How to Sew with Vintage Sheets

(Please note that affiliate links have been used in this post.)

This weekend, I finished my third quilt made solely from vintage sheets. These have been so fun for me, and they are making many memories as picnic blankets in the yard with my boys.

If this is your first time to my site, be sure to check out my first two posts on sewing with vintage sheets.

1. Sewing with Vintage Sheets and a Few Tips I Learned Long the Way

This post focuses on everything I learned and experienced during my first attempts at using upcycled sheets. Here is my first quilt:

2. How to Use Vintage Sheets + Where to Search for Vintage Sheets

Read more in this post about the advantages of using sheets and a few places to search for them. Here’s my second vintage sheet blanket:

Here is the one I just finished this weekend. An Instagram friend saw some of the in-process photos and asked if she could purchase the blanket when I was done. So this one went to my Etsy shop one day and left an hour later!

All three of these look almost identical. I used many of the same sheets with each blanket, as you can see. Cutting up an entire sheet is such an undertaking. It’s so different and inconvenient compared to the half yards and fat quarters of fabric I’m usually handling.

I wanted to mention a few more tips to creating these blankets. I continue to learn, and I believe this third blanket is much better quality than my first two. Here’s why:

1. I used lots of heavy starch.

A reader mentioned using starch in a comment in my previous post on vintage sheets, and this was a game changer. Most of the vintage sheets I’m working with are not brand new. They’ve been used, and as a result, they are not stiff and thick. They don’t hold shape well. Starch has been my best solution to keeping my blocks square.

2. I used a new, thin, sharp, titanium needle.

Even with the use of starch, sometimes I had trouble with my sewing machine eating the fabric. Like I mentioned above, sheets are sometimes thin and flimsy. Some of mine are delicate enough that the needle pushes them right down into the bobbin compartment. I changed to a sharp 80/11 needle. This didn’t solve every problem, but I had MUCH less trouble. The smaller needle glided so much better straight through the fabrics instead of pushing it down through the machine.

3. I sewed the blocks into groups of nine and then sewed the groups together for a well color balanced quilt.

This quilt finished a bit larger than an average throw quilt. I cut 6 1/2 by 6 1/2 inch blocks. I first sewed the blocks into groups of nine blocks (three across by three down.) This was so much easier than laying all the blocks out on the floor to ensure balance of color. By balancing the color in each set of nine, I was guaranteed a very balanced quilt. After sewing nine groups of nine blocks, I sewed them together for a finished quilt measuring approximately 70 inches by 50 inches. The quilt was made of nine blocks across and twelve blocks down.

4. I nested the seams.

I took the time to plan ahead my rows well enough to nest the seams. Nesting the seams almost always ensures perfect intersections. Nesting happens when you iron the seams to the side. One row you iron to the right. The next row you iron to the left. Then when you go to sew the rows together you can easily nest (line up) the intersections for perfect points. The average on looker is not going to notice the intersections off by a few millimeters, but perfecting my intersections and points has been a recent goal of mine. This is a means to improve customer quality for my shop.

5. I started fussy cutting whenever possible.

Do you see the pink and white and orange and yellow daisy clump below? Every single block with that print has been fussy cut. Those clusters were spread fairly far apart on a twin sheet. If I had not fussy cut them, I would have ended up with lots of blank space and the clusters cut sloppily in half. Even though it took lots of extra time, fussy cutting them was totally worth it. I wish I would have done a better job of fussy cutting with the blue tulip print included in this blanket. I will do better next time!

Amidst other projects for friends and family, I plan on making numerous picnic blankets out of my vintage sheet stash in the coming months. If you like them, be sure to follow along on Instagram for updates.

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