Ten Ways to Re-use Your Old Clothes

26th June 2009 15 Comments

I have to admit I’m one of these annoying waste not, want not types. People who know me will agree, we have a fairly large house. You can’t actually get into many of the rooms though, for the stuff I have acquired and refuse to chuck out. Should you fancy doing a museum exhibition on toys from the late 1970’s to 1980’s, well, I can provide you with near enough my entire original toy box. Chock full of yellow lead paint Rubix cubes and other noxious things which I don’t want my kids to play with, its only use in the last few years has been for a museum exhibition and for something to get out and look at, discuss and put back again.

Should you require a baby walker, well I have at least 5 thanks to a Mother and Baby magazine product trial I did for them. I can’t get rid of even one, as I don’t know which one baby Fifi will prefer. Its the same with pushchairs (Ive discussed this before), highchairs, books, clothes, cookery items and so on.

There are reasons for this; For example, the Frost French season one cardigan that I took to the charity shop in an act of blatant clearing out, now worth a fair few squid due to their designer fame. For, me even more distressing is the loss of the series of concert tickets detailing the bands I saw in the early 1990s, this included Oasis, Pulp, Blur and Nirvana before they made it big (sob). However, I have Freecycled a lot of stuff, curtains, curtain poles, grill pans, rabbit hutches, carpet, bags, jars and so on. This would be good if I hadn’t actually looked at Freecycle and acquired a lot more stuff to replace it all. I’m banned from looking at it at the moment.

Anyway, back to my recycling week pledge, to recycle textiles. Now, if I don’t buy anything, there won’t be a net overall gain in stuff in the house, so this will be good. I have to admit, Ive not actually been actively doing the pledge long enough to show the results. Although I will try to over the next few weeks. However, I thought I would share with you some of my tips for recycling textiles when sewing (please remember though, if the item is really good, its worth Free-cycling, Ebay-ing or sending it to the charity shop);

1. Use your scraps to make applique letters for kids T-Shirts or an apron like Anjie did here.

2. Make a quilt or a rag rug from the scraps.

3. Use old bed linen as lining in dresses- the dress I made for my sister’s wedding for baby Fifi was lined with one of our old duvets!

4. When you get fed up of your old duvets, simply cut them down and make them into ones for the cot/ junior beds. I’ve done this really successfully for Toddler boy and it really requires no skill whatsoever. You could also make some sheets for the cots this way very easily.

5. I have re-used hubby’s PJ tops and old work shirts by using the fabric to make myself and Toddler boy tops and T-shirts depending on the fabric. I’m also intending to make baby Fifi some simple shift dresses.

6. You could use fabric to make little party bags, this way, the kids can even keep the bag. You can even make toy storage bags this way.

7. You could use some of the fabric to make little soft toys.

8. Shorten old fashioned long skirts or dresses, this is easy to do and can give something a new lease of life. You don’t even need a sewing machine, just a needle and thread would suffice.

9. Add ruffles and flowers made from your old scraps of material to plain T-shirts and dresses to create a bit of detail.

1o. Use old fabric to make t-towels or dish-cloths

For those of you who are using the old, ‘I can’t sew’ excuse. Here are a couple of helpful web-sites:
Burda Style
About Sewing

Don’t forget buttons on your old clothes, you could use these on all the new clothes you make, or you could give them to the kids (provided they don’t eat them) to stick to home-made birthday cards etc etc. Zips can be re-used again on bags, new clothes or even as applique style designs on things!

Happy sewing, don’t ask me if you get stuck though, im a relative beginner myself!

Claire Walsh

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  • Amy 26th June 2009 at 4:14 pm

    some great ideas! I am just about to embark on learning to sew properly and this was a well timed post! xx

  • The wife of bold 26th June 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Wow i never knew there were so many ways to re use my textiles…i particularly like the one about making party bags, now there's an idea! I am useless though at anything remotely practical so i think i might just head all my old gear down to the local charity shop 🙂

  • Laura McIntyre 26th June 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Great ideas, thanks for the website..i have been wanting to learn to sew for ages

  • Muddling Along Mummy 26th June 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Great ideas – I really need to learn to use a sewing machine so I can do something with the clothes I can't bear to throw out

  • Rebel Mother 26th June 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Very clever of you. However I&#39;m hopeless at this kind of stuff, my grandmother was fantastic – she learned invisible stitching! No lie – during the war!<br><br>I feel for you about the tickets though – I saw Blur at the Shepherds Empire before it closed and before they were famous. Absolutely brilliant. RMxx

  • Karin 27th June 2009 at 9:11 am

    You&#39;re far too clever woman! I have quite a few t-shirts that I cut down with the intention of making shopping bags with them. They&#39;re still in the cut phase…I own no machine and can&#39;t even fathom trying to do it with just a needle and thread. I have also thought about making old duvets into bedding for Little Miss- sort of like that toddler Gro Bag for the bed…same issue…no

  • Kelly 27th June 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Oh this is a really interesting post. I do sew a bit, but basically only anything in a straight line. Thanks for the useful links.

  • ALMOST MRS AVERAGE 28th June 2009 at 10:42 am

    Wow – I love this, very inspirational and makes me want to clear the dining room table and bring down my later mother-in-law&#39;s sewing machine from the loft, which is big news because I have so many hang-ups over sewing since my schooldays. I&#39;m looking forward to including this in the carnival. Thanks so much for joining in. 😀

  • Anjie 29th June 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I like your ideas for recycling old clothes, a quilt is a fantastic idea each scrap could hold a memory (child&#39;s first little shirt/dress for example) and create an heirloom.<br>I had all good intentions in taking part but time has not been on my side so I am going to try and include more &#39;makes&#39; that recycle and join in that way

  • Pippa 1st July 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Hello there is an award for you over at mine!

  • Grit 1st July 2009 at 10:04 pm

    fantastic! a real thank you for those! we have an expression here when no-one can be bothered to sew. it is, &#39;get out the glue gun&#39;.

  • Really Rachel 2nd July 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Great tips! Have you also thought about keeping a button box? I used to love sorting out my mum&#39;s button collection.<br>There&#39;s an award waiting for you at mine, by the way, for having such a Lovely Blog :o)

  • Absolutely Write 2nd July 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Re-using and recycling is definitely the way to go. I don&#39;t like throwing things away either, but I also like a clutter-free house. No wonder I&#39;m confused :-/

  • Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy 3rd July 2009 at 9:48 am

    You&#39;re inspiring me. I am going to get the needle and thread out right now and see what I can do. We need some more little people sheets, and I think I can do that…?<br><br>(to be honest, I always found knitting a lot easier than sewing so this could be a bit of a mission)

  • clareybabble 4th July 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I love the party bag idea. My mum is making a a huge blanket made up of squares using old scraps of wool. We use it to cover B up when she falls asleep round there. I really need to learn to sew properly (my mum mends my clothes!), although I can knit!

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