Money was tight during my single years. I lived on one income and had  a car note, mortgage, and everyday living expenses. It wasn’t unusual to find me picking up extra jobs to help make ends meet. Having extras was just not in the picture. Aunt Dot taught me early in life to save my dimes, and set those aside for ‘a rainy day’. For her, a rainy day was when you came across something you just couldn’t live without. Those dimes would become an umbrella.

My parents gave me a check each year for my birthday. There were conditions behind it – I couldn’t use it to pay bills, or buy any necessities. I had to do something for me. It was the only time conditions were put on any monetary gift, but my mom was firm on this one. So, that birthday money was usually tucked in with my dimes for those ‘rainy days’.


One day, my mom handed down an old crocheted tablecloth that had belonged to my Great Aunt Beaulah. Wow. It was gorgeous, and I hated that it wasn’t something I could use every day. And then a lightbulb came on. Wouldn’t it be cute if I…

I tucked my money in my pocket and went shopping. There was a fabric store which was going out of business, and I headed there first. Pay dirt. I found several yards of two coordinating fabrics which would work perfectly for my plan. Next, I headed to Wal Mart and found a queen-size sheet that would finish off my idea. I headed home with rainy day funds left over, and put my idea together.

Out came my sewing machine. With Aunt Emily’s help, I put together an ensemble for my bed. I made a box pleat dust ruffle and four pillow shams – two European (the big square pillows) and two regular (that would fit a queen-sized pillow). The dark green queen-size sheet went on the bed over my regular sheets. The tablecloth was spread across the top of that. The pillows finished off the look. For roughly $25.00, I had a bedroom set that looked like I spent a small fortune.

Use Your Imagination

It is amazing what you can do when you let your imagination run wild. A new look doesn’t have to cost a lot. You need the ability to look at things in a new light, and magic happens. A simple, vintage crocheted piece turns into so many things – curtains, pillows, lampshades, or even a bed covering.  I still use this set in my guest bedroom. This room I change according to the season, and because of the colors, I use this set in the fall. It’s still gorgeous, and is a real conversation piece.

Want to change things up a bit? Try searching your closet. Pull out a few of those stored items and think about all the ways they can be used. It’s frugal. It’s original,  and it makes good use of something that would otherwise just take up space.

How do you re-purpose things at your house? Let me know – I still have a closet full of vintage pieces I just can’t let go of!


Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. I have several crocheted tablecloths and bedspreads but thye stay in the linen closet while I have cats.

    1. Thank you, Kim! I know that feeling well, with four dogs. However, I keep the guest room door closed – otherwise that crocheted tablecloth wouldn’t be big enough for a doll house table!

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