Fashion is everywhere

Chez Larsson

Repurposing Old Sheets

I got an e-mail a while back from Irene asking for ideas for what to do with old sheets.

I love re-purposing the fabric because it's usually really soft and the wear and tear is often concentrated to the edges while there are still good pieces in the middle.

Here are some ideas that I've tried and some others too.


Old sheets are great for making garment protectors. Martha does a similar thing but my original inspiration came from my mom's coat closet where she covers her winter coats and furs. (I hate the fact that she wears fur btw. And she knows it…) with old sheets that she poked a hole in.


One of my favorite uses for old sheets is to make them into rags. Above you see the rags I quickly zig-zagged together when Wille was a baby. I used them to wipe his little face when drooling. 14 years later I use them for cleaning glass. Because they are so old and worn they don't shed fibers and are perfect for cleaning glass and mirrors.

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See the little sausage on the shelf to the right? Also there's a similar sausage in the far right on the floor, just barely visible. Those are a sleeping bag and an igloo tent in their covers made from an old sheet. I guess what I'm trying to say is that sheets are a great way to cover things that you need to store. For two reasons. They are easy to toss in the laundry when they get dusty (and they do with us not camping very often) and also if you stick to a uniform color like I have here (white, surprise!) you get a uniform storage set without spending any money.

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Here are some other uses for old sheets.

* Drop cloths when painting. Above I used the plastic sheets that came with a roller set I bought but in the past I've used old sheets. In fact I have a set in a plastic bin in the garage for that purpose. EDIT: Amanda, a reader, unfortunately learned the hard way that paint can soak through a sheet so take precaution and add double layers or if you are worried you'll drip a lot use a plastic like I did above.

* My mom used to always wrap the Christmas tree in an old sheet when taking it outside so as to prevent the needles to fall everywhere in the house.

* Sew some simple bags (or use old pillowcases!) and use as laundry bags and shoe bags in your suitcase when traveling.

* Cut holes for eyes and make ghost Halloween costumes.

* Cut into strips, braid and stitch together to make a rag rug.

* Cut a hole for the head, add a belt at waist and use as a painters poncho when doing messy crafts or DIY.

* Use the good pieces from a sheet and make pillow cases out of. I think half of our pillow cases are actually re-purposed sheets. 

Basically you can use old sheets for whatever you use fabric yardage for, decorative pillow cases, shower curtains or even summer dresses for little girls.

If you're not fond of the pattern or color of your old sheets you can use them where they are not out in the open (like in a walk in closet as opposed to our under the stairs) or you can always dye them and if all else fails drop them off to be recycled and thus reused.

Have you made anything from an old sheet? Oh, I remember now that I've used some as makeshift curtains too, simply folding them over and clipping them to a curtain rod in my very first apartment in Älmhult.


  • Ali Edwards says:

    Totally loved this post – especially about using them to cover coats/clothes. I need to do this.

  • Tant Grön says:

    Superbra tips! Jag har haft den pågång, klädskydd eller vad det kallas och nu fick jag ju en beskrivning på hur så nu har jag inga ursäkter 🙂

  • yet another genius re-purposing idea. thanks so much!
    xo urban flea 🙂

  • I’ve seen old vintage embroidered pillow cases made into beautiful girl’s dresses on Martha Stewart. I too use sheets for curtains. They are perfect, they fall so nicely. Thanks for some great ideas Benita.

  • thank you thank you tkank you! 🙂

  • Franziska says:

    I didn’t make something out of sheets because we have the stretchy ones. Oh, I used one to make a large sign where bride and groom have to cut out a heart and he has to carry here through the hole.
    But I did use an old shirt to sew the top of a cupcake. And I used some leftover fabric of a curtain to make pillow cases. But that’s off topic…
    You gave nice ideas to me. Thanks.

  • I basically use them to clean, specially glass and windows, and they are better than any cleaning cloth you can buy. Very interesting post. Thanks as always.

  • Du är otrolig!!! Helt enkelt så är det precis så! 🙂

  • Lizzy says:

    You are so creative! I used a pretty sheet a curtain when I was 20 years old in France. I got the sheet at a flea market for just a couple of euros (or was it francs back then?) and felt so proud of myself.

  • dede says:

    I bought twin top sheets at IKEA and used them to line store-bought thin drapes… so cheep, like under $3 US.

  • Christina says:

    I’ve made summer pj pants for the family with old sheets — I sometimes even pick some up at thrift stores if the pattern is interesting. Hard to beat making a pair of pants (or several) for $1.

  • Cheryl says:

    Some animal shelters or boarding kennels use old sheets or towels to line their cages. You can call your local shelter or kennel to find out if they will accept the donation. Just because they’re too worn for you, doesn’t mean a homeless puppy wouldn’t find them cozy!

  • Gosia says:

    All of the tips are so great. I expecially liked your little rags. Who would have thought that a plain thing like that could look so pretty.

  • Malena says:

    I’ve used an old pillow case to sew a pantry ispenser for plastic grocery bags. We have to put our trash in plastic bags before we put them in the trash bin for pick-up, so we use them for that a lot. You can buy cloth tube dispensers, but why? I just put elastic in both ends of a tube, added a loop for hanging, and there’s the storage for plastic bags.
    (We also take excess bags to a charity shop for their use – another way to recycle and keep the bags out of the trash for a while longer.)

  • Laura says:

    I love using old sheets as the backing for quilts – like you said, so soft!

