by!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  3. #3
    Super Member mike'sgirl's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use them either. You never know when one piece might rip because it's just too old. You don't want that to happen when you have put as much work as one does into a quilt. Get your fabric in the bargain bin at a LQS or walmart if you're not wanting to spend a lot, use the linens for the bed. P.S. I totally get the three R's and do that as well when appropriate. Good luck.Gina

  4. #4
    Super Member barri1's Avatar
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    I guess I lucked out. The thrift store I go to had new amazingly good quality sheets, and I bought a bunch. I bought a bunch of shirts that were Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and high end brands..

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    It makes sense not to use the threadbare ones, but would it be your recommendation not to use any used material? Just like barri1, I did pick up some nice quality sheets for $4.00 ... and they do have the crispness of new fabrics that I'm looking for...just not a very practical pattern (yet)

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    I agree don't use those sheets for a quilt! I like to visit the thrift shop that are own by " Pop & Mom" so to speak . I find that they are willing to help you out! Goodwill can have some good bargains if you hit it at the right time.

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    I say go for it if you can find good quality ones. The quilters that came before us used every little scrap of fabric they could get their hands on. I have a quilt made by MIL that has apron, shirt and pajama scraps as well as pillowcase and sheet remnants. She began quilting in the late 30's and used what she had. And I treasure the quilts she left behind.

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    I"ll skip the threadbare ones (or maybe double up the fabric on a smaller project) and find something else for the backing then - back to the thrift shop tomorrow with a new selection criteria in mind....I also picked up some linen napkin samples which I thought would be good for accent pieces - brand new with the sample tags still on them

  9. #9
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Set threadbare ones aside and use them to practice FMQ when you get there or for foundation for string quilt.

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    what a wonderful idea! it didn't dawn on me to practise FMQ with them - great suggestion!! then I won't feel as if I wasted my money

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    If heavy starching isn't enough, you can back the fabrics with a lightweight interfacing or MistyFuse. However, this adds to your cost. I do think the idea to use them to practice FMQ is a better idea.

  12. #12
    Super Member Gladys's Avatar
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    I like the idea of practicing FMQ with them. Isn't this place great!

  13. #13
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    When I was last in the states, I found some wonderful all cotton sheets at a thrift store for $1.50 each. They were very high quality sheets and not at all "worn out" and wonderfully white--very, very white--and not thin at all. I've been using them in some of my charity quilts and I love them. Plus, I found about 6 or 7 of them --all the same, so that meant I had a lot of that fabric. (They weren't the kind that is so tightly woven that you can't quilt them, either. I've experienced that as well! That is something else to watch for.)

    Just be picky about what you choose--you can find good stuff that is sent to the thrift stores. A lot depends on where they get the donations.

  14. #14
    Super Member SherriB's Avatar
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    I bought a sheet from Goodwill for $1.67. It was a full size cotton/poly sheet. I used it for the backing on a utility quilt. We will use it during the summer for camping, picnics and drive in movies. I think it will hold up to the abuse better than cotton.
    Sherri

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    I doubt my quilts will be used for anything other then a bedspread, so I'm going to look again for a better quality sheets and if I can't find anything - then it'll become a UFO (I think that's what its called)...in the meantime I'll practise actual quilting on what I have...but I'll pay closer attention next time I'm in the bedding section

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    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    I am saving all of my FMQ practice squares. Eventually I will add sashings to them to make a quilt top. Looking and using at it will be a record of my FMQ progress.
    Sweet Caroline

  17. #17
    Super Member QultingaddictUK's Avatar
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    Yes you have to be a bit picky with so called "good buys" but most fabric can have some use left in them. Practicing quilting on some of the more well loved buys can still have a use, such as pads for garden seats, car covers and other utilitarian uses. You learn your quilting techniques without breaking the bank and still find a use for them, BTW Fur-babies love our practice bits n pieces

    A top tip, a pair of pillowcases, un-stitched will give you a full yard of fabric, approximately 72" wide! Absolutely super for binding as you get 14 yards from ONE pillowcase. Don't worry if you get Poly/cotton mix as they are super for children s and other heavy usage quilts as they are made to launder a lot. My charity quilts are all backed with them.

