Old to New: Re-purposing Old Fabrics

Shilpi Shukla
July 20, 2021

Do you have bagful of old clothes you do not use anymore, you do not want to part ways because you have sentimental value or you do not want to add them to the landfill, or not sure of what to do. Looking for ways to give a new purpose to your old clothes? For all of us who care for the planet, we need to reuse. One of my most recent habits that go the sustainable way have been re-purposing old clothes in various ways because, not all clothes are donation worthy. Recycling should be a last option; here we are sharing some ways to give a new life to these clothes.

 Some of the ways I chose to add purpose to my old clothes and other fabrics at home;

Cleaning rags and wipes

Smooth out the t-shirt or any other cotton fabric face-down onto a flat surface. Use fabric scissors to or any kind of scissors to cut as per your desired sizes. You could hem the borders neatly or border it with old laces. No more ragged edges peeking out from the sides! Use these for dusting your wooden furniture, or any other surface. You can also colour coordinate these wipes for each purpose.

Save money and save tissue papers and napkins.

Braided fabric rug

Pick fabrics of that you will like you want your mat to look like. Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut your fabric into long strips. Try to ensure that they’re of equal width and length, but if there are slight deviations, don’t worry about it. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take a ruler and cut little notches every inch or so along one edge of your fabric. If you have any loose strands fuzzing along the edges of your strips, just cut them away as you come across them. Once you have a nice, big pile of fabric strips, roll them into three equal-sized balls. To make very long, continuous strands, all you have to do is overlap ends and use a needle and thread to sew them together.

Shirts turned into cushion covers

Place the shirt flat on the ground. Use the cushion to measure the size and cut off the excess fabric at the bottom/waist section of the shirt. You want to be left with a torso section that is a few inches longer than the top shoulder width. Cut the arms off the shirt. Hem and close all three sides neatly. Add buttons on the fourth side to insert your cushion as the last step.  

T-Shirt made to reusable grocery bag

Overflowing drawer with old t-shirts...turn them into reusable grocery bags.  

Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew a zigzag/in and out stitch in a straight line across the bottom of the shirt opening, 1-2 inches up from the very bottom. Make it stronger with a second set of stitches and additional at the beginning and end for extra strength. Cut the sleeves and stitch it along the edges to create handles. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end and go across the stitching at least twice for extra strength. Cut off excess fabric and turn the bag right side out.  

Socks for those broken vases

 Pull sock over any vessel to make sure if fits nicely and you like the shape of it. Cut the sock an inch underneath the vessel. Pull it off the vessel to sew it neatly.  

Pet’s Bed

There’s nothing better than a handmade bed for your furry friend.

Fold up your bed sheet until it’s a good size for your dog/cat. You may have to unfold and refold a few times till you get a desired size. Sew the open sides with in and out stitching.  

Grand mom’s Vintage Saree

Get inspired to use your vintage saree that you no longer wear to decorate your home. Old sarees can be repurposed as a table runner, place mats, fabric wall painting, bed cover, festive drapes, fabric bunting and in many more incredible ways.

Committing to buying less and making use of what you have last longer is the need of the hour. By doubling the life of clothing from one to two years, we can help reduce emissions from clothing production and disposal by as much as 24%. Always invest in quality and classics when you go shopping. Discarding old clothes responsibly is our responsibility and individually and collectively, we can take small steps to pave the path towards a more sustainable future.

To know more about our workshops on Sustainable Living

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