How to Reuse Old Clothes

Fabric is a great resource and used fabric in clothing has so many possibilities for being reused again. By saving old clothes and turning them into something else, you can keep treasured logos and images, save resources, make fantastic new things you do need and learn how to make everything you own stretch further...

In this article, you'll get a taste of what's possible in the way of reusing old clothes. From this point, you'll be primed to go on to create many new ways of reusing clothing too.


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    Restyle the clothes: If the issue with your old clothes is simply that the fashion is old or you've grown tired of an old garment, consider restyling it. This can be done in various ways, such as adding an embellishment or alter the clothing into something different or to have a neater, more fashionable fit.
    • Make cut-off shorts out of old jeans
    • Rip your jeans to give them a completely different look.
    • Sew on a patch or iron one on.
    • Cut your jeans wider or make skinny jeans.
    • Add zippers, buttons, ribbons, or other embellishments.
    • Check out a book from the library on restyling clothes. There are many great books available on this topic now and some of the ideas in these books will be sure to appeal to you.
    • Dye the fabric to make something completely different. This may be all that's needed to take it from last year's fashion to this. It is even an option with colors that really date clothing, such as pastels from the 80s, especially when coupled with restyling.
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    • Consider using vegetable dyes if you're also trying to keep the reuse organic or eco-friendly in nature.
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    Make new clothes. Make something that doesn't require a lot of fabric, such as a tube top, halter top or t-shirt. Combine fabrics for a patchwork garment. See how to How to modify your t-shirt for lots of options.
    • Make a miniskirt. Cut off the top of a long t-shirt. Cut horizontally just below the sleeves. Turn the raw edge over twice to form a waistband. Insert elastic or use a ribbon as a drawstring.
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    Make fabric accessories. Make headbands, hair ties, bracelets, necklaces, slippers or belts. Stitch a long strip of fabric together and turn it inside out. Braid strips of fabric.
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    Make winter accessories. Make a hat, scarf and mittens from an old sweater.
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    Make patches. Add colorful patches to your blue jeans or jean miniskirt. Add an extra pocket to the inside of your coat.
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    Make toys. Make a set of doll clothes or stuffed animals. Make bean bag chairs for the kids.
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    Cover a special book. If fabric has sentimental value, use it to cover a scrapbook, journal or photo album. This way you'll be able to continue enjoying the presence of the fabric in your life for years to come.
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    Make a picture frame. Layer cardboard into the shape of a frame. Cover each piece with fabric as it's being glued and assembled. You could also use fabric to cover over an old photo frame that is scuffed or outdated.
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    Cover a lampshade. Pleat and glue fabric onto a lampshade. Glue a row of decorative ribbon to the top and bottom of the shade to cover the raw edges of the fabric. Add a row of dangling, sparkling beads to the lower edge of the shade.
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    Cover a corkboard. Use a large piece of fabric to cover the front and sides of a corkboard. Secure the fabric in place with glue at the back of the board. Add notes, messages and mementos to the board with a stick pin or common pin.
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    Make a quilt for your bed. Add a pretty eyelet bed skirt and matching shams.
    • Old clothing fabric can also be transformed into a comfortable throw blanket.
    • Pillow cases might be another option for old fabric, provided it's soft enough for the face.
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    Make new curtains. Make a simple valance for the top of a window. Add a small drawn curtain, to the lower part of the window, made from a different fabric.
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    Wrap small presents. Cut fabric into a circle or square with pinking shears to create a cute zig zag edge. Gather all sides of the fabric around your gift and secure it with a ribbon. This creates a beautiful package for soaps, sachet and other small items.
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    Make gift bags. Cut fabric into a long, wide strip. Fold the strip in half. Stitch the side seams. Use pinking shears to trim the top of the bag. Secure the top of the bag with a ribbon. This creates a beautiful package for a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers.
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    Make a big, cozy cushion for your dog. Use fabric from flannel shirts or other soft fabrics and stuff the cushion with scrap fabric. Make sure the size fits your dog!
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    Make a rag rug. You can weave a rag rug or crochet a rag rug, or braid a rag rug.
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    Make a chenille denim blanket from old denim and flannel.
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    Use fabric for cleaning. Make plenty of dust cloths or polishing rags.
    • The edges of the fabric do not need to be finished. Cut frayed edges as needed.


  • Donate them to someone who needs them.
  • Use buttons for decorative effect.
  • Someone else may want to know how you made your new items.
  • Store similar fabrics together for quick access.
  • Try it on to see if every thing fits together and if not find the right fabric and pattern to fix it.
  • Be sure a gift isn't made from a piece of clothing that someone once gave to you as a gift.
  • Search wikiHow to find more fabric projects.
  • Make rag paper. Once, rags and scrap fabric were carefully collected to make paper.


  • Do not cover a lamp shade with flammable fabric unless you use a low wattage bulb, CFL or other cooler bulb. Heat rises and can scorch the fabric or set it on fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Old clothes
  • Scissors
  • Work space

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Categories: Featured Articles | Fabric and Clothing Reuse | Sewing Clothes