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9 ways to reuse your old clothes

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Fancy giving your wardrobe a new lease of life but don't want to spend money on more clothes? Give your old clothes a makeover (and help the environment) with these upcycling ideas.

Everyone knows that fast fashion (constantly buying new, cheap clothes) is bad for the environment and society. For example, it takes 20,000 litres of water to make a single t-shirt and pair of jeans. And across the globe, we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing each year.

Selling your clothes is a great way to keep your wardrobe fresh and earn some money. But if there's some stuff you're attached to or you've got clothes that are too old to donate, then upcycling is the way forward.

There are loads of creative ways you can reuse your old clothes. If you get it right, you could upgrade your clothes into things you love even more than you did previously. Here are our top upcycling ideas for inspiration.

If you want to try upcycling but don't have any clothes you'd be happy practising on in case it goes wrong, check out charity shops. Or see if there are any vintage kilo sales in your area (where clothes are sold by weight – we kid you not!).

What to do with old clothes

Here are nine creative things you can do with old clothes and the best ways to repurpose them:

  1. Make your own glitter trainers

    DIY glitter trainers

    Credit: Love Maegan

    If you've got a scruffy pair of Converse that you can't bear to part with, then Love Maegan has the solution. Give them a glow-up by covering them in glitter.

    All you need is heaps of (environmentally friendly) glitter and some fabric glue. Your best bet is to mix the glitter with the glue when you apply it and add an extra layer of glue on top afterwards to keep everything in place. The last thing you want is to be leaving a trail of glitter wherever you go.

    You can also dye your laces to match, or even switch them for sparkly ribbon instead. Your new trainers for a night out are sorted!

  2. Turn your favourite t-shirts into a duvet cover

    It's a shame when you collect tour t-shirts from your favourite gigs or festivals over the years, only for them to end up being used as pyjamas. Or maybe you're holding on to some seriously ragged jumpers and t-shirts that you never wear anymore, but which have real sentimental value.

    Either way, a great way to avoid chucking these out and bringing them into the limelight instead is by turning them into a magnificent duvet cover – an idea from Stars for Streetlights.

    This one is a bigger job, and you'll need something called 'lightweight fusible iron-on interfacing fabric' to stop the t-shirts from stretching. Don't worry though, it's cheap to buy.

    If you don't have access to a sewing machine, it might take a while to get all the sewing done, but the extra effort is definitely worth it.

  3. Cut a t-shirt into a halter neck top

    If you've got an old baggy t-shirt that you never wear anymore, why not give it a new lease of life by turning it into a halter