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How to Reuse or Recycle Old Clothes

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Reuse Old Clothes

Sweater Reuse

Sweater Reuse

Recycled Crafts to Turn Old Clothes into New Items

Long ago, people used leaves and hides for clothes. People eventually learned to weave cloth from natural fibers such as wool and cotton, but clothing was hard to replace. People took care of their clothes and reused them to make new things when they had outworn their usefulness.

In the early 1900s, factories began making cloth using chemicals rather than natural fibers. We call these chemical fabrics "synthetic fabrics." These synthetic fabrics, such as rayon, polyester, and spandex are so affordable and readily available that we stopped conserving them. People today have many more clothes and throw them away when they no longer want them.

Recent statistics estimate that 700,000 tons of fabric end up in the landfills each year! We all have old clothes that we no longer wear, with a little inspiration, we can reuse old clothes to make something usable! Browse the collection of recycled crafts below for ideas.

Recycling Old Clothes

Handy Tips and Hints to Recycle Used Clothing

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of waste we produced from 1980 to 2005, increased 60 percent. Many of us are doing our part and trying to reduce our waste by composting and recycling. It is a commitment and we are rising to the challenge, shunning our old wasteful habits, but there is always more to learn as recycling doesn't seem to be instinctive to most of us.

Don't forget to recycle your old clothes! Instead of throwing them away consider:

1. Giving them to someone you know.

2. Giving them to charity.

3. Hosting a clothing exchange party with your friends.

4. Consigning them to earn some cash.

5. Cutting them up and use them for rags to clean your home.

6. Make one of the really cool and unique crafts to reuse old clothes listed here!

Reuse Old Sweaters to Make a Quilt - Easy Directions to Make a Quilt from Old Sweaters


Recycled Sweater Quilt

A beautiful quilt made from old sweaters:

1. Cut the sweaters into squares.

2. Use a sewing machine to stitch the square together.

3. Sew backing on the sweater squares and hand stitch around the edge for a beautiful finished quilt.

How to Reuse or Recycle Clothes to Make a Quilt

Eco Craft Upcycle Project Ideas from

Tote from a Tank

tank top tote bag

tank top tote bag

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A Tank Top into a Tote

This craft project promises to make quick and easy work of creating a tote from an old tank top. Simply sew the bottom of the tank closed using a machine, then embellish the tank with fabric paint. The instructions give other cute ideas for tote decorating.

Tank Top into a Tote

Scarf from a Sweater

Recycled Wool Sweater Scarf

Recycled Wool Sweater Scarf

Sweater Scarf from a Recycled Wool Sweater

One More Way to Reuse old Clothes You Love

Teens will love this craft. If you have a sweater that is loved, perhaps it is just the right color, or goes great with a certain jacket, what do you do when you can't wear it anymore? Make it into this trendy hooded sweater scarf. They are stylish and it is the perfect solution when that favorite sweater gets a hole, because it allows you to keep wearing it! Super way to recycle a wool sweater, I made one from a beloved Merino wool sweater.

Recycled Sweater Hooded Scarf

T-Shirt Quilt

Quilt made out of reused t-shirts

Quilt made out of reused t-shirts

Reuse Old T-Shirts to Make a Quilt

How to Reuse Old Clothes as a Quilt

If you are like me and you still have clothes from high-school, this is a great way to put them to use and clear out your closet. Make them into something you can use... a Quilt. Pure genius and this looks so amazing with the right border.

Reuse Old T-Shirts to Make a Quilt

How to Make a Dress from an Old T-shirt - Reuse Old Clothes to Make New Clothes :)

Here is a quick Youtube video that explains how to make a dress from an old tshirt. The t-shirt can have logos on it, as long as the logo doesn't show through to the opposite side. Also, avoid old t-shirts with stains or holes.

Pillow Made from an Old T-Shirt

Another perfect use for an old t-shirt that you can't bare to part with, but has seen better days. That t-shirt may have a hole, or no longer be in style, but it will still make a perfect pillow.

