Once upon a time newly married couples would receive linens as gifts. Most were cherished and handled so properly that they look as if they were never even used. Today, children and grandchildren are never quite sure what to do with the family heirlooms they inherit and they will often times try to find them a new home. Over the years I have been given many of these precious old linens.

This dress is a creative project I made with one handmade doily and what I believe was a table cloth.

What You Need


Cut your neckline a little smaller than what you think you want and try it on. I serged mine and then turned it in to sew it down.

Next – cut the large lace doily in half to make your elephant ear or butterfly sleeves.


You can replicate a favorite neckline that you love by tracing over it.

Once you cut you commit. Cutting is where you can ruin your garment. If you are unsure and do not want to destroy your family heirloom pieces consider practicing on a sheet first.


For the bodice piece use your own bust size measurements plus ease (wiggle room, just about 4″ for this fit) and whatever seam allowance you like. I used my serger so I only needed 1/4″ seam allowance. When I use my machine I prefer 1/2″ seam allowance. It makes the math easier.

The Sewing

I finished the neckline first.

I centered the lace doily to my bodice and serged them together repeating the other side.

Once the sleeves were attached I sewed down the sides leaving an 18″ opening for my arms and sewed down the remainder of the bodice.

At this point I was excited to be almost finished. I needed to sew the side seams of the skirt together then gather the top and attach it to my bodice.

If you are lucky and are using a hemmed table cloth you get to skip hemming the dress.


Last I sewed the scraps together to make the belt.


Above is my total waste, mostly the neckline.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh
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