How To Make a Quilt From Bed Sheets

How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: Sew on a budget by using new or used bed sheets to back and bind your quilts!

If you're trying to quilt on a budget, you may have wondered, "Can I make a quilt from bed sheets?" Quite often, bed sheets are much cheaper than buying equal amounts of quilting fabric. But if bed sheets can be used to make a quilt, why aren't more people doing it? Or are they? And is this money-saving fabric hack right for you? 

In this blog post, Amari from @nextgenquilting is here to tell you that bed sheets can be a great option for quilts! Lots of people are using them (just maybe not talking about it), and after reading this post you will also feel confident making a quilt from bed sheets!

Here are Amari's top 8 tips and tricks for making a quilt from bed sheets, plus a bonus cheat sheet showing you how much yardage you can get from different sized sheets.

How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: A bed sheet about to be washed in a washing machine. #quilting #sewingdiy

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How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: Two packs of new bed sheets showing that they are low count 100% cotton. #quilting #sewingdiy

Tip 1: Choose Low Thread Count 100% Cotton Sheets

When making a quilt from bed sheets, choose 100% cotton sheets with a low thread count (think 300 or less) so that it blends well with your other cotton quilting fabrics. Unlike 100% cotton sheets, those made from other materials like stretchy polyester or microfiber can be more challenging to work with. 

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At the end of the Week 4 Adventureland sew along post, Suzy shows a sample quilt that used a bed sheet for the backing. The sheet is not 100% cotton — it’s microfiber. Microfiber is a little softer (which I love!), but I also didn't quilt the quilt myself. If you choose to experiment with bed sheets that are not 100% cotton, double check that it's ok with your longarmer or if you're quilting it yourself, make a tiny quilt sandwich and run a test to make sure your machine tension is adjusted accordingly and that you like the finished result.

How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: A seam ripper opens the seams of a bedsheet. #quilting #sewingdiy

Tip 2: Rip Seams to Maximize Fabric Quantity

When using sheets for fabric, you’ll want to maximize the amount of usable fabric. This means ripping the seams along all of the edges (including removing the elastic from the corners of fitted sheets) and even deconstructing pillowcases if you purchased a sheet set. Carefully remove all of the stitches and iron the sheets nice and flat.

Tip 3: Shop Your Linen Closet First

Do you have old sheets in the back of your linen closet gathering dust? Reduce fabric waste and breathe new life into them by making a quilt from bed sheets! Give sheets a good wash, rip out all the seams, press with a hot iron, and save money along the way.

Tip 4: Watch for Sheet Sales

Home goods stores run sales on bedding throughout the year — think back-to-school college dorm necessities and holiday sales like Black Friday. If you’re thinking about making a quilt from bed sheets, save money by stocking up on them when they’re on sale!

How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: Bed sheets in a store in a variety of colors and fun prints. #quilting #sewingdiy

Tip 5: Look for Fun Prints

Bed sheets come in all kinds of interesting prints and patterns – from low volume to high contrast. Find something you love that will complement the other fabrics you plan to use in your quilt. Hint: shop kid’s sheets for vibrant and colorful options!

How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: A bed sheet about to be washed in a washing machine. #quilting #sewingdiy

Tip 6: Consider Prewashing

If you don’t usually prewash your fabric, you can likely get away with using unwashed, brand-new sheets in your quilting project. However, if you’re repurposing some well-loved bed sheets from your linen closet, think again. Having been washed several times after each use, these sheets have had plenty of opportunity to shrink to their smallest size.

But the other, unwashed quilting fabrics in your project haven’t. And that means your quilt may shrink up unevenly when you go to wash it. So, if you’re giving old bed sheets a second life in your quilt project, pre-wash all of your fabric before you get started. You’ll thank you me later.

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Tip 7: Calculate Your Fabric Needs

Ok, so you found the perfect set of bed sheets in a print that you love and it’s going to look amazing in the quilt pattern you’re about to make. But how big of a sheet do you need to meet your fabric needs? Should you spring for the king size? Or can you get away with the twin-sized sheet and save a little cash?

Use the following chart to help guide you. Keep in mind that fitted sheets are typically 20-30" shorter in length and width than their flat counterparts. Also, you may want to use the bed sheet for binding as well as backing like the Adventureland quilt above.