T-Shirt Pillow

Placemats from Clothes

Reuse or Recycle Old Clothes to Make a Placemat

Reuse or Recycle Old Clothes to Make a Placemat

Placemats and Napkins

Recycle Sheets or Table Clothes to Make New Table Wear

Old Sheets, or table clothes that are worn can be transformed into placemats and napkins for your table. Any clothing that you wish to reuse or recycle can be made into placemats, but old sheets and table clothes usually have enough yardage to make matching sets. Just cut any seams or worn parts of the fabric off and use as you would use new material. You'll also need some bias tape and a sewing machine.

How to Make Placemats and Napkins

Reuse Denim for Fabric Roses

Make a Fabric Rose

Make a Fabric Rose

Have You Ever Considered Making Fabric Roses?

Reuse Old Clothes to Make a Fabric Rose

The rose in the photo was made using old blue jeans, but you can make a fabric rose from any type of fabric. All you need is a pair of scissors and some craft glue. Fabric roses are very quick and easy to make. A perfect craft for a young girl.

How to Make a Fabric Rose

A Wreath Made from Scraps

A holiday wreath make from old clothing scraps in select colors can put your old clothes to good use and help you decorate for the holidays at the same time.

Holiday Wreath from Reused Old Clothes

Glad Rags

Recycle or Reuse Old Clothes to Make Glad Rags

Recycle or Reuse Old Clothes to Make Glad Rags

Reuse Old Clothes to Make Glad Rags

Another Practical Way to Reuse Old Clothes

This may seem out of the ordinary to some, but if you have greened your life to the point that you've given up everything disposable, glad rags are a must for women. You can recycle any old cotton clothes, towels, or rags in your home to make glad rags. Cotton tends to be the most absorbent of all materials, so it's a good idea to consider the type of fabric you are using before making these.

How to Make Glad Rags

Latch Hook rug from T-Shirts

Latch Hook Rug from T-shirts

Latch Hook Rug from T-shirts

T-Shirt Latch Hook Rug

Here is another rug that can be made from t-shirts, but it doesn't require sewing. Do you remember those latch hook kits that you used to buy at the store? Well, this is the same idea except instead of yarn, we use t-shirts.

Laura has a very detailed explanation of how she made this latch hook rug on her blog. I've seen it done other places, but other instructions were not so detailed. Laura dyed the fabric the color she wanted before starting and made a very large rug.

This recycled t-shirt project appeals to me for 3 reasons: First, who doesn't have old t-shirts that they need to get rid of? Second, can't we all use extra rugs? Third, there is no sewing. Hooray!

Latch Hook Rug from Old T-shirts

More Ways to Reuse Old Clothes

You'll Find More Amazing Ideas to Reuse Old Clothes in These Books

If you enjoyed the idea of reusing old clothes, you'll find lots of inspiration in these craft reuse books from

TShirt into a Handbag

Tell us what you think of reusing old clothes.

© 2010 hsschulte

Do YOU have More Ideas to Reuse Clothes?

OUTFOXprevention1 on February 26, 2014:

Great info! We are so wasteful sometimes. People need to start being ok with reusing things more.

Ruthi on January 21, 2014:

Great ideas for re-purposing clothing, many of which I have done. I never thought of a purse with my undies, though, oh my!

M Teubert on December 13, 2013:

Great ideas! I reuse everything. You can see some of my ideas on my lens We all live in a disposable world :) I'm adding you to my list of relevant lenses!

anonymous on August 05, 2013:

We are specializing in textile reyclcing machine. These machines could recycle the waste into fiber. The fiber could be used for filling the funature, open end spin, medical cotton etc. It will take instand of new cotton sometimes. My email:

Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on July 31, 2013:

Wonderful and creative ideas here! I would love the t-shirt quilt or old sweater pillows for myself or for gifts. Wish I could sew...better learn one of these days to make these cool items.

MaxMunch06 on April 15, 2013:

Cool ideas! :)

anonymous on April 10, 2013:

You could make pets clothes that is another thing I do

JeffGilbert on March 23, 2013:

There's a lot of great ideas here. Great lens!!

billiboy on March 12, 2013:

We Recycle Old Clothes but your´s butifule.

laurenrich on February 28, 2013:

Great ideas. I will try several of them for myself. Thanks for sharing.

JackThompson21 on February 12, 2013:

No ideas here... you pretty much covered everything!

