More linen refashions

I’ve had a happy time this year refashioning quite a lot of old linen but I haven’t been very good at documenting some of them, so hopefully this post will begin to redress this omission.

My first exhibit is this very simple tank, using Vogue 8062, which I bought in the late 1980s.

I also bought the fabric at around the same time. It is some sort of table linen, with the embroidery only at one end. I actually bought two of these to turn into two tops and I think I had a very simple style of top in mind with the embroidery at the neckline, which never eventuated, so this is also my entry for the Neglected November theme for Magamsewalong on Instagram, as I think 30 years is neglected enough!

The front of the top, with the embroidery at the bottom. The front took most of one of the cloths.IMG_5765

And the back with different embroidery at the bottom. The back also used most of the second cloth. IMG_7879

I made view A, but slashed and spread the pattern to take up the full width of the fabric at the bottom.


I should really have curved the bottom of the pattern, but I wanted to keep all the embroidery, which I did manage to achieve. This pattern is lovely, I’ve made it often, usually view B, but the facing method is extremely neat.

I also made a Sorrento bucket hat, which is a free pattern from Elbe Textiles, many of which I’ve made before, but this one is my favourite. It’s made from four table napkins which belonged to a set my mother had.

The napkins had a little piece of embroidery in one corner, which I cut off and appliquéd back on. One side is the original flax colour


and the other side is a beautiful blush pink achieved with an avocado dye, after mordanting with soy milk. I used two of the corner pieces on this side as I loved the pink with the dark stitching.


I really love this hat and it’s just perfect in our current weather.img_8566.jpg

Out in the wild, with the top and hat. I was walking a friend’s dog as she is incapacitated after surgery. I had to prop my phone on a fence to take the photo and I think Annie got a bit confused but we’ve had some very enjoyable walks and she is the sweetest little dog.


Another tablecloth shirt is one I made early this year, and it’s been on two holidays with me.

This tablecloth was thrifted and I think it cost me less than a dollar. It was pretty dirty and had a few holes in strategic places. I scoured it gently in soda ash and all the stains came out, but a few more holes appeared in the process. IMG_2341

I managed to cut round many of the holes, and those I couldn’t cut round, I simply embroidered over.

I used the Gingham Buttondown pattern from the Japanese Sewing Book “Simply Sewn”.

I managed to maximise the embroidery, and I think the front is quite pleasing. There is a line of embroidery running down each sleeve, and the collar also has a line. I used small pearl buttons from my stash which are just perfect. IMG_2390

I was also pretty pleased with the back. IMG_2392

I did think about eliminating the back yoke, but it gave me an opportunity to include a bit more of the embroidery.IMG_2393

I wore this shirt quite a bit on our trip to the UK – here I am in the Glasgow Necropolis in MayIMG_6305

and the ubiquitous back view. IMG_6308

I had quite a bit of the linen left over. This is quite beautiful fabric, it goes soft and floppy when wet and when it’s dry it behaves as though it’s starched. Of course it creases rather alarmingly but I still didn’t want to waste it.

I managed to get a short sleeved top from the scraps, using the Kingfisher top pattern from The Sewing Revival. I made this one whilst camping and was rather pleased with how it turned out. I did a split bottom as the edging is doubled. I stopped the side seams at the border and simply tucked the edges of the hem in and slip stitched them.


I managed to use most of the embroidered elements, and then did quite a bit of hand embroidery to cover holes and give consistency by embroidering over some of the seam lines. I tried to copy the original style of embroidery, and it’s a bit dodgy, but I did enjoy it.


This one went to the US with me and it was worn and worn. IMG_8784

I still have some scraps, mostly the edging which is done with an entredeux stitch. I finished up with a line of it down the centre back of this top, but it’s actually quite difficult to incorporate into a design. Stay tuned for this next one!





16 thoughts on “More linen refashions

  1. Fantastic makes Fadanista! You go above and beyond & I think this sort of matching surpasses matching of strips – which I have seen you do well also. My head is swirling with ideas after reading this blog…time I need more time!

  2. Love these tops, so clever, and the embroidery makes them so special. You did such a good job. I have napkins and other linen embroidered by my grandmother which I hope to incorporate into tops, yours are very inspiring, thank you.

    1. I would be so nervous about something embroidered by my grandmother, but if you can keep them going, then that’s a real treat for everyone. It’s so sad that we don’t have the need for so much linen now – I have a couple of tablecloths that I use with matching napkins and that’s about it!

  3. You’ve done a beautiful job positioning all that embroidery – lovely to see vintage fabric being worn and enjoyed.
    Btw, I can’t believe you traveled in white linen!

    1. Haha, re travelling in linen! we tend to try and rent apartments with washing machines here and there, so I can wash, dry and iron. If I spill something, I can usually get it out with a bit of soda ash, and I always take a smidge with me.

  4. Sue, you’ve made the most of these vintage table linens/embroidered tablecloth. Your tops are all fantastic! I really enjoy looking at your sunny pics, though they make me jealous of your lovely weather.

    1. Ah, the weather is still pretty nice, it will get too hot in the next couple of months. Thank you dear Hélène, I am so pleased with this top, but my dear old mum would not be thrilled that I’m cutting into her well preserved table linens!!

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