Sheets work great for quilt backs since they are typically much wider than traditional yardage (which you often have to stitch together to create a piece large enough for your needs). For a quilt back, select a flat sheet that is at least 8″ wider and 8″ longer than your quilt top. This will allow you to have 4" of excess all the way around when you go to assemble your quilt sandwich.

How To Make a Quilt from Bed Sheets: A pile of bed sheets showing different colors and prints. #quilting #sewingdiy

Tip 8: Purchase Extra to Create a Set

When using sheets for fabric in your quilt, consider purchasing an extra set for your bed. Throw your finished quilt on top and viola! You have a cohesive bed set that instantly matches!

As you can see, making a quilt from bed sheets has all kind of perks — they can help you save money, reduce fabric waste, and even avoid piecing a quilt back. So, the next time you’re in need of large quantities of inexpensive fabric, consider using bed sheets. And let us know in the comments below if you've ever used new or thrifted bedsheets to make a quilt!

16 thoughts on “How To Make a Quilt From Bed Sheets

  1. Bernadette says:

    Thank you! I will try this! Ive avoided it as a newish quilter, the “quilt police” on FB have always said not to do this, so I’m happy to read your post.

  2. Jill P Davis says:

    I use sheets a lot for my backing because I hate sewing fabric together! I have even used that particular sheet that you show in this article! Love the chart you included. It’s very helpful.

  3. Kai Kinzer says:

    Finally, I can come out of the closet! Been using old sheets for years, but too embarrassed to tell anyone because it felt cheap. Which it was, because when I started quilting I needed to save as much as I could. Now I do it to reduce waste.

    Personally, I’ve never had a problem with higher count sheets, but that might be because they were well worn.

    Finally, another source of wide fabric is cotton shower curtains. And it goes both ways: Once I took a Kaffe Fassett print and sewed it into a shower curtain. This summer I used the shower curtain as backing for a lap quilt.

  4. Teresa Marie Sherbine says:

    I am so happy you posted this article. A lady where I work lost her mother years ago. Her mother had made 2 quilt tops but never finished them. She picked a sheet for one of the quilts for the back. I have never heard of this and was nervous about it as I have been asked to finish them. Thank you!! I always buy 108″ fabric backing and that is thicker than a sheet. This article has given me comfort in that it isn’t uncommon. Tabby wants the sheet used her mother picked. I will give it a try now.

  5. mts says:

    Thank you! I did this 53 years ago one summer and had fabric left over for curtains, a laundry bag and a pajama bag (we had things like that bitd). Having a creative mind and a thrifty heart can make dreams come true.

  6. Laurie says:

    Thank you for this great idea. Sheets sound like a good idea for the outdoor picnic quilt, or the one you keep in your car just in case.

  7. Emily says:

    Another great tip is to check your local thrift stores for sheets. You can get them pretty cheap and they have tons of options! I would just wash them really good!

  8. Wynn n MacNeil says:

    I have not only used sheets for backing but for piecing and I’ve used sheets for the inside layer instead of batting. Can be really cozy especially if they are flannel.

  9. Karen Yanity says:

    Love your article. I have used a sheet for backing once and it worked fine. I plan to do that as much as possible in future quilts. Thank you for the encouragement.

  10. LANE ALLEN says:

    I used an old king sized flannel sheet for the batting in a quilt that I made for my daughter.
    I liked the weight of the finished sandwich. It was quilted by a professional with a long arm quilting machine – her business – and it turned out great. We are moving and I’m giving a lot of my sheets to a foundation for abused and battered women. But the odd-ball ones I may keep to put in with my fabric sale for backings. Great ideas here always, thank you.

  11. CHRISTINE E-E says:

    Suzy, I absolutely love that you think of inexpensive ways to quilt…. for the purist quilters I’m sure they are shaking their heads at learning many of us use sheets for linings, pillow backs, napkins, etc. I can’t resist some of the cute sheets prints.
    I’m loving The Cutting Table subscription. I hope it is something you will continue to write.

  12. Denise P says:

    So delighted I found your site.!!! So happy you share your knowledge and thoughts. Love your voice on video, love your work. Thank you for all you do Suzy!

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