Repurpose Those Old Pillow Cases Into DIY Dining Room Table Decor

Linens, especially antique and vintage ones, are often hard to part with. Whether it's because you love the pattern or color, or because it's a long-loved heirloom with a lot of attached nostalgia, deciding to discard old linens, like pillowcases, can be a tough decision. There is, however,  a clever way to repurpose those well-loved pillowcases, whether they have been sitting in your linen closet for years or are a prized new thrift store find. With some basic sewing and cutting, you can turn old pillowcases into stylish 2-ply table linens. 

Old pillowcases are often soft after years of washings, making them great fabric for dinner napkins. They are also highly durable and washable due to their intended use. Perhaps most convenient of all, they are already envelope style, which makes making a 2-ply large, foldable napkin super easy and only involves a few measurements, cuts, and stitches. With older pillowcases available for under a dollar at most thrifts, each napkin is a perfect upcycling DIY and very inexpensive to make.

Making a vintage pillowcase napkin

Vintage pillowcases can often be found in great condition in thrift stores and flea markets. Their dynamic florals, fun patterns, stripes, and ginghams may have one the way of fashion trends but cases from the mid-20th century are often bright and dynamic, making them a great place to start, particularly if you already love vintage patterns as a decor element. Even more recent pillowcases in neutral patterns like florals, stripes, or solid linen can work for this hack if you find yourself with too many on your shelves and can't quite give them up.

To start, place the pillowcase flat. Measure the size you would like for your napkin (9 inches x 21 inches is recommended as a standard size) Cut it out, making sure to cut through both layers. Keeping the corners together, you can fold each edge over and use a sewing machine or hand sew the edges on each side, using a stitch about 1/4 of an inch inside. Continue to sew the perimeter of the rectangle until all sides are completed. Overlapping the corner seams will make the napkins durable.

Creating a beautiful table with old linens

Vintage pillowcase napkins are a great way to spruce up your table. If you have matching sheet sets, you can also use them to create a table runner or tablecloth that matches or coordinates with your napkins. When sewing your napkins, you can also swap pieces of fabric on one side, creating double-sided napkins that have a quilted patchwork look to them. You can also swap out existing sheet fabric on one side for a solid or coordinating fabric on the backside for a luxe look. This is especially lovely with textured fabrics like linen, corduroy, or velvet.

Vintage pillowcases look especially gorgeous as part of a table in a cottage or shabby chic kitchen, while linen solid and striped upcycled napkins work stunningly for farmhouse style and traditional tables. Because many are floral, these new napkins are also great for tea parties and whimsical birthday parties. With a little padding between the layers, they also make perfect placemats or tea towels.