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Right back at the start of this year I decided to have a big clear out. I gave myself a year to clear. I also came around to accepting that I would only have the one child. And I decided to start trying to lose weight again. So there are clothes coming out of my closets left right and centre. Old clothes from Elizabeth that I had put aside “just in case’ I got pregnant again. Ditto maternity clothes. Some of these were new / good enough to sell on eBay (more on that in this post). Some I could give to friends. But what about the others that were left? How could I go about upcycling old clothes?
Upcycling Old Clothes
If you saw any of the Great British Sewing Bee programme this year, you would remember that every week they featured a task that involved upcycling old clothes or objects to make new outfits or things. They made dog coats out of tents, dresses out of net curtains, and punk outfits out of tartan garments.
This was probably my favourite part / task of the show. I’d done a little upcycling of some old clothes of mine before. Making a old pair of jeggings into a denim skirt, and making a pair of leggings for Star Wars Day (May 4th be with you) out of my partners old pyjama pants.
And the leggings were made by using my technique for making children leggings without a pattern.
In fact this is a perfect way of reusing old adult jersey garments, just cut some children’s leggings from the fabric. Even if the leggings are only used for playing out or nursery, you are getting a few more months from the fabric before it needs to go into the bin.
Not Recycling Or Upcycling Old Clothes Is A Problem!
Our clothes fixation is really impacting on the planet. In the UK we buy nearly 27kg of clothes each every year. And throw away 235 million items of clothing into landfill. A lot of that material just sits there. Some of the man made fibres won’t rot for 200 years or more.
So the longer we can get some use out of these clothes the better.
Recently a close friend asked me if I wanted some garments that she was going to donate or dispose of. As these were Indian garments, she doubted that her local charity shop would take them. But they were too lovely to just throw away.
I accepted the challenge, and she gave me two large bags full of the most beautiful clothes. Beaded and sequinned, most had no size labels, so I could understand why she had asked me.
There was also a lot of cotton lawn material in amongst the clothes, which is perfect for making little girl summer dresses. So using the same modified pattern that I had used to make E’s Wonder Woman dress, I made a little dress using some of the fabric (that you can see in the top left of the picture above) This was a yellow and aqua sequinned tunic with some yellow cotton trousers. There was enough fabric to make this little dress, plus a few pieces left over for other small items.
I hope my friend who gave me the material likes this dress I made for her little girl. And there is still lots more material to upcycle.
Other Sewing Ways Of Reusing Fabric
During my clear out of E’s old baby clothes I found a load of bibs, flannels and burp cloths. These could be up cycled into reusable kitchen towels.
And I am looking to making makeup remover wipes and reusable sanitary pads with this cloth in the future.
But What If You Can’t Sew?
There is still lots of things that you can do with old clothes. One of my favourite things to do with old jersey dresses and leggings is to cut them into thin strips to make a rag rug. It is so easy, and you end up with a really lovely item for your home.
Or you could make a rag wreath, and not just for Christmas! Again, this is a totally no sew craft using strips of old material to make a fabulous decorative item.
Why not try reusing, repurposing or upcycling old clothes yourself?
Do you think this is a concept that you could implement in your own life? I would love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or find me on social media at the links above.
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