Before we used to hold onto clothes forever, but now they’re so cheap and trends change so quickly, not many people cherish or respect what’s in their wardrobe. As 85% of old clothes end up in landfill we need to start finding ways to make our old clothes last longer, which is where upcycling comes in. There are so many ideas for upcycling old clothes to give them a new purpose, and keep them from sitting in the dump for all eternity!
10 Ideas For Upcycling Old Clothes
1. Turn Scraps From Old Clothes Into Washcloths
If you have a lot of soft fabrics such as t-shirts and pyjamas that you can’t stand the sight of, you can cut them into little squares and use them for cloths. Whether you want to use it as a dish rag to clean down surfaces in the kitchen, or make little pads to remove your make-up.
At some point, most people’s parents would have cleaned the car or windows with old clothes or pyjamas, so it’s okay to go back to those days! Either way, this saves you from buying new cleaning materials and gives old clothing a new purpose.
2. Turn Jeans Into Shorts
One of the oldest DIY’s and ways to upcycle old clothes is to turn an old pair of jeans into shorts. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s been impossible to find shorts ever since the big booty trend kicked off that actually cover my butt! If you feel confident wearing booty shorts; that’s amazing, but personally, I don’t like feeling that exposed.
If you’re DIYing shorts from old jeans, mark where you’re cutting with chalk first so they’re even on both sides. You can fold the cut up and sew a new hem, or if you’re more alternative and prefer no-sew ways to upcycle old clothes, leave them naturally get frayed. Check out these no-sew ideas to upcycle clothes instead.
3. Turn Leggings Into A Top
Leggings have so many fun quirky patterns that would look cute as a top! If you’re sick of some leggings but could do with new tops, then turn them into a cute crop top!
If you don’t have any funky leggings, have a look around a few charity shops first. Not only will this save you money from going out an buying a brand new top, but the best part about upcycling old clothes is that it’s better for the environment.
4. Turn Old T-Shirts Into Scrunchies
With nostalgia being a massive trend right now, the old ’80s and ’90s staple that was the scrunchie has made a comeback!
Making a scrunchie from old clothing is very simple as demonstrated in this guide to upcycle old clothes into scrunchies.
Scrunchies are very popular on sites like Etsy so if you make too many, you can even sell them and make a profit off your upcycling project! They’re even better for your hair than regular hair ties, so I for one, hope they stick around for the 20s!
5. Turn A Scarf Into A Halter Top
As trends change, I’m seeing less scarves being worn so rather than leaving some beautiful scarfs sitting in the back of your wardrobe, why not get summer ready and turn one into a pretty halter top? There are a lot of no sew ways to upcycle old clothes, especially when it comes to scarfs so you don’t have to commit.
If you already own a gold chain, you can make a gorgeous now sew gold chain halter top. However, there are also other ways to wear a scarf as a top without needing to use other items of clothing, like these no-sew scarf shirts.
If you feel like the scarfs time as a scarf has come to and end, and want to commit to your upcycling endeavour, you can use try one of these sewed tops made from a scarf.
6. Make A Bodysuit From A Tank Top
I can’t be the only one with an abundance of tank tops? Body suits are a godsend because they don’t start slipping up out of jeans the way regular tank tops do! Most body suits are plain but cost an arm and a leg, while tank tops are dirt cheap? Why not give an old vest a make-over with this tutorial to turn a tank top into a bodysuit.
7. Make Yarn With A T-shirt
There are so many ways to upcycle old clothes with a t-shirt, from the cloths above, to make a new shirt or a skirt, and in this case; yarn. This is such a versatile one of these ideas for upcycling old clothes because you can get crafty with the t-shirt yarn and make blankets, stuffed toys, and more!
Here’s what you need to know to make yarn with an old t-shirt.
8. Make Hand Warmers With Old Shirts
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve never personally gone out an wanted to buy hand warmers for myself, but I wouldn’t say no to using them?
Making hand warmers with old shirts is simple, all you need is some thread, a needle, old material, and filling such as beans so you can heat it up.
9. Turn A Shirt Into A Skirt
Maybe you have some cute t-shirts that would double as a nice skirt if they were tweaked a bit? I love a good tube skirt of a pencil skirt, but they’re often low quality and lose their shape quicky. Why go to a fast fashion outlet when you can DIY your own skirt with something you already own like this 10-minute shirt skirt.
10. Make A Shirt Into A Dress
One of the most popular or well known ideas for upcyling old clothes is the plaid shirt dress which went viral in 2013. If you don’t remember that, I must be ancient. This is another no-sew way to upcycling old clothes because all you need to do is find an oversized (men’s) plaid shirt and fold it. I used this method in my post on styling one dress three ways.
Have you ever tried any of these ideas for upcycling old clothes? What’s your favourite way to repurpose old clothes? You might also like my eco-goth guide.