Repurposing Used Clothes

Turn used clothes into something new

Repurposing used clothes is the ideal way to get further life from discarded clothes, while creating something truly unique.

'Repurposing' is close to the heart of many creative people. This means taking an item and giving it a new or different purpose. With clothes this means that instead of throwing an item away because it is worn, out of fashion or simply out of favor, they are turned into something desirable and useful. Almost any type of clothing can be repurposed. The fabric content alone means that clothing can be resewn or used to make quilts or for patchwork projects. However, with a little creativity, clothes can be transformed into practical items or stunning works of art.

Types of Clothes for Repurposing

Anything can be repurposed. Even very worn or stained garments can be recycled, simply cut away the pieces that cannot be used and keep the usable fabric. Surprisingly small items of fabric can be repurposed. Patches or small items of jewelry can be fashioned from off-cuts of fabric. Different types of garments can be used in different ways:

Heavy Duty Items

Heavy duty clothing items, such as denim, can be repurposed in many ways. This is ideal for making bags or purses. Grocery bags, for instance, can be made from heavy duty fabrics and are much kinder to the environment than disposable plastic bags. Adult items of denim can also be remade into items of clothing for children. Off cuts of denim can be used to make household items. Rag rugs, for instance, can be created using small pieces of unwanted denim fabric.

Luxury Fabrics

One of the most exciting things about repurposing used clothing is that often hidden treasures can be found. A silk blouse which may be very old fashioned can become a stunning garment when it is repurposed or reformed. Other luxury fabrics include fine cashmere, which can often be found in used suits or coats and fine yarns that are used to make high quality knitted items. This is a great way to access fine and luxury fabrics that may otherwise be too expensive to work with.

Antique and Vintage Designs

Antique and vintage items are popular repurposing materials. The distinctive designs of past decades can make an interesting source of material for new projects. This needn't be limited to just garments - items such as table cloths or curtains featuring striking vintage designs can be used in a variety of projects.


T-shirts are typically made from cotton and are often discarded while there is still a lot of wear left in them. They are ideal for repurposing into sun tops, children's clothes or even quilts. Very old or worn t-shirts can be used as rags or dusters.

Skills Required for Repurposing Clothes

A few key skills are required for repurposing used clothes. These include:

  • Sewing - a few sewing skills are useful when repurposing clothes. Many small projects can be undertaken by hand, however machine sewing skills may be useful for larger projects.
  • Dying - discarded fabrics can be given a new lease on life by dying them to change the original color. Most fabrics are simple to dye at home and don't require any special equipment. Unusual effects can be achieved by using techniques such as tie-dying.
  • Embroidery - some basic embroidery skills are all that is required to add special finishing touches to repurposed items. These are simple to learn and can be used for both simple and complex designs.

Repurposing clothing is part of green living. It is also a great way to make unusual and unique items that are bound to bring compliments.

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Repurposing Used Clothes