Whether your t-shirt hasn’t looked right in years, or you don’t want to throw out another pair of pants, there are so many ways you can upcycle old clothes to give them a second chance for a new purpose. It’s also a great way to save money, avoid the landfill, and get something new without breaking the bank. Check out this easy guide to upcycling clothes.
With these 6 upcycling ideas you will find new ways to wear that same stylish piece you’ve had for years as well as give your clothes a second life as something new. This guide is also perfect if you’re planning a capsule wardrobe as upcycling clothes minimizes waste but maximizes the number of wears from your outfits.
10 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes
If your clothing isn’t exactly the right thing you are looking for don’t throw it in the trash just yet. There are a few simple changes you can make before you head out to the store and purchase new. These upcycling ideas include changing the cut, color, or even resize a piece to make it work better for your needs.
1. Take in your Clothes
Our weight fluctuates over the years but buying new outfits each time we gain or lose a few pounds isn’t necessary. If you think taking in an item of clothing will give you more wear, there are a few options. Whether you choose to get the sewing needle out and DIY or ask a professional tailor.
For example, if you are working with a shirt that is too big it can easily be transformed into a wrap dress or a skirt. You can also take in the sides and braid them to create a fashionable new shirt. Alternatively, wear large shirts open as a shirt jacket or add a belt, which is very on trend.
2. Change the Color
Whether you fancy adding a pop of color to your wardrobe or feel your items have faded with time, changing the color of your clothing can do wonders. There are so many great tutorials for dip dying, tie-dying or fully dying your clothes.
This is a great way of reusing old clothes that have gone an odd color in the laundry (pinky whites anyone?) or switching up your wardrobe for the season without buying new.
3. When The Cut isn’t Right
When a garment is off size by a few inches it can really affect how often you wear it. Perhaps you have items in your wardrobe you’d wear more if they were longer? Shorter? Perhaps you have a shirt that would be perfect if only it didn’t have sleeves, or if it was a little roomier on the hips?
There are several tutorials out there to make this happen. It’s easier than you may think to remove or add material to transform the cut of your old clothing. An hour or two spent tweaking your shirt could result in a whole other year of wearing it, so why avoid upcycling clothes when your dream piece could be a tutorial away.
Got clothes that are past the point of repair or maybe you just don’t like the style anymore? Here are some ways to repurpose them to get more life out of them and save money.
4. Use Old Shirts to Make Cleaning Cloths
An easy way to reuse old clothes, especially t-shirts and baby onesies, is to cut them into 12×12 inch squares or any shape close to that to make cleaning cloths. Old cotton t-shirts work great as cleaning cloths for wiping down windows, tubs, showers, tiles, and even toilets. Use this DIY Household Cleaner Spray to clean surfaces and then wipe away with those old t-shirts.
You could even skip cutting the t-shirts and just use them as-is to wipe down surfaces in your home. Old-shirts can also be used to clean car interiors, fitness equipment, and much more! Cotton shirts work the best as they absorb more liquid but cotton-polyester blends work too.
5. Make Reusable Dryer Sheets
Cut those old shirts, pants, kids clothes, baby onesies, etc. into 6×6 inch squares or any shape close to that to make reusable dryer sheets. Keep them by the dryer and the next time you need to dry a load of laundry, add 3-4 drops of essential oils like Lemongrass or Lavender (both smells fantastic for laundry or try these 12 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning) to the reusable sheet and toss in the dryer with the clothes. It’s a natural way to scent your clothes without the harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances in store-bought dryer sheets. You could even keep a DIY Linen Spray right next to the dryer and spray the reusable dryer sheets before you toss it into the dryer for the next load.
This is a great way to use fabrics that aren’t 100% cotton (save those fabrics for cleaning cloths). Those polyester blends could work great as reusable dryer sheets.
6. Freshen Up Closets and Dresser Drawers
Cut up old shirts, pants, or baby/kids clothes into 6×6 inch squares or any shape you like to scented closet diffusers. Just add 5-10 drops of essential oils like Lemongrass or Lavender (both help with musty scents in closets and dresser drawers or try these 12 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning) to the cloths and then place in a closet or dresser drawer. You could put multiple cloths in a closet (like one on each end) and even a cloth for each dresser drawer. It’s similar to a sachet of dried flowers but without the mess.
This is another great way to use fabrics that aren’t 100% cotton (again save those for cleaning cloths). Old denim jeans, polyester shirts, wool sweaters, stretchy yoga pants, etc. all work great as scented closet diffusers.
7. Turn Your Old Sweater Into a Pillow
Throw pillows are one of the most affordable ways to add a pop of color to your sofa or bed but they can be expensive. Instead, create your own pillow from an old sweater. All you need to do is cut the sweater so it can wrap around your throw pillow, sew it to the pillow, and you’re done.
This is a popular way to upcycle old clothes as not only will it create unique throw pillows that no one else will have, but as it’s reusing old clothes you won’t need to throw away your favorite sweater either.
As a tip, this also makes a perfect DIY gift idea, for example, if you upcycle kids’ clothes for grandparents. That way, they can have a handmade reminder of your little ones in their home.
8. Make a Braided Belt
Before you throw away that old shirt with holes or with the stain that even the best laundry detergent can’t get out, consider upcycling instead. One of the easiest ways to give an old shirt a second life is by turning it into a braided belt.
Best of all, you can create two new clothing pieces from this one upcycling idea. This is because you only need about four strips of your shirt for the belt and the remaining shirt piece could be a stylish crop top – or belts for family and friends.
9. Turn an Old Shirt into a Reusable Bag
A quick online search will provide a sea of tutorials on how to transform an old shirt into an eco-friendly bag. Not only will this give your old shirt a second life but it will mean saving money on buying a new bag too. You can make tote bags or even handbags by reusing old clothing with some tutorials taking just a few minutes.
Whether you feel stuck in a style rut and fancy a fashion revamp without the cost, or you simply want to do your part for the environment, these upcycling ideas will hopefully inspire you to make the most of what you have.
Getting a few moments to yourself to get out the sewing kit and create something new that hasn’t cost you a penny can be a rewarding and therapeutic experience. Whether you upcycle old clothes into gifts or garments, you’ve saved them from landfill which is a trend I hope never goes out of fashion.
10. Reuse Old Fabrics for Gift Wrapping
Cut old t-shirts, sheets, linens, curtains, denim jeans, etc. Wash them to get them clean, and then cut them into square or rectangular shapes to make your own gift wrap. The next time you gift a present to a friend or family member, use a cloth to wrap it up and tie with ribbon, string or raffia. It makes a beautiful gift that give those old clothes another use.
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- Decluttering Your Home – 60 Things To Do Right Now
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- 10 Steps to Declutter Your Home
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