Call me crazy, but as much as I love gorgeous table linens, I have a hard time spending a lot of money on them. That amazing hand-blocked tablecloth? Is a magnet for barbecue sauce. And am I really going to wipe my corn-buttered hands on those intricately embroidered napkins? Um, I'll just use my pants, thanks. I do love the look of unique linens, though, and if you do too, click through to see how I get the same style on a budget.
The secret here is buying used. Cheap fabric--cheap vintage fabric!--can often be bought at garage and estate sales and thrift stores for just a few dollars, and if you aren't lucky enough to find uncut yardage, keep in mind that fabric is easily transformed from one thing to another. That beautiful cotton dress with a stain on the bodice? Cut the skirt into the perfect floral napkins for your picnic basket. That brand new top sheet that ended up at the thrift store simply because its package was missing the bottom sheet? It would look super cute as a picnic tablecloth. Keep your eyes open for similar treasures around yard sales and clearance racks, and also while you're cleaning out your own closets.
If you have a sewing machine, you can make quick work of napkins and tablecloths by cutting the edges with pinking shears and then turning the ends under twice to hem. If you don't have a sewing machine, check out the range of hemming tapes and glues available to help you get the job done.
If you're feeling squeamish about using thrifted fabric, see if this helps: Wash the item on the hottest setting possible for that particular fabric and/or seal the fabric in an air-tight bag for several days to kill any critters that might have hitchhiked home. (I know, gross, but such is the life of a thrifter.)
Sure, upcycling your own linens is a little more time- and effort-consuming than one-clicking online, but you can't quite beat the pride of one-of-a-kind items that cost a fraction of what they're worth. And if they end up with a big blob of barbeue sauce on them, that just means you can look forward to making more.
Have you ever made your own table linens?
Image © iStock.com/Cameron Whitman