As any seamstress could tell you, learning to sew changes the way you see and interact with ANY fabric. I can't donate clothing to Goodwill without first thinking about all the ways I could refashion each garment. I can't stay in a hotel without instantly knowing whether the sheets are cotton or polyester. And I certainly can't go to Ross or Marshall's without scouring their discounted linens for my next dress. If The Sound of Music is any indication, I can only assume that seamstresses have been repurposing home fabrics for ages.
I made this dress using vintage McCall's 4535 (ca. 1975) and a $10 tablecloth purchased from Ross. The tablecloth was light blue linen with a white border. I used the white border for the contrast patch pockets and the ruffle (or frill) on the lower hem of the dress.
The absolute best thing about repurposing this tablecloth was that unlike traditional cuts of fabric, it was already finished along all of the edges. Using these finished edges for the white ruffle at the bottom of my dress, I didn't have to hem it! However, the white border of the tablecloth was slightly more narrow than the pattern piece for the ruffle, so I modified the ruffle to be a little shorter. I finished the dress with two heart shaped buttons.
In addition to tablecloths, I have made dresses from discounted sheet sets. With a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and pillowcase, even a twin set provides ample yardage with a width greater than 60 inches (typically the widest apparel fabric you can buy). The possibilities are endless! While I have yet to pull a Maria and repurpose curtains, I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting fabrics!