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How to repurpose old clothes

Got some ragged T-shirts or an old dress you plan to throw out? Hold on! We’ve got some tips on how to convert your old, unwanted items into fabulous new creations.

Repurposing clothes - turn a shirt into a skirt collage

Kristen at The Frugal Girl has spent years discovering and inventing all kinds of ways to save money and have fun by making the old new again. She’s even written an e-book on how reuse, refresh and repurpose old clothes as a way to give them new life. Here, she shares her tips on how you can ensure your older pieces of clothing don’t hit the curb or the donation bin too soon.

What you’ll need

Worried that repurposing will require you to invest in a whole lot of expensive supplies? Don’t be! Kristen explains that many basic repurposing projects can be accomplished with just a pair of scissors and a needle and thread. Once you get a little more into it and want to take on more advanced projects, a basic sewing machine can be very helpful, says Kristen.

Have some old sheets lying around? Use them to make your own pillows! >>

Where to start

Black spool of thread with needle

When you’re looking at a pile of old clothes, it can be slightly overwhelming to figure out where to start in terms of repurposing. So to get the ball rolling, Kristen recommends starting with T-shirts. “Almost everyone has worn, stained or ripped T-shirts lying around the house, and they’re fairly easy to repurpose,” says Kristen. “They can be turned into shopping bags with little more than a pair of scissors; they can be cut up to make cleaning rags; and they can also be used to cushion fragile items that need to be stored,” she explains. Simply cut old T-shirts into squares that can be used as you would paper towels and then washed in the laundry and reused again and again. Or for shirts you aren’t quite ready to cut into pieces, cut off the sleeves and the necks, and then stitch up the bottoms to create convenient and eco-friendly shopping bags. Or if an old, long-sleeved knit shirt simply needs a little restyling, Kristen suggests turning it into a short-sleeved or sleeveless shirt by cutting the sleeves at the desired point. The knit fabric doesn’t fray, explains Kristen, so all you need to do is trim and enjoy!

Flower button steps collage

Fun new projects

Once you’ve gotten familiar with using scissors alone to breathe new life into old clothes, it’s time for more impressive challenges. Not sure where to start? Check out Kristen’s simple and easy tutorial for creating a fabric flower. Believe it or not, the one pictured here was made out of the lining of an old children’s dress! And you can make yours with just a needle, thread and whatever old fabric you have on hand. When that’s done, test your skills on a bigger project, such as Kristen’s tutorial for how to turn an old shirt into a skirt. When you’re ready for even more repurposing ideas, check out Kristen’s e-book, which features 20 great repurposing projects to get your creative juices flowing. And always remember: Just because something is old doesn’t mean it has to go! Try to look at it differently, and discover how you can re-create it in a new and exciting way.

Photos courtesy of Kristen at The Frugal Girl

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