dress upcycled from a tablecloth

#usedtobeatablecloth: The reveal!

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing” (Camille Pissarro)

And it’s over. The summer and the #usedtobeatablecloth challenge too. Hopefully some of you have found inspiration here in the past few weeks, and there are tablecloths out there turned into something wearable and cherished.

Two sewing friends definitely did, and turned their charity shop finds into some beautiful pieces of clothing.

Marijana, from Sew2Pro, found a very similar tablecloth to what I made my Little White Dress from. She decided to dye it to indigo and made a spaghetti strap summer dress. I really love the placement of the lace details and the interesting neckline, and as far as I know there is some leftover fabric, so watch that space!

Kaci, from Textile and Stitch, bought this crochet tablecloth for a mere $1 and turned it into something Anthropologie would sell for about 200 times more. 🙂 I think it’s super difficult to find anything crocheted that doesn’t look too cute or granny like, but with the simple design and it being monochrome, she managed to pick something that goes very well with a contemporary outfit. It might just be my laziness, but I always love a nice use of the border for the hems, and the ones on this jacket look absolutely perfect.

And I’m done with my dress too, finally…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

We went to my favourite park to have a picnic and take some photos (thank you Robbie!), and I think I got a bit more comfortable than I was supposed to in this kind of dress, so I had to pull the dress up a few times… I am now thinking of inserting boning into the sides and maybe even into the front seam lines, but it’s not high on my list of priorities at the moment.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

I already went into detail about how this dress came together, so I will not bore you with that anymore. 🙂 While I was making it, I felt that excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time during sewing.

You know, that feeling when you can see something you are working on taking shape, and you haven’t eaten for 5 hours, because you just don’t want to waste time on that instead of getting to the point where you can try it on for the first time. And you try it on. And you realise that even though you will probably only wear it a handful of times, whenever you look at it you will still be happy that you have created something you find beautiful.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

The Secret Costumier - #Usedtobeatablecloth sewing challenge

It used to be a tablecloth…

I was so amazed by the many comments that post about a tablecloth turned into the Little White Dress received, that I decided I will take Marijana’s (from Sew2Pro) advice and set up a little challenge. The aim, quite simply, is to encourage everyone out there with some old linen in the bottom of their drawer, to turn it into the ultimate summer piece.

The prize to be won is that feeling you get when someone asks where you bought that awesome dress/cute top/lovely skirt, and you get to say that you’ve made it with your own two hands…and that it #usedtobeatablecloth.

If you are interested (and I really hope you are!), here is a quick breakdown of the challenge:

The objective:

Turn an old piece of cloth (curtain/tablecloth/napkin/bed linen/etc.) into a garment. To me, nothing says summer more than a heavily embroidered, lacy, romantic summer dress/top/skirt. I think upcycling is the most rewarding way to create a garment. In this case you get to work with some beautiful fabrics, and you are actually doing good by giving a new life to something long forgotten.


  • You will need an old tablecloth/bed linen/curtain/cloth napkins/etc. You could either use something you find at home, or you could buy an antique/vintage one from a charity shop, or from online (eBay is fantastic for this).
  • You can also add trimmings, pompoms, ribbons, or any other materials you have at hand.

What to look for:

  • Your search words should be something like: embroidery, lace detail, drawn threadwork, Madeira, Irish lace, linen, etc.
  • When using vintage materials it is very likely to get some stains or tears on the fabric. Do check for these, but don’t worry too much, with careful designing and cutting, you can get away with most of them.
  • You should also consider the shape and size of what you are buying. For example, a circle tablecloth might work beautifully with certain designs, but it could be very challenging with others.

And here comes the exciting part: what should you make out of your tablecloth you ask?

I made a dress and an off the shoulder top (see above) from mine, with some fabric still left over, but the possibilities are endless. The bigger linen you can get your hands on, the more options you’ll have.

Here are a few inspirational images of clothes probably not made of curtains or tablecloths, but they could have totally been 🙂

12, 3456,  78,  9, 10,  11121314, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 2021, 22,  2324,

Where do I sign up, you ask? In the comments please! I’d love to see what everyone is up to (not just tablecloth refashioning wise, btw), and if you let me know once you’re done, I would love to share your creations here. If you could  just put down your name and your blog’s url/your email address, and say if you’d like to be added to the Pinterest board -so that you can pin there too-, that would be awesome! For now you will find some more inspirational images, but I’m hoping it will fill up with your photos.

You can also use the #usedtobeatablecloth (or curtain/bed linen/whatever it used to be) hashtag on Instagram or Twitter if that’s more your thing.

Since “the ultimate inspiration is the deadline”, here is one:

Saturday 27th August 2016

If you finish your piece earlier, you’ll have more time to wear it and you’ll be able to take some great holiday photos in it. If you finish it just in time, you’ll still have the Indian summer to take it for a test run.

I am making another piece and I’ll share my progress here every week, so if you’d like to follow along, in the next 5 weeks I will post about how I:

  • select the material;
  • choose the design with the fabric in mind;
  • choose/draft the most appropriate pattern;
  • cut and sew the garment.

If you have any questions, need help with anything at all, I am more than happy to help. Happy sewing! 🙂


TheSecretCostumier-Sneak Peak 2


Sneak peak #2


DIY beaded skirt in under an hour

Quick & easy dress refashion

Do you remember this dress I bought a few weeks ago at a thrift store for about £3? Even though it was about 2 sizes larger and I could not picture it on myself at all, I decided to bring it home with me.

It wasn’t only because it was really cheap, but I have tried to sew sequins and beads on garments before and so I knew what a gift it is to have a piece of fabric that is 100% silk and full of hand sewn beads in the fabric pile, just in case. I bought it on the same day as the Zara skirt and I liked how that one looked cool because of its simple design (an elastic band on the waist)- and chic because of the silk scarf print. I thought this could might as well work on this dress if I cut it  in half, so that’s what I did. It was simple as that.

Okay, maybe not just that simple, but I only made one mistake and could correct it after 20 minutes wasted right away, so instead of long instructions, here is the recipe for successfully turning a dress into a skirt in no time!

  1. Measure the length of your new skirt (add at least 5 centimeters on top of the desired length).
  2. Mark it on the dress and cut it (this is the scariest part, I promise!)
  3. Switch your sewing machine to zigzag stitch and neaten the raw edges.
  4. Decide how long you want the frill on top of the skirt to be, then mark this and pin it down, inside out.
  5. Stitch the top seam (mine is 3 cm from the top).
  6. Put the elastic band below the first seam. Hold it there as close as you can, secure the ends with pins and sew below it.
  7. Try on the skirt pulling the elastic to the right fit. Secure this with a pin and take the skirt off carefully.
  8. Stitch the ends of the elastic bands to the skirt and clear the inside of the skirt up.
Click on the photos to enlarge them!

Remember to cut once, measure twice(!), but do not worry too much as it will be hard to spot the length differences since it isn’t supposed to be staying straight on your waist anyway.

The mistake I made was making the casing for the waistband before I inserted it. The casing was just big enough to put it in on the first few centimetres but I could not find a way to pull it through the whole skirt, so after half an hour of intense suffering I gave up on it, acknowledged my mistake, patted myself on the shoulder and well…ripped the second seam out.

Despite this tiny little failure, this skirt is still one of the cheapest/easiest/best looking projects as of yet, so good luck for anyone thinking about giving it a try!

TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 9