Rags to Riches: Recycled Clothing Crafts
21 September 2009
Recycled clothing crafts are a great, green way to create functional works of art. Give new life to old clothes you no longer wear by reworking them into a garment or bag, giving it a new life and a new purpose. This challenge can be so much fun that you might seek out clothing to recycle at consignment shops or thrift stores!
Perhaps you have wool sweaters that you don’t wear. Felt the sweaters in the washing machine, cut the sleeves off to make the handles and decorate the bags with the great Felt Works products available from Dimensions. If you like to knit you can also unravel a sweater and use the fiber to knit a new garment, or paper crafters can use the yarn on their cards or altered objects. Buttons are big as embellishments in paper crafting, so at least cut off the buttons from discarded clothing to use in card making or to have on hand in case you need another button on a shirt! Change clothing into something you will wear by embellishing it with paint or buttons. Deconstruct it and change the garment or make it into something totally different.
Recycle embroidered linens or cutwork pieces into vests or bags. Old lace can be used in jewelry making or papercrafting. Two tapestry placemats can be joined to make a great tote bag. Wedding dresses can be taken apart and the lace reused.
Another possibility for recycling clothing is to make something big, like a quilt. Small pieces of used clothing can be put together to make a great quilt. Perhaps you sew and you have scraps of leftover cloth. These have been used for years to create quilts, but why not use the portions of the used cloth from discarded clothing that is still good for quilting? Perhaps you have sheets that have worn places on them. Cut the bad places out and use the good portions for quilts or embroidery. Egyptian cotton makes a great fabric for embroidery with its tight weave. Discarded towels are always good to have around and old cloth diapers make wonderful dusting cloths. Vintage clothing is very popular, so why wouldn’t articles made from old clothing be popular too?
Even if you don’t choose to make something out of your old clothing, donate it to a non-profit organization where they will sell the reusable clothing to others or send the unsellable clothing to a recycle center. Ninety-nine percent of used textiles are recyclable either to be used as rags or shredded and made into new products. These non-profit organizations keep old clothes out of the waste system.
We have only touched the “hem of the garment” as far as recycled clothing crafts go, but hopefully this will get you thinking of those old clothes in a new light! Think twice about putting old clothing in the garbage can next time you clean out your closet. If you don’t want to use them in some way, at least let someone else turn your rags into riches! Either create with it or donate it.