Bright ideas for reviving & repairing old fabrics

June 23, 2015

You probably spent good money on the fabrics in your home, such as linens, curtains and upholstery. Rather than tossing them out if they have started to wear, try these tips to breathe new life into old fabrics.

Bright ideas for reviving & repairing old fabrics

Reviving fabrics

Most old fabrics just need a bit of creative care or reinvention, rather than a trip to the garbage heap.

  • If your curtains are too short, try lengthening them by adding coordinated bands of a similar weight fabric or by adding a border at the bottom.
  • Turn faded curtains into a set of cushion covers, dyeing them to match your decor.
  • Rejuvenate old towels and bed linen with a dye bath.
  • Extend the life of worn sheets by cutting them in half and sewing them with the threadbare part on the outer edges. You can strengthen the edges with binding if necessary.
  • Make a felted throw by putting old or unwanted pure wool sweaters in the washing machine and washing them on a hot cycle until the fabric shrinks and felts. Cut equal-sized squares from this felted fabric (the wool fibres are now so matted that the edges will not unravel) and stitch them together to create a cozy wool throw or bedspread.

Dyeing fabrics

Using dyes, you can change the colour of most items made of fabric. Keep in mind that loose weaves dye better than close weaves and that natural textiles dye more satisfactorily than synthetics.

  • Before dyeing, always wash items in the hottest water they can stand. This removes manufacturers' finishes, grease and dirt.
  • Hot dyes result in faster colours, but be sure that your fabric can withstand hot water.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda to a hot dye mixture to help it spread evenly.
  • Use cold-water dyes on fine-textured fabric such as silk or muslin.
  • Make natural dyes from household and garden items, such as onion skins, turmeric, tea, coffee, berries and flowers. For optimal results, most require mordants – chemical fixatives – but these can be toxic and should be handled with care. Explore online or do some research at your local library for detailed recipes and instructions.

Patching leather, vinyl and heavy fabrics

Sewing up a tear in leather, vinyl or certain heavy fabrics may do more harm than good. Try gluing on a patch instead.

  • Use a razor blade to cut a neat circle or square around the rip.
  • Glue a backing of similar material behind the hole.
  • Trace the hole on paper to use as a pattern.
  • Cut the patch from an inside or underside area of the upholstery using the paper pattern.
  • Carefully glue the patch onto the backing.

Rejuvenating old or worn fabric is good for your wallet and the environment, as well as being an excellent opportunity to do some creative redecorating around the house!

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