Upcycling: 10 Creative Ways to Reuse Old Clothing

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You might think that the old clothes sitting in your closet are good-for-nothing, but they aren’t.

Although thick layers of dust might have covered them by now, there are different ways to repurpose them. So before you toss that one shirt that doesn’t fit you perfectly, that pair of jeans you never really liked, or that worn-out jacket you plan on never wearing again into the garbage bin, you might as well consider upcycling them. Who knows? They might even turn into your favorite accessory or home decor.

Each piece of clothing has potential, and you have the power to unleash it. All you need is a pinch of creativity and tons of patience. So, if you’re up for the challenge, we’ve made a list of great ideas for upcycling old clothing.

What Is Upcycling?

Before we discuss different ways to reuse old clothing, let’s get the basics down first.

Upcycling represents a variety of ways in which an old product gets modified to produce a new one. It is the process of giving old stuff a second life wherein they regain — or even exceed — the value they had before.

When it comes to upcycling clothes, the exact definition applies. You can use a mix of different things and tools to help you transform your old pieces of clothing into something more useful and hip.

Must-try Ideas for Upcycling Clothes

Now that we’ve already answered the question, “What is upcycling?” it’s time to look into different ideas for repurposing old clothes.

1. Turn old cotton shirts into makeup removal pads.

If you have cotton shirts that you don’t want to wear anymore, turn them into makeup removing pads. All you need to do is cut square or round shapes out of them. Depending on the fabric’s thickness, you can sew a few pieces together on their outer edges. Keep in mind that they don’t have to look perfectly neat — just charming.

After doing all these steps, voila! You now have reusable makeup removers. You can toss them into the washer together with your other laundry.

2. Make food wraps out of old clothes.

Do you love to cook? If you do, you must have leftovers most of the time. For covering excess food, you can be a little greener by steering clear of plastics and foils. Make your covers by cutting small patches out of your old clothes. To add texture to the fabric, you can purchase grated beeswax from your favorite local store. Melt it in a pan and apply it to the patches using a brush.

Hang the patches and leave them to dry for about seven to ten days. When they’re ready, use them with rubber bands or ribbons when covering jars and food containers.

3. Transform shirts into cushion covers and curtains.

Those patterned shirts might be a challenge to pair with other pieces of clothing, but they’re perfect as cushion covers. Regardless of their patterns — polka dots, stripes, or floral — they will make a pretty cover for the pillows in your living room. Fret not if you don’t know how to sew; tons of guides and tutorials are available on the internet.

Making curtains is another upcycling idea for you to consider. Cut square shapes out of old patterned shirts and sew them together. Make sure no same pattern is sewn adjacently. This mix-and-match idea might sound a bit weird, but you’ll be fascinated with the result.

4. Make hair accessories from stretchable shirts.

You don’t need to spend money to have new hair accessories. Start rummaging through your closet for pieces of stretchable shirts. Transform them into headbands or scrunchies you can wear while working out, doing the laundry, or even attending a meeting. If you don’t know how and where to start, there are numerous guides you can check out.

5. Turn old fabrics into reusable tissues and wipes.

Tissues and wipes don’t disintegrate right away after disposal. They add up to the tons of waste released back into nature. Thankfully, upcycling can help you advocate for the environment. You can turn old clothes, shorts, and jackets into reusable tissues and wipes. Cut them into uniform square shapes and place them on your kitchen and dining table.

Similar to makeup removing pads, you can toss these do-it-yourself tissues and wipes into the washer together with your other dirty laundry.

6. Use old shirts to make hand warmers.

Let’s face it — the weather can get chilly at times. Instead of buying hand warmers, why not save a few bucks and make your own? Reuse old clothing to form square cutouts measuring five inches per side. Sew two cutouts together and fill the inside with uncooked rice. Heat them in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so and use them during the winter season.

7. Transform old shirts into grocery or travel bags.

When it comes to upcycling clothes, there are limitless ideas. Among the fascinating ones is turning old baggy shirts into grocery or travel bags. Not only does this upcycling idea help you save money, but it also promotes sustainable living.

What’s more impressive is that bags made from old shirts can be as stylish as those store-bought ones you have. All you need to do is scour the internet for creative ways to reuse old clothing and turn them into homemade bags.

8. Make a pet bed cover from wool jackets.

Pets are the best stress relievers. With their funny antics, they make daily living more bearable. The good news is that they can benefit from upcycling too. Similar to making cushion covers, you can spoil your pets by making them a new bed cover. Use old wool jackets or other clothes made from thick fabrics for more comfort, especially during cold nights.

9. Make new pieces of clothing.

Fashion trends change from time to time, and so does your wardrobe. Don’t throw clothes away if you think they have already gone out of style. Upcycling them is the key. Here are some must-try ideas for upgrading your old clothes:

  • Turning t-shirts into halter neck tops, crop tops, and tank tops.
  • Making chokers out of old strips of fabric.
  • Cutting jeans into shorts.
  • Turning baggy shirts into dresses.
  • Dying faded pieces of clothing to give them a new hue.

10. Upgrade your scruffy pair of shoes.

Did you know that your shoes are among the first things other people notice about you? To make a good impression, always make sure that you wear a decent pair.

Your white shoes might have already turned yellow, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear them again. By upcycling them, you can upgrade them into something trendier. You can add embellishments, such as glitters, to cover up the color. As for the laces, you can dye them.

Swap, Donate, Share

If you don’t have the luxury of time to follow all the previously mentioned creative ideas, you can still practice upcycling by swapping or giving your old clothes to your neighbor, relatives, and friends. The things you don’t like anymore might be a treasure for other people.

Another excellent tip for upcycling clothes is to donate them to those in need. As the cliché goes, “Sharing is caring.”

Visit Haven House Thrift Store

If you’re looking for a shop where you can buy pre-loved clothing or donate your old garments, Haven House Thrift Store is the place to be!

We sell high-quality secondhand clothing and accept donations. All our proceeds go to our recovery centers, where we help men recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Give us a call or visit our thrift store in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, for more information.