Takkhis on February 12, 2013:

Wonderful ideas you have :)

ErnestGregorski on February 05, 2013:

This lens is stellar! Nice job :)

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on January 29, 2013:

I save the snaps, clips, and buttons to use in crafts and use the cotton cloth for household rags. My husband keeps an assortment of old clothing to use as patches for his work clothes.

dawnsnewbeginning on January 13, 2013:

Full of great ideas!

TarahFlesch on January 04, 2013:

Very nice lens!! :)

IssacAlouf on December 19, 2012:

Love this :D

AllPurchasingSo on December 01, 2012:

This is great! Here at All Purchasing Solutions we began thinking the same thing and here we are with our own wholesale used clothing company :) Check us out if you have a chance

GabrieleRatley on November 27, 2012:

Superb information, thanks!

adrianjohnstone on November 08, 2012:

Great lens, thanks for sharing!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on October 24, 2012:

You just gave me a couple really good ideas for creating shopping bags out of my old clothing. Thank so much - you really are a great help.

LonnieMahajan on October 09, 2012:

Great lens!

HomeDecorKnight on September 26, 2012:

Amazing! interesting idea about using of old cloth.

AmyEbbinghouse on September 10, 2012:

Working on a crochet t shirt rug right now- the latch hook one is my next project- have a bunch to make for Christmas gifts! Nice lens!

kawasts on August 30, 2012:

awesome tutorial

anonymous on August 13, 2012:

its a great idea that i do @home too, 100% cotton shirts are great for splattering bleach on, trust me its way cool!!!!

TheGourmetCoffe on July 17, 2012:

Great ideas for clothes recycling. Old towels definitely are something we recycle and enjoy until the last thread! Thank you for sharing. Also "liked" your lens!

AskPat on June 05, 2012:

Love the ideas! Thanks for sharing!

beamee on May 30, 2012:

You give me an idea. Thank you!!!

DecoratingMom411 on May 17, 2012:

I haven't really thought of making some of these from old clothes. These are great ideas, plus you get to recycle too which is always a good thing.

KateHonebrink on May 14, 2012:

Great ideas here! Love the sweater quilt and the rag rugs! Super lens and kudos for making the upcycling monsterboard!

LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on May 03, 2012:

Good ideas for the favorite clothes you just can fit any more!

gradientcat on April 20, 2012:

Great ideas, next time I have some old clothes, I'm going to consider a re-use project.

Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on April 20, 2012:

Great idea! Now I know what happens to the clothes I donate to Goodwill. Squid Angel blessed.

sherioz on April 15, 2012:

These are wonderful ideas. I usually give my old clothes to a charity bazaar - and sometimes pick up something "new" there as well. But the possibility to use them myself for something is something to think about.

anonymous on March 28, 2012:

A lot of great Ideas. Thanks. We lost my husbands nana in December and we didn't know what to do with her clothing as my mother in law did not want to donate it. I was given the task of doing quilts told my mother in law that it would be to much for me to make quilts for every one. I am going to make pillows for the adults and older kids and then for the 7 younger ones I will be making teddy bears. I found that on I think it was.

anonymous on March 12, 2012:

a lot of great idea how to use an old clothes

anonymous on March 08, 2012:

@LouisaDembul: I do that w/the cheap fabric remnants bought from Walmart for cents. Mostly Barbies, but occasionally enough to make a curtain, tablecloth, and even clothes (real & dress-up) for my toddler nieces. I do get aggravated at the sewing machine and my lack of know-how on it, occasionally, but would be interested in ANY pattern-type ideas for doll clothes (even baby doll) or little girl sz 5 & 6s, etc....Thanks!

freeelectricity101 on February 21, 2012:

Awesome! I love this lens!

LouisaDembul on February 17, 2012:

Lots of good tips here how to recycle old clothes. We often make clothes for the dolls from old clothes.

Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on February 09, 2012:

Recycling is the way to go! Love your ideas to reuse and recycle old clothes.

Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on February 09, 2012:

Recycling is the way to go! Love your ideas to reuse and recycle old clothes.

lensesbyjames on February 09, 2012:

Instead of giving away clothes these are some great alternatives.

darciefrench lm on January 24, 2012:

Fantastic ideas for reusing old clothes. I was just reading a pet rat lens (I have a pet rat) about reusing old clothes to make fabric levels and hammocks for the cage.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on January 24, 2012:

I love recyling lenses. You have provided a number of interesting ideas here that I think I can use. Thank you.

