What to do with flea market cotton garments?

lowraineJune 17, 2012

After seeing a quilt made with 9" squares I decided to look for old looking fabrics found in hand me down garments from our local flea market. I am now growing that stash on a shelf in my craft room. I am undecided on how to cut up the garments, mostly shirts and a few aprons. Any suggestions? I can't see rotary cutting.

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For shirts: I would cut off the cuffs, use the biggest portion of the fabric remaining in the sleeve; remove the front chest pocket(s), cut off the button plackets on both center fronts (button and buttonhole), and use the remaining fabric on the two shirt fronts; cut out the seams and hems of the front and back; cut out the back yoke and use the remaining back fabric.

For aprons: remove any patch pockets; cut off the waistband and sash to use the largest piece of fabric in the apron, then check the sash to see if it is at least 1 1/2 inch wide, of so, save the widest part of the sash. If the pockets are large enough, you maybe can use them too.

Be sure to wash all clothes first and check labels to see that the fabric in the garment is 100% cotton. You can do a burn test to check for fabric content if no label: cut a few thin slivers of the fabric, put in a large metal/glass ash tray, can or bowl. Light with a match and let the fabric burn. Stay with your experiment and keep kids away! When the fire goes out you should have soft grayish dust remaining = 100% cotton. If there is a smell of burning oil or if melted globs of residue result, you do not have 100% cotton, but a blend with some man-made fibers included. That's not to say that you can't use blended fabrics in your quilts, but they may not feel as good as all cotton or react in the wash the same way.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Teresa, I am sitting here now looking at 14 different garments, women's short sleeve summer shirts, all cotton. Would you take them apart and cut them into strips, I guess I just need to decide what quilt pattern I am looking for before I take them apart. Yardage of materials are easy to plan, not so much with garments. This could be very interesting. I first got this idea from a magazine that built a quilt with 8" blocks, maybe I should draw up something and go from there. thanks for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Either squares or strips could be useful, but before you cut, it would probably be a good idea to have a plan. Then you can best utilize your fabric supply.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 2:36PM
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I am cutting them apart now and I have come across some cotton and rayon blend, that has mostly cotton and ironed very well, I also have some rayon only, question how would the rayon be in a quilt that would sometimes be washed. They don't burn or curl when they are ironed.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 3:19PM
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Hi, if you find the fabrics soft since they are used, you may want to consider starching the fabric before cutting. It would help keep the shapes cut. As for the rayon - did you wash that item like you did the other items? And dry the same as the other items? If so the only other consideration would be the wear rate on the rayon. I have old quilts from family that used our old shirts/clothing that have lasted a long time and are still in use after many washings.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 7:44AM
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