5 Thrifty ways to reuse and recycle your old clothes at home

Today’s thrifty blog post is all about reusing old clothes and has been created in collaboration with beycome, so my thanks go to them for the inspiration for these tips. You see, I’ve finally got out my winter jumpers from the top shelf of the wardrobe this week, and I’ve taken the opportunity to have a bit of a clear out at the same time. If you’re planning a winter declutter too, here are some projects you can create to reuse that pile of old jumpers, shirts & skirts…

Even, if you’ve not switch over to your ‘winter wardrobe’ there could be many reasons to clear out your clothing. If you’ve recently moved house or have moved in with your partner you may now have way too many clothes for your existing wardrobe space. Rather than buying more storage, why not take this as an opportunity to declutter? But before you throw those old shirts and skirts out, there’s plenty of projects that they can be used for. Old clothing is the perfect material for DIYing a lot of other items, and anything that saves you money and keeps material out of landfill is a bonus!

LEG WARMERS, SCARVES & TOTES

Sleeves can be turned into a lot of other pieces of clothing if you’re a little creative. While the obvious uses are anything long and slender like scarves and leg warmers, you can still use the rest of a shirt or jumper to make a cushion (like the one below) – or even cut out panels to create a new skirt. There is no shortage of guides on how to turn any old t-shirt into a tote bag online.

Just try and plan out what you want to do with the clothing before you start cutting. If you’re not sure what you want to use it for, typically you want to preserve as much of the original surface as you can, and if you’re really patient and careful you can open up sleeves and leggings along their stitching for larger useful pieces of fabric.

PILLOWS AND HOME DECOR

This might be a nice warm-up project before you start sewing larger projects, but woolly jumpers and soft cotton t-shirts can be turned into great throw cushions. Chances are you already like the design too! This is one of the easiest sewing projects out there, and can really make for some great gifts if you get the process down. Sweatshirts and t-shirts from festivals and events make for the most memorable pillows.

 

If you don’t need new cushions, perhaps your pet needs a pillow to sleep on? The beauty of making cushions is their versatility – a pillow can be just about any size and you don’t need a sewing machine to make them. It may take a little more time, but you should be able to stitch everything by hand – or use an iron-on adhesive webbing to attach the seams.

QUILTING

Though it might take some time and some more advanced sewing skills, a quilt made from old sweatshirts can be a lasting and memorable use for those old clothes. Not only will those old hoodies and sweatshirts continue to keep you warm long after their usual life, but the memories you had in each will be right there for you every time you get chilly. This is also a great use for old baby clothing that will definitely get outgrown.

Quilts usually have 3 layers. While the old t-shirts provide the decoration layer, you might think about reusing other items as stuffing or backing materials. It’s definitely possible to reclaim all the fabric you need for a quilt from old clothing, but certain parts might be easier with pre-bought materials. It all depends on how patient you want to be with the project.

 

STUFFING

After all these old clothing projects you’re going to find yourself with a ton of scrap material left over. One of the easiest things to do with all the odd pieces is to cut them more-or-less into 1-inch by 1-inch squares and use that for more pillows and stuffing for other projects. Depending on the quality of the material used, they may not be the most comfortable stuffing, but if you’re making decorative items then it’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t sew together the pillow I slept on every night but, for other projects, why not reuse the off-cuts for stuffing?

DONATIONS & COMPOST

While this may not sound like the greatest use of our old clothing, it’s still better than throwing it away. Natural materials are typically compostable, such as organic cotton, silk, hemp, jute and wool. Synthetic fibres are typically plastic-based and are bad for your compost pile so donating clothes or even selling them second-hand is never a bad option if the clothing is still in good shape. If not, then perhaps you have a dog or cat that would absolutely love a new bed liner that smells like their favourite person!

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for re-using your old clothing. Let me know your own sewing hack for making the most of old fabrics and t-shirts etc in the comments below, I’d love to try out some new ideas 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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