Tuesday, April 9, 2013

8 Ways to Re-Use & Recycle Your Old Clothes

Do a simple search on Pinterest and you will find a bazillion ideas for that old jacket or table or bicycle chain. Even before I was pinning stuff online, I was cataloging ideas in my head and putting things aside just in case I came up with an idea. Although I’m still pinning cool re-purposed stuff, I’m trying to get better about saving all the stuff only when I realistically have time to make them.

When I cleaned out my kids’ closets, there were a bunch of t-shirts and jeans that they had outgrown, were unwearable (ripped, stained, etc.), or didn’t like anymore. Most of the wearable clothes, I donated somewhere.  This is what I did with the rest.

  • Shorts – I swear, you’d think my kids played for the Baltimore Orioles or that they are required to crawl through school the way they wear out their knees.  The girls’ jeans get cut-off and worn as shorts, nothing new here. If you want to be fancy, you can add embellishments like edging and lace trim around the leg, iron-in designs to cover holes in the pockets, etc. (I don’t like the look for my son, so his get moved into another pile.)
  • Make a quilt - A few years ago, when I was feeling quite industrious, I cut squares out of all the throw-away jeans and made a quilt, which we use as a picnic blanket. It’s great – it’s durable, washable, comfy.
  • Recycle – Did you know that you can use denim, a cotton fiber, to insulate your home? I’m not stuffing my walls with our old jeans, but I did find a place that collects denim to recycle into home insulation: CottonfromBluetoGreen.org. You can send in less than 100 pieces of denim – in any kind of condition, any type of garment – and you can even have a denim drive! Check their website for more info. I figure its going to cost about $20 to mail the box but that pile is out of my house and I feel good about our used denim going to good use.

  • Dust rags – This is how my mother used our old tees. I’ve found thermal shirts work great, too.
  • Scrunchies & headbands – Cut the body and arms into strips for quick, easy hair ties. My daughters and I go through so many headbands and hair ties. They get worn out, they get lost. These are easy, they cost you nothing. I throw them in my gym bag so I always have one handy. They will lose their stretch after awhile, but surely you’ll have another t-shirt ready to use by then.

  • Tote bag – Great for the tees that have a design that you like, for instances a sports team or school logo.  Or a Girl Scout shirt. I cut off the neck and arms, and sewed across the bottom. Ta-da! Perfect for carrying cookies and badge projects to the next meeting. This took me no more than ten minutes to do.
  • Quilt – Again, in an industrious mode, I cut my daughter’s t-shirts in equal size squares (13”, I think) and made a quilt out of them when she finished elementary school. The t-shirts squares have to be lined with interfacing so that they do not stretch; this is easy if you use the iron-on interfacing. Sew the squares together in a row, then sow the rows together. Use a large piece of cotton fabric as the backing, and whichever loft of quilt batting that you select (someone in the quilting section of the fabric store can help you with the backing and batting selections). I hand-quilted hers simply by tieing it in certain points. If you have the skill to quilt, or you have a wonderful friend who does, you can do something more intricate (you can also find services who do this specifically).

I kept the ones that had a hole or stain in it, not worthy of being donated. My plan is to unwind the sweaters and reuse the yarn for a future crochet or knitting project. I’m not making any promises, we’ll see.

These are the things I thought that I could handle with our old clothes. If you are feeling more crafty, again, just search pinterest – or peek at my board - and you will find all kinds of ideas to refashion jeans into skirts, t-shirts into fancier t-shirts, sweaters iPad cases, and all sorts of stuff.

Let me know of any re-use/recycle projects that you’ve come up with for your old stuff. I’m always looking for new ideas!

I spent spring break cleaning out the kids' closets. This is part 3 in my series of posts about what to do with all of that stuff. Read more in previous posts on  cleaning out the closet and donating your used items.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Great ideas. I did a t shirt bag before. Came out really cute. Took it to the pool a few times.