  • Tae says:

    that’s amazing. thank you! i’ve never been this excited about old sheets!

  • Just this weekend I made a new duvet cover out of 2 unused flat sheets! We don’t use flat sheets at our house so I always have extras. I used 2 different colored flannel sheets and sewed them together like a pillow case. Now I have a new duvet (dyne) cover that I can have either white or blue!!

  • Aww! That’s too cute. I’m going to check if that’s possible at the local shelter!

  • cristy says:

    I have used old sheets for the backing on quilts,

  • Vicki K. says:

    In the spirit of storing items, I have used old pillowcases (or sewn sheets) to make a storage bag for old family quilts when not in use. Also, I have a Christmas ball wreath that I like to store hanging up in the attic with a sheet-made cover to keep the dust at bay.
    My local vet and shelter also like used towels too.

  • Chrystelle says:

    Clever girl! I used them to make an indoor tent/fort for my children when they were young—the secret spy place under the dining table! Also made super-hero capes. Made curtains to hang over the craft closet to hide clutter; and used sheets to cover furniture or carpeting on times there is snow and the grandsons are here. If making a pillowcase dress it’s fun to add the decorative hems of those thrifted or handmade by a relative. Of course we have all seen the old movies where someone like Greer Garson has been on holiday and came home to take the dusty white sheets off the furniture in her parlor!

  • Amanda says:

    Be careful when using old sheets for a drop cloth when painting. The paint can soak through. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. 🙁

  • Uhoh! I’ll add an edit in there to make sure to do double layers next time!

  • oh holland says:

    I volunteer at an animal shelter and Cheryl’s right, old sheets are welcome all the time.
    Also, animal-related, so nice of you to say you hate that Martha wears fur, but a couple of years ago she swore it off and did a video about fur for PeTA, so I do believe her “rehabilitation” was sincere!

  • jja says:

    I bring them to the animal shelter where my cats are from. They always need some.

  • Actually I was referring to my mom wearing them… Good for Martha though!

  • Lisa A says:

    I’ve got an old pillowcase full of old sheets that I’m about to dye different colors and crochet into a little rug for my 4 year old daughter. She designed the colors she wants, “like a rainbow.” I had planned to try to make a braided rug until I saw this:
    Since I already know how to crochet, it seems like a fun and easy project. I’ll try to post a picture to photobucket when it’s done. Thanks again for all your inspiring ideas!

  • Jill says:

    I had to search back through Design*Sponge’s archives, but I KNEW I remembered this. There was a DIY like a year ago to make cushions out of old bedsheets and duvet covers — I think my kittens would LOVE this, and they’re so eco-friendly!

  • seo company says:

    Awesome article and very interesting subject! Thanks for the amazing read!

  • katie says:

    oh benita, how i would love for you to come to my house. then, of course, i’d need weekly doses of your energy and your ability/drive to STAY organized! (note i say WEEKLY cuz i think if it was daily i’d self-combust!) you are a treasure! your family is blessed! i am too (blessed by you)…just from further away! i feel like i’m in continual de-clutter mode and while i’ve made leaps of improvement i still feel like i deal w/ a lot of continual clutter. =)

  • katie says:

    that closet (is it downstairs?) w/ the buckets on rollers: are those buckets from ikea? did they come w/ casters or did you install them? =) details i need details! =) i’ve oft wanted to put ALL my furniture (almost) on rollers. i have yet to do it to even one pc. but wouldn’t that make life so much easier???

  • Jill says:

    No problem! I am a knitter, and less experienced at crochet than I’d like. Otherwise, I would have already made those cushions and sent photos to you! 🙂

  • It’s under the stairs in the basement. The roll out bins aren’t from IKEA, I got them from a local department store, Åhléns. They’re made of cardboard and the wheels are attached when you buy them. Perfect for storing out of season shoes, bags, sports equipment etc.

  • norma says:

    What type of sheets do you buy so that they age softly? I seem to hit and miss in this area and can never remember which ones are the good ones.

  • I make sure they are 100% cotton, that’s all. I’m not into buying expensive sheets, but I like then to have some sort of texture like seersucker och ribbed weave. A lot of the sheets I’ve used have been older sheets inherited my my mom or MIL though and the are flat weave.

  • Abby says:

    Thanks for all the sheets repurposing tips! I save our flat sheets to make little forts for my
    for my little guys. I simple throw a sheet over our dining room chairs that I have arranged. Instant fun on a rainy day!!

  • Lisen says:

    Love reusing and repurposing, and your blog is great for inspiration!
    I never bin cotton or linen fabric. I have inherited some old linen tablecloths that are very worn, but linen is even better than cotton for drying glass and mirrors.
    I save any pieces with embroidery or monogramme for sewing little scentbags to put in drawers or closets. Just fill with dried lavender, or something else nice smelling.
    Another obvious way is to use a monogrammed,laced or embroidered piece with other fabric to make cushions. I’m thinking a monogrammeed cotton square in the center of a stripy or coloured cushion, or a line of lace at the side.
    I’ve crossed over to being so stingy/frugal/environmentally friendly that I even use old socks for cleaning shoes. And I suppose everybody already knows old nylon pantyhose is fabulous for polishing shoes?
    I think I remember seeing you making a cushion from your husbands old shirt. You probably mentioned it then, but you could also make a fabric shoulderbag/shoppingbag from an old shirt, with the frontpiece sewn shut.