Recycling Fabric Scraps into a Picnic Cloth
Simple sewing and quilt patterns turn fabric scraps into outdoor material.
By using fabric scraps, the author avoided wasteful paper and uncomfortable vinyl alike. This tablecloth cost him just 78 cents.
PHOTO: FRANK GRANT
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!