13 IDEAS TO UPCYCLE YOUR CLOTHES INTO STUFF YOU’LL ACTUALLY USE

Scrapbooking has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember, but I am utterly and completely bad at it. 

The thing is, it’s not the scrapbooking that I’m bad at (at least I think it’s not 😬), it’s my lack of commitment. 

I’d start one scrapbook with all the motivation in the world, get bored halfway through, if I’m lucky to even get that far, and then quit, only to start another scrapbook a couple of months later when inspiration strikes. 

Similar to scrapbook, my relationship with sustainable fashion has followed much the same trajectory. 

I think the issue is a lack of priority. 

There was always an excuse as to why I couldn’t (more like wouldn’t) buy secondhand or from a sustainable brand.

I don’t like the style of clothes.

It’s too expensive. 

The excuses were plentiful.

I’m not saying sustainable fashion isn’t expensive, but what I mean is that when you make sustainable fashion a priority, the excuses seem to disappear. 

They don’t say where there’s a will there’s a way for nothing.  

In a sense, that’s why this post exists. 

To provide options and alternatives to purchasing something sustainable.

Nothing beats free, right?

Why Upcycle Your Clothes?

When you upcycle your clothes, you are preventing them from reaching a landfill. 

This point, environmentally speaking, cannot be under-stressed. 

According to Business Insider, 85% of textiles end up in a landfill each year!

Apart from the environmental benefits of upcycling, you’re also saving money by utilizing what you’ve already own and repurposing it for something you would have had to buy, like cleaning wipes for example. 

Alternatives to Upcycling

If you have a particular garment that you don’t want to upcycle but know you won’t be able to wear again, like a formal dress perhaps, consider donating or selling the garment to a secondhand retailer. 

Check out this post for the best secondhand retailers for selling your clothing. 

For more upcycle alternatives check out this post

13 Ways to Upcycle Your Clothing

Below you’ll find 13 different ideas to upcycle your clothing, categorized into beauty, cleaning, household, shopping and clothing, enjoy!

Beauty

Makeup Removing Pads

Why buy makeup remover pads when you can make your own? 

This craft from Loepsie is super quick, easy and actually quite fun to put together. 

You’ll need: 

  • A t-shirt (you can use any old garment really, but I used a t-shirt because I have more t-shirts on hand than I care to admit 😬) I used a black one since I’ll be using the pads to remove my eye makeup and I didn’t want my mascara showing
  • A cup 
  • Scissors
  • String in the same color as the garment you’re using
  • A sewing needle 
  1. Lay out your garment and place the cup over the area you’ll be using for the pads. 
  2. Press the cup into the garment to create an impression
  3. Cut out a circular pad using the impression as a guide
  4. Sew the two pieces of fabric together 

Care: I like to quickly wash these by hand, but you can also put them in a mesh laundry bag and throw them into the washing machine. 

Note: Because the t-shirt I chose had hand-stitching on it, I was only able to use the bottom portion of the t-shirt for the pads. 

I used the rest of the t-shirt for another craft, found in the cleaning section. 

These are my resulting makeup remover pads. I made 6 in total.

Cleaning

Cleaning Cloths

Any scrap material you have (like the remainder of the t-shirt I used to make the makeup removing pads) can be used to create these cleaning cloths. 

The process is very similar to that of the makeup removing pads. 

Note: Because my t-shirt has handstitched lettering on it, I turned it inside out first. 

This is what mine looked like when it was ready to be sewed
  1. If you’re working with a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt, cut off the sleeves so you’re left with a square/ rectangle shape. 
  2. Sew together the open sides at the sleeve area as well as the collar so there are no open gaps. 

That’s it!

I use these types of cloths to wipe down counters or for areas that require gentle cleaning. 

Care: Simply throw in the washing machine with the rest of your garments in a mesh laundry bag). You can also hand wash if you so choose. 

Cleaning Wipes

Turn those cleaning cloths into disinfecting wipes with this quick and easy recipe by Live Simply

Cleaning Mitts

Anyone have any single socks laying around? 

🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️

Why not turn otherwise upcycle single socks into something practical? 

I like to use clean single socks as a mitt for everyday household cleaning. 

Think light dusting, cleaning a shower/ bathtub, etc.

Household

Scarf Planter

Image by Mountain Modern Life

I love this idea to upcycle an old scarf into a decorative planter by Mountain Modern Life.

It adds color and interest and shows a little bit of your personality too.

What’s not to like? 

Corner Bookmark

Image by Crafty Staci

As an avid reader, I love the idea of upcycling an old t-shirt into a corner bookmark by Crafty Staci.

Taking something unusable and turning it into something so stylish and functional is genius.

Sweater Coasters

Image by decor8

Another great way to add personality into your space is through sweater coasters, as showcased in this craft by decor8.

These are so cute and chic, especially when paired with a cute drink for the ‘gram 😉.

Lavender Sock Satchets

Image by Food52

These lavender sock satchets by Food52 are more useful than you can imagine. 

If you have a lot of spare socks and like the scent of lavender, you’ll love this craft. 

I’ve made some for just about every purse and bag I own as well as for my closet. 

Tie Glasses Case

Image by Make.co

These glasses cases by Make.co are so cute and are a very personal touch compared to the typical cases glasses come in. 

No Sew Pillowcase

You’ll never need to buy another pillowcase after this. 

Trust me. 

This tutorial by 5 Minute Crafts is super simple and the best part is you don’t have to know how to sew to create it!

Shopping

T-Shirt Produce Shopping Bags

Image by Delia Creates

No more single use plastic produce bags in your future!

These produce bags by Delia Creates are so cute and easy to make, you’ll be proud to bring them with you to the grocery store!

Clothing

Refashioned Track Pants

Image by Trash to Couture

A great way to upcycle track pants that are a little worn for wear and fraying at the bottom is to crop them as shown in this tutorial by Trash to Couture.

Cropped T-Shirt

Cropping a baggy or old t-shirt is a great way to breathe new life into the garment, much like the track pants. 

The best part? 

It takes literally minutes. 

You’ll need: 

  • A t-shirt
  • Scissors 
  • A ruler 
  • A marker
  1. Try on the t-shirt and make note of where you would like to crop it
  2. With a marker and ruler, draw a line across the t-shirt marking where you’re going to cut it
  3. Cut along the line you drew and voila, you have yourself a cropped t-shirt!

Let me know in the comments what ideas you’re planning on doing to upcycle your clothes. 

In the meantime, I’m going to take my own advice and keep at the scrapbooking. 

Wish me luck. 

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