If you’re addicted to thrift stores and vintage fabrics like me, you might have a pile of beautiful tablecloths in your stash. I can’t turn down a pretty, embroidered tablecloth at a bargain price, even if it’s spotted with stains.
But I never use tablecloths in my dining room because it doesn’t suit my low-maintenance lifestyle. Instead of letting these tablecloths lie dormant in my linen closet, I upcycled one of them into a vintage-inspired top. The stains didn’t deter me - I simply cut my pattern pieces around the stains and pieced everything together into a blouse with ruffled sleeves and peplum.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to upcycle a tablecloth into a ruffle top and add rickrack as a finishing touch. Read on below or watch the video.
I picked up this large tablecloth at Savers for $5. Look at the sweet floral embroidery! How could I say no to it? It was a large rectangular tablecloth, which would give me lots of yardage to work with. I didn’t notice the stains until I brought it home, but luckily, there weren’t too many stains around the embroidery.
The inspiration and the pattern
I bought this lovely pink blouse on Thredup 2 years ago and often get compliments when I wear it out and about. I like how the embroidered panels were put together, and I realized this would be my solution to all the stains in my tablecloth - cut out the clean parts of the embroidery and sew it together into a top
This Simplicity pattern 8061 (re-issued as 9133) has been sitting in my collection forever. The 4.6 rating on SewingPatternReview.com convinced me it’s an almost fool-proof pattern. Hacking the bust dart into princess seams would yield smaller pattern pieces I can strategically place over the clean embroidery.
Here's a step-by-step overview:
Step 1: Trace the bodice and make a waist panel
I traced size 10 of view D and cut out a 2.5” waist panel on the bodice.
Step 2: Convert bust dart to princess seam on the front bodice
I used this Seamwork princess seam tutorial to convert the bust dart into princess seams. Mark the bust apex 1” away from the bust dart.
Locate the the midpoint of the shoulder seam, and draw a line from the midpoint to the bust apex with a French curve.
Draw a straight line from the bust apex to the waist.
Cut out the dart, and cut the line from the bust apex to the dart.
Tape the legs of the dart together.
Add new seam allowances to the bodice pieces.
Step 3: Sew the front bodice together
Sew the sides of the bodice to the center bodice piece.
Sew the waist panel to the bodice.
Step 4: Cut, gather, and sew the bottom ruffle
Cut a strip of fabric along the hem 1.5x the width of the bodice and 4” tall.
Sew 2 rows of gathering stitches, and gather the ruffle until it’s the same width as the bodice. Sew the ruffle to the bodice.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you’ll notice I reuse finished hems often because I’m a lazy, impatient sewer. Shortcuts like this save me time and produce a clean, polished look.
Step 5: Add rickrack to the seams
The inspiration piece has lace strips joining all the pieces. My original plan was to use crochet lace, but it was way too expensive for my tightwad budget. After racking my brains for a cheaper solution, I found this green rickrack at Joann's. I love the vintage vibe, the pop of color, and the affordable price.
Lay the rickrack over the seams and topstitch.
Step 6: Add princess seams to the back bodice
Hacking the back bodice is a similar process. Cut out a 2.5” waist panel. Mark the midpoint of the shoulder seam and waist, and draw a line connecting the 2 points with a French curve. Add seam allowances to the new seams. Make sure the princess seams on the front and back align with the shoulder seams.
Step 7: Cut and sew the sleeves
Modify the sleeve pattern by extending the short sleeves to ¾ sleeves and cut a 2.5” panel. Cut a ruffle with a finished hem 1.5” the width of the sleeve opening and gather. Sew all the pieces together.
Step 8: Sew the bodice at the shoulder seams
With right sides together, sew the front and back shoulder seams
Step 9: Sew the sleeves to the bodice
Pin the sleeves to the armhole and sew.
I hate sewing inset sleeves and prefer sewing sleeves flat because it's easier, and I don’t get as many accidental pleats.
Step 10: Sew side seams and sleeve seams
With right sides together, sew the side seams and the sleeve seams.
Step 11: Finish the neckline
Sew the neck facing to the neckline, clip the seam allowance, flip it over, and press.
And now it’s time for the obligatory, final photos . . .
Not gonna lie, this top isn’t a perfect replica of the inspiration piece, but it's good enough for me.
The rickrack really highlights the princess seams . . .
And the vintage cottagecore mood is beautifully conveyed through the lovely floral embroidery.
Breathe new life into affordable, beautiful embellished tablecloths by embracing upcycling. Even if flawed, tablecloths can be salvaged by cutting out the best parts, allowing you to create stunning, one-of-a-kind clothes. It's not just about sustainable fashion; it's about celebrating the unique beauty found in imperfections and giving these textiles a second chance to shine. So, let's get creative, repurpose, and redefine our approach to fashion by making the most of what we already have. Cheers to sustainable style and the art of reinvention!