Almanac Throwback: Making A Recyclable Blouseimage preview

Almanac Throwback: Making A Recyclable Blouse

This clever how-to appeared in the 1978 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac Craft Book, a business edition that was given out to home crafters. Each of the craft projects were created by Carol Duvall and illustrated by Joyce Martin.

The Recyclable Blouse


This time the recycling works in reverse. First you sew the dish cloths together and make a blouse. When you’ve grown tired of your see-thru fashion item pull out the stitches and wash the dishes. Though prices have gone up rather startlingly since I first made one of these blouses (four cloths for 97¢) it’s still a bargain.

You Will Need:

  • 6 mesh dish cloths*
  • Cro-sheen cotton thread
  • F crochet hook

*These dish cloths vary in size, design and color though colors are most often a combination of blue and red stripes or green and orange stripes on an off-white background. Cloths should be about 13” x 16” for a size 10-12 blouse or it will be too skimpy.

The crochet thread and hook recommended are what I happened to have on hand. You can use any thread and any size hook that will give you a satisfactory edging.


1. Place four dishcloths side by side and stitch them together as indicated (Fig. 1). When stitching be sure you have the right sides together so the seams will be on the inside. Take very narrow seams so as to maintain as much of the border as possible.

2. Stitch the two end cloths together forming a tube. When placed flat on the table two cloths form the front and two cloths make the back.

3. On the top of the cloths mark a dot 3 ½” in from each side seam. Make another dot 4” down from the top of each of the two side seams. Draw an imaginary line between the two dots on each cloth (Fig. 2). This is where you will cut the fabric for the raglan sleeves.

4. Fold the remaining two cloths in half lengthwise (right sides together) and stitch along the length of each cloth forming two narrow tubes. These will be the sleeves. Note that the seam is on the TOP of the sleeve. Ordinarily it would be underneath but we put it on top so the colorful stripe would show.

5. On each sleeve mark a dot 3 ½” down from the seam along one edge. Make another dot on each sleeve 5” in from the same edge along the fold. Draw an imaginary line between the two dots. This is where you will cut the sleeve (Fig. 3).



6. Stitch sleeves to blouse along the four angles allowing a ½” seam (Fig. 4).


7. Turn blouse right side out and double crochet around the neckline, the waistband and the edge of the sleeves. Try to keep your stitches evenly spaced. No doubt the weave in the dishcloth will help you with this.

8. Chain stitch a cord and pull it through the stitches at the neckline for a drawstring. Repeat the procedure for the waistband.

9. Wear your blouse as is or over a turtle neck shirt or a long sleeved blouse depending on the weather, the occasion and your wardrobe. When you tire of your blouse undo the stitching and wash the dishes with it!

Sizes: This blouse should fit any size between a 10 and 16 though it is possible that for the larger size you might need to cut a larger armhole opening. This is also true if you will want to pull the drawstring tighter so the neckline is higher. You might also wish to make drawstrings for the sleeves. And because of the loose weave of the fabric it might be a good idea to overcast the inside seams.

Important: If you can’t find the dish cloths with dish towels, etc., look in household cleaning supplies. I found mine next to clothesline rope. They were called Utility Cloths!

If you decide to make this blouse, share the image of it with us on our Facebook page!


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8 months ago

Although I never saw this in 1978, I did make several dresses from Indian bedspreads! Some of my all-time favorites! Would love to see more craft ideas from that era!