  18. #18
    Super Member DebbE's Avatar
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    I'd use the more threadbare ones possibly inside (as batting) as long as you plan on quilting it quite a bit (to hold everything in place)....they make good batting, and are more protected inside. I'd have no problem with used sheets IF the thread count was high enough (and not well worn) for backing for more simple quilts (like scrappy utility quilts).
    Great idea to use them to practice FMQ, too.

  19. #19
    Super Member Zappycat's Avatar
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    I work at Kohls and right now the flannel sheet sets are on clearance. I bought a king size set. The flannel is pretty and nice and thick. I like to use it for backing scrappy quilts. The king sized sheet set was $11.99 and I had a 30% off coupon.... that makes it $8.40...less than a yard of fabric. I know its not as good as the ones from thrift shops at a few bucks... but it is brand new! I can back one large quilt and maybe a couple of small ones as well!

  20. #20
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
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    Some times old is too old to use. It is great to RRR. As you learn more about material you will be more able to discern quality in fabric. It is a learning experience.

    Another subject with a wide range of opinion is the use of sheets in quilts for the backing. Be careful with this sometimes they work and sometimes not.

    The main reason being that the thread count in sheets is much higher than in standard quilting cottons and it can make quilting harder. If you machine quilt sheeting material the needle can tear the sheet threads rather than pushing through the threads. It can also cause distortion on the quilt top.

    It is a choice and many will say they never have a problem using sheets. This is just a heads up on what can happen.

    Don't get discouraged over the fabric you thought was a wonderful find. This one time the fabric was very thin.

    A long time ago someone told me that if I could see my hand shadow behind the material it was too thin to use. I have used this test many times and I think my quilts are better for doing it.

    Passing up beautiful fabric is hard to do sometimes but in the long run there will be other beautiful fabric in the future.
    peace
    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

  21. #21
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i often recycle and re-use fabrics...but if they are thin/fine they really are not suited for quilting- unless you add an interfacing to them to give them some body/substance- they will be too fragile & chances are simply fall apart with the first laundering. if the fabrics are good quality, not too thin, fine they will be perfectly ok to use. sheets are generally not recommended for a number of reasons, the thread counts are much more than the quilting fabrics we use-so they are not as easy to work with. you can use spray sizing or starch to make your recycled fabrics nicer to work with= but if they are thin/worn to the point that a spritz of starch does not give them body- they should be set aside for some other use (like to use for practicing/checking tensions/trying new stitches, a press cloth, or even foundations for 'paper *foundation* piecing...or if you love them & really really want to use them purchase some lightweight fusable interfacing *woven or non-woven* (not paper backed fusable for applique)and fuse it to the back of the fabrics...then use as desired.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  22. #22
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    Don't forget to look at men's shirts at the thrift store. You can get close to a yard of fabric there.

  23. #23
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    Usually the threadbare sheets are more threadbare in the center than around the edges, so you may be able to get some usable fabric from them - if you already bought them anyway.

    Otherwise, I agree that skipping threadbare or yellowed/graying sheets is a best.

  24. #24
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddin57 View Post
    I'm a very new quilter (still at the knotting stage) and so didn't want to invest a whole lot of money into fabric just yet. So when I wandered into Goodwill/Value Village, it was like a light bulb went off in my head when I ended up in the bedding department. These sheets are perfect for a quilt backing and the pillow cases are the right size for fabric swatches. I love the idea of the new "3 R's" - recycle, reduce, reuse...but I really, really, REALLY miss the crispness of new fabric. The sizing. I've washed and ironed lthem with starch, but some of these fabrics are sooo well loved that they are really thin and very fine - but the colour and pattern goes amazingly well with the quilt I'm working on. Any suggestions on getting back the "snappyness" of new material?
    I use a lot of recycled fabric. My rule of thumb is if it's obviously used------------don't put it in a quilt.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  25. #25
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    Zappycat, if you're getting a set of flannel sheets for $11.99 with 30% off, you're getting an excellent deal! The flannel sheets make excellent backings and you can use the pillowcases 'as is' to hold/match the quilt. The fitted sheets - cut the elastic off, open the darts and lay it flat and you have another backing, plus scraps.

    Buying a set of flannel sheets for $8.40 is better than any good will or thrift store buy.

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