Angel blessed.

curious0927 on January 23, 2012:

I'm preparing a lens of my own on how to create new things from clothes. Especially for mending. Since finding replacement buttons is hard and expensive, I visit my local Good Will and find a shirt/coat for a matching button I need! I felt brilliant when I spent $3 instead of $6 for a button pack! Then, I used the access material to make a craft item! YaY. Great ideas. Angel Blessed!

leeleon on January 11, 2012:

i like u lens.i have some ideas to reuse eggshells. welcome to see it

Traceeshobbies on January 09, 2012:

I love this idea and can't wait to get started!

Tamara14 on January 05, 2012:

So many great ideas for me here, thanks! I usually give all my kid's too small clothes to people I know who have kids younger than mine, but those reusing ideas such as totes, jar covers etc. are just to tempting. I'll try some of them for sure. Blessed!

howtosewadress on December 30, 2011:

Learning how to sew a dress is very easy. The only tricky part in learning this skill is learning how to draft a pattern. But once you have learned the techniques in pattern making, it is quite easy to learn how to sew.

krakensquid on December 27, 2011:

Fantastic lens!

phoenix3423 on November 30, 2011:

loved your lens had a ton of great ideas even if I do not think I am green enough to try the pads lol! think making the dress out of t shirt for daughter

anonymous on November 25, 2011:

read a good lens about making purses out of jeans. squidlike your lens as it's a great source of ideas.

Bob from Kansas City on November 21, 2011:

Great lens - thanks.

kongdan123 on November 21, 2011:

so many baby's winter coats

, i am hunting for some clothes for my new baby!

Alexander09 on November 19, 2011:

In present pollution is big problem. This idea save world maybe not complete but "long journey start with one single step".

Golf Clothes

anonymous on November 17, 2011:

Hey I have reviewed your squidoo lens and I really liked it. Because of this I went ahead and âlikeâ you on squidoo. Giving your lens another like.

When you have time, please take a look at my lens. It is located at

If you like my lens, please add a like to my lens as well. I am new to squidoo and I would appreciate any comments at all.

anonymous on October 24, 2011:

I thought only i am thinking in these terms

anonymous on October 12, 2011:

You make all of these crafty ideas look so fun! If I was the least bit artistic I would for sure try them out!

JodiFromFlorida on October 05, 2011:

Another amazing lens!

adamfrench on September 28, 2011:

Impressive lens, thumbs up

orange3 lm on September 27, 2011:

I'm always trying to make something out of our old clothes that are too tattered to be given away. You gave me some great new ideas. Thank you.

MeganShoop on September 24, 2011:

Shredded t-shirts are some of my favorite projects; I love combining different colors to create ruffles and stuff, too.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on September 11, 2011:

I just cut up a pair of socks and made a woven potholder from them. Great ideas here, Heather!

lucybrz1 on August 26, 2011:

I made mittens for winter using old sweater an top. Actually they are quite warm, just they mustn't get wet. No playing in the snow :-(

Joan Haines on August 17, 2011:

I have made quilts with old clothes. I love the t-shirt latchhook rug and the old sweater into mittens.

Runnn on August 12, 2011:

Thanks for recycling. Great ideas. Well done.

AngelDey on August 11, 2011:

I've been looking for ways to keep my son's old shirts that don't fit him anymore. A lot of them are really bright and still in good condition and I just don't want to give them away. I love the quilt idea for them. That way we get to keep the images (especially since some are tourist shirts) and use them too! Thanks.

dahlia369 on August 11, 2011:

Great collection of ideas. Blessed! :)

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on August 04, 2011:

Wonderful ideas on reusing clothes. I reuse a lot of stuff and give the rest away.

anonymous on July 31, 2011:

What wonderful examples you share here to inspire us all. I especially like the old sweater turned into mittens and so easy to do!

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on July 07, 2011:

I've crocheted fabric rag rugs, but the latch hook rug looks really enticing. It also looks like it takes a long time to make; I'd probably hate for people to step on it. ha

JJNW from USA on July 03, 2011:

When my son was about 8, he made one of his outgrown t-shirts (featuring a fishing theme) into a pillow for his grandpa. What a treasure!!! Grandpa used it every single day and it is a great memory of when my son was much smaller!

Great ideas!

