Experimenting With Sheets

On a couple of previous blogs I shared some blocks that I am making using solid fabrics.  What I didn’t mention was that the solid fabrics came from 100% cotton sheets I purchased at thrift shops!

Why did I decide to experiment with cotton sheets? This is how it came about; I was at a thrift shop in the bed linens area looking for flannel for a design wall. It was a special 50% day, I love upcycling, bargins, and I thought purchasing a flannel sheet for about $2 or $3 was much more fun than paying full price at a fabric shop. So while I was in the bedding area I started noticing all the other sheets, all the great colors. I began looking at the tags for fiber content and saw that many of them were 100% cotton.  I have a blast working with upcycled 100% cotton plaid shirts so why not give sheets a try!

I have read a little on the Internet about using sheets in quilting, not all of the articles have been favorable. Some of the issues address the thread count and that the machine needles might break the threads of high thread count sheets.  I considered this and I also inspected the hems on many of the sheets where they have been machine stitched, no signs of fraying or thread breaking.  I’m giving it a try!

Of course I love variety and have purchased many sheets.  Let’s talk $ per yard, I only purchase them on sale days so it works out to about 50¢ per yard!


I did put the proverbial cart before the horse in this case and have completed almost two quilt tops before I decided maybe I should make a smaller sample quilt top and put it to the test.  So I cut up a great assortment into 5″ squares.
five inch squares

I made the test quilt top out of my favorite unit, half-square-triangles!  The darkest fabric is not black but a very dark blue fabric from a sheet.

Test Top

The back is also from a sheet so this entire test quilt is from upcycled sheets.

top and backing

Once this quilt is quilted this is what I am going to do to test it for durability, I’m going to toss it in the dryer with every load of drying that I do. I’m not going to wash it in my top loading washer, I never wash quilts that way, there is too much stress on a quilt in a top loading washer. I will report back on the results. I really do feel confident that these fabrics will hold up, and I will let you know either way.


Pat Speth author of:  Nickel Quilts,   More Nickel Quilts,  Amazing Nickel Quilts,  Nickel Quilts & Borders, and The Big Book of Nickel Quilts

To schedule a Nickel Quilt lecture or workshop contact Pat at the email below.

Email: pat@patspeth.com


8 thoughts on “Experimenting With Sheets

  1. This topic really interests me – I had white cotton on my Christmas list, but my MIL gave me a 300 thread count sheet instead. I eagerly await your follow-up post. If it is favourable my local MCC is going to find itself bare of sheets. All those solid colours look perfect for delving into the modern quilt movement.

  2. Was just reading an article about sheets. It was very negative, so I’m glad you’re doing this experiment. I can’t wait for the outcome.

  3. What a great variety of colors the sheets at your thrift store come in! Years ago (close to 40!), I backed my 6 year old son’s quilt with a sheet – it was all I could afford and no one then said not to, because no one said much of anything about quilting! Anyway, though spots on the front have frayed a bit over the years, that backing is still sound!

  4. The group with whom I work uses sheets for charity quilt backs and for the blocks. The problems we have are when we tie the quilts the needle often takes a pair of pliers to draw through the three layers plus seam allowance. Also to quilt by hand is extremely difficult. True, the quilt back outlasts the top or if used in a quilt block, the fabrics around it.

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