Generally, sheets only wear thin in one or two spots, becoming useless for their intended purpose, but still containing mostly good fabric. For this reason, old sheets, whether your own or some you purchase at a yard sale or second hand store, are a great way to get cheap material for some practical projects. High quality sheets can even provide fabric for decorative crafts as well as making mundane necessities. Here are some project ideas:
1. Cut the sheet up for dishtowels.
You can sew a simple line around the edge to prevent fraying, hem the edge for neat, professional look, or just let it fray. (After all, it is a dishcloth, so it doesn't necessarily need to be pretty!) Some embroidery or applique will make your dishcloth into a sweet, homespun accent for your kitchen. An embellished cloth is also a good, practical housewarming or wedding gift.
2. Sew pillowcases.
Sewing pillowcases is a good easy sewing project, suitable for anyone with access to a sewing machine. Buy some decorative piping to adorn the edges, add embroidery or applique, or leave the pillowcase plain.
If the sheet you are using is old and faded, then the pillowcases made from it are great for "car pillows," "camping pillows," or pillows you use in a playroom or kids room. If they get stained, you won't feel like you ruined something valuable.
3. Make oven mitts or potholders.
A little quilt batting, cut up pieces of your old sheet, and a few minutes with your sewing machine will make a nice potholder or oven mitt. Real cotton quilt batting is necessary for this project, since acrylic is not meant to be heated and will melt if it gets too hot. Acrylic is also a poor insulator and will not protect your table or your hands very well.
Many sewing machines have pre-programmed decorative quilting stitches, so a professional-looking quilted pot holder may be easier to sew than you think. Putting some piping around the edge or adding an embroidered monogram will give it a nice personal touch. If you make matching oven mitts, potholders, and dishtowels, you will have a nice gift set.
4. Pet bedding.
An old sheet makes a great pet-bed cover. Sew the fabric two layers thick or quilt it of possible (again, use the preset quilting stitches on your machine). Make sure to add a zipper or some Velcro so you can close the cover. Even if your pet already has a bed, it's nice to have an extra cover so that you can have one on while you wash the other one. Changing bedding frequently prevents insect infestations and allergies. This applies to human bedding and pet beds equally!