Recycling Fabric Scraps into a Picnic Cloth

Simple sewing and quilt patterns turn fabric scraps into outdoor material.
By Robbie Grant
July/August 1983
Add to My MSN

By using fabric scraps, the author avoided wasteful paper and uncomfortable vinyl alike. This tablecloth cost him just 78 cents.
PHOTO: FRANK GRANT


Content Tools

Related Content

New Hemp Fabric Provides Lycra Alternative

CRAiLAR, a new fiber made from hemp stalks, could revolutionize the sustainable fabrics industry by ...

Don’t Be Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that some bamboo fabrics are actually made of rayon. Four...

MAX Update No. 95: Drawing a Blank and Drafting With DraftSight

An introduction to DraftSight, Dassault Systèmes' 2D CAD software. It's professional quality and it'...

Craftsman Brings Back Classic American Clothespins

Fed up with cheap, easily breakable clothespins, craftsman Herrick Kimball is now making Classic Ame...

While refinishing our picnic table and benches early this summer, I wondered just what I could use for a sturdy, yet attractive, outdoor tablecloth. I knew what I wasn't going to use: I'm tired of the plastic that's made its way into every aspect of our lives, so I refuse to buy any vinyl table drapes. I also refuse to buy a supply of flimsy, expensive paper covers that make me feel I'm destroying a tree every time I use one! On the other hand, new cotton tablecloths can be quite costly, and I don't like to use my "best" linens outside, where they can get irreparably damaged. So what else was left?!

By the time I'd finished re-doing the last bench, I'd finally reached a solution. I decided to go through my boxes of recyclable fabrics and sew my own table cover. One particular crate was nearly filled with old blue-jean material, including cutoffs, castoffs, outgrown shirts, and worn-out pants. Some of these were faded, some were discarded designer fashions, and some were used economy specials: I had them all. I'd been saving them with the idea of making a piecework camp comforter . . . but I needed that tablecloth.

I happened to have enough scraps to make a cloth that would cover my table, with room to spare. (If there had been too few pieces, however, I could have made a runner for the center of the table, instead. . .runners are fashionable now, as well as practical.)

A quick check of my quilt patterns brought to light the simplest possible basic motif a triangle. To make things easy for myself, then, I decided to make a pieced cloth, using triangles measuring 6-1/2" at the base and 6" on each side. It struck me that the sections would look attractive if they were zigzag stitched together with red thread, so I bought two spools on sale, at 39 cents each.

The whole thing took me three or four quiet afternoons at my sewing machine. The bright thread looked so nice that I finished off the cloth by banding it with a remnant of colorful red material I'd saved. As simple as that, there it was. . .a durable, pretty picnic cloth for only 78 cents!

When I spread the cover out, I must confess, the table looked so handsome that I splurged and bought a supply of red bandanna handkerchiefs to use as napkins. Actually, those squares are quite functional, too, since they're 100 percent cotton, and big enough to wipe fingers clean even after a meal of corn on the cob and barbecued ribs.

I should add that I'm still saving old Levi's . . . because my next project is to make cushions for those picnic benches! 







Post a comment below.

 

Alison Green
6/4/2011 11:48:27 PM
My family goes through a lot of jeans and after they have been mended and mended they are too ratty to give away so I have been cutting them in strips and weaving them into rugs, mats and table runners, but I still have many left. Your quilted picnic cloth beautiful and looks sturdy. I'm going to try that next. Thanks for sharing your idea.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.