Recycling Old Clothes

Children grow out of their clothes so fast that parents everywhere despair about what to do. After all there is only so much you can hand down or donate. Add to that the clothes that fade or have tears that cannot be repaired, and the clothes that become horrendously dated in just a few months and adults face a real conundrum. For the nimble fingered among you handy with a needle and thread, there may be a solution: here are some ways in which you can give old clothes new life and use them again.

Patch it Up

Elbow and knee patches used to a fashion faux pas but after getting their time to shine on the runaway, they are here to stay. A skilful patch job in places that show a little wear and tear can transform the garment from thrift store to high end fashion. Make sure the material of the garment you are repairing is different, but not a complete contrast, to the material you are using to patch. And don’t use flimsy material like chiffon or nylon. The stitches should also be on the inside and not on the outside, unless you’re usual style supports a bit of bohemian chic and flamboyance. That checked jacket would have never looked better. 

Step on It

This may take longer but the fruits of your labour will pay off in abundance. Find a craft book or online site that shows you how to make handmade rugs out of old clothes and cloth. In countries like Bangladesh, where the textile and fabric industry is blooming, entire villages are involved in making rugs out of scraps of fabric thrown out of the factories and warehouses.

Cut up old shirts, T shirts and other garments into pieces about 3-5 inches long and 2-3inches wide. Take a piece of fabric and cut into the shape of the rug you want: an oval, a circle or a square. Then, start stitching the pieces of fabric in layers starting from the outer rim of the circle/ square to the middle, with each layer overlapping the one before. At the end, you will have a beautiful handmade rug with a blend of cheerful colours to brighten up your door.

Clothes into Cloths

One of the easiest things to do to old clothes is wash them, cut them up, hem them and turn them into wash cloths and dish cloths. Forget the expensive loofa and cellophane wrapped dish cloths. A rough material like corduroy or denim will work as an excellent wash cloth, gently exfoliating your skin and leaving it smooth. Softer materials like cotton can be used as dish cloths, dish rags or even handkerchiefs. All you have to do is bleach them white first and they will look as good as new. If you want to let your creativity take wing, think about embroidering a design onto your new (old) handkerchiefs or even tie- dying it.