After my clothing swap party, I was left with a huge amount of clothing to deal with. I sold a few pieces to some resale shops, but that barely put a dent in the amount of clothes leftover. Selling used clothing can be tricky because most shops are very particular about how old the style is and of course the condition. I also want to make sure any clothes I donate are in good condition, so I called several local charities to see what they needed. It may seem like a good deed to unload bag after bag of clothing on a charitable organization, but a lot of it can’t be used and ends up being shipped off or dumped in a landfill. Make sure you always call first to see what’s needed. I also avoid bigger, for-profit companies like Red Racks and Goodwill and instead opt for local churches and charities. I managed to donate a lot of good quality coats for the winter and other useful items. However, I’m still left with a pile of clothes that I can’t seem to sell or donate, so what do I do? It’s time to get crafty and put these old clothes to use. Here are 10 easy ideas for upcycling old clothing:
Mop Heads and Rags
One of the most obvious reuses for old clothes is to use them as cleaning supplies. I might not make money on this project, but it will prevent me from having to go out and buy new rags and mop heads. I often use old socks or missing pairs for clean up jobs. The clothes that are beyond repair and not fit for any kind of fun project are best for cleaning supplies.
Once I get a business up and running and make a name for myself, I’d like to make swag: t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other merch. With so many T-shirts out there from other businesses, why reinvent the wheel by starting new? I’d like to put my brand on T-shirts previously used for other companies. Old clothes can also be embellished and dyed to give them new life.
One of the most useful ways to upcycle shirts is to turn them into tote bags. Plastic bags at grocery stores are incredibly wasteful and opting for reusable ones can help keep our landfills clear. I want my tote bags to be durable and washable, too. The tutorial above is a super easy, no-sew option.
Have you heard of hillbilly heat pads? At least that’s what we call them. They’re super easy to make and come in very handy if you’ve got pain or just want to be toasty. All you need is some rice and some fabric. The tutorial above lists all the steps.
After doing a little research about this awesome company called FABSCRAP, I became interested in their method for turning clothes into shoddy, which is basically a stuffing used in pillows. Why spend anymore money on cotton when I can make my own stuffing for pillows and other projects? Whether or not I can find the tools necessary to make it is yet to be determined, but I think it’s a process of cutting into bits and then shredding the material.
After my grandfather passed in the fall of 2021, one of his caretakers made us all a very sentimental gift out of his old shirts. It was such a sweet gesture. How hard could it be to make a pillow out of old clothes? This project can also be done with a variety of fabric and in different styles.
This might be one of the more complicated projects I would like to try. These rag rugs are so cool. I’ve already got a pile of old sheets that can’t be donated that would be perfect for a project like this. I’m worried it might be a little time-consuming though. I’ll give it a try soon!
Pot Holders and Oven Mitts
Everybody needs potholders and oven mitts. I’m sure I could make my own using old clothing. Some could be sewn simply enough, but I’d also like to learn how to crotchet. Fortunately, my mom is an expert. There are also no-sew options like the tutorial listed above. For these projects, it’s best to use a durable material like denim or multiple layers of fabric to prevent burns.
Another fun project is to make stuffed animals or sock monkeys out of old fabric. There’s a great tutorial for sock monkeys above, but I also like making stuffed owl pillows and other cute toys out of old shirts.
Finally, you can repurpose clothes by giving them a fashion upgrade. I’ve been looking up current trends in the fashion industry and decided to alter older clothes to reflect the new fashion. Some current trends include vests, color blocking, and goth looks. I’m looking forward to trying these projects!
There are many other projects that can be done with old clothing with varying degrees of tailoring skills. I’ve chosen these because they seemed like the most practical and the easiest. Other ideas include quilts, blankets, and doggy sweaters. Here are more resources with upcycling ideas for your old clothes. Enjoy!