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on June 26, 2011:

Along the lines of glad rags are making diapers or diaper covers, and family cloth. If garment is still useable and not stained or worn out, I will usually give it to someone who can use it. But, when it gets past the point of being wearable, then it should be made into something else.

Suze05 LM on May 30, 2011:

Great ideas! I'm always giving bags of clothes to Good Will and the American Vets Thrift Store..but I love the idea of making rag rugs and pillows and stuff out of them..and those glad rags are a great idea.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on May 20, 2011:

I love this lens! I give away some of my old clothes but a few choice items, I'll keep and make a pillow or potholders or whatever I think of. Love all the new ideas you give like rugs and piano quilt! Lensrolled to my Free Stuff lens.

FunkyJewelleryUK on May 15, 2011:

Great lens! All of my jewellery is made out of recycled products or everyday objects too. Great and interesting lens! :)

Homelust on April 25, 2011:

excellent topic for spring!

Anahid LM on April 18, 2011:

Hi wish you a happy Easter Annai Great idea to use old clothes, I use some as dust cloth or rags to clean the floors.

Andy-Po on April 11, 2011:

Excellent recycling ideas.

Angela F from Seattle, WA on April 08, 2011:

Excellent ideas for recycling old clothes. I've made cute purses out of fabric placemats and old jeans but will have to try some of these craft ideas. Lensrolling to my lens Recycling at Home - Beyond Bottles and Cans.

anonymous on April 03, 2011:

What great ideas! I really enjoyed this lens. I'll have to see if I can find my old latch hook because I'd love to try making one of those rag rugs.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 17, 2011:

What a wonderful lens. Being raised in the country I have recycled clothing for as long as I can remember.

jlshernandez on March 06, 2011:

Thanks for sharing these creative ideas.For old clothes, like vintage silk shift dresses, I would shorten these and update the look with a wide belts.

Blessed by a SquidAngel.

DonMcCyclist1 on February 24, 2011:

I've made covers for pocket memo pads out of cardboard scraps covered with cloth from worn out clothes. All it takes is some white glue and once it dries you have the stiffness of the cardboard and the texture and color of the cloth--almost as good as binding your own hardback book!

Jack on February 20, 2011:

Great ideas. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

hsschulte (author) on January 24, 2011:

@Virginia Allain: Virginia, I very much want to read your mother's book. I need to stop and take the time to buy it. :) She has so much experience to share that I enjoy.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 23, 2011:

You have a great series going with repurposing clothing, blue jeans and paper. Very helpful.

I'm inspired to go update my lens about Green Living in the 1930s about my mother's memories of recycling.

priscillab on January 23, 2011:

Love these ideas! I think I want to try doing a rug. I have done a tshirt pillow, turned an old pair of jeans into a skirt. Oh, also love the wreath idea. Great ideas. I usually donate old clothing but the ones that are not good for donating are great for the rug idea. Thanks for this lens!!

Anahid LM on January 11, 2011:

Hi Great lens for old clothes use,or recycle. It is great to read about t shirt rugs. Thank you great job. anna

Ann Hinds from So Cal on December 31, 2010:

I like this. First, it is useful information that I find very helpful but am not doing the purse. Secondly, it is well put together and has very clear instructions on all the projects. Angel Blessed. Great job!

ChrisDay LM on December 27, 2010:

Great advice

WorldVisionary on December 14, 2010:

Great idea for a lens!

MoonandMagic on December 09, 2010:

liked and rolled, great lens.

Craftybegonia on November 30, 2010:

I love the fabri flowers and thought that those mittens out of an old sweater were an ingenious idea! Thanks for sharing.

Joan4 on November 12, 2010:

I'd love to learn to make fabric flowers. I need to study that idea!

piedromolinero on November 12, 2010:

Some great ideas. I usually give clothes, especially those of our daughter, to our cleaning lady.

MirandaBrooks LM on October 18, 2010:

I think I am going to try the CLothes into Quilt one, it sounds interesting and fun, thank you for the wonderful ideas!

draik on October 08, 2010:

You have gave me a good idea on using old clothes to make a rag. Thanks so much,

JollyvilleChick on September 25, 2010:

I never thought about reusing clothing like this. I only think of giving them away or storing them in a box in my closet or shed. Don't get me started on why I save old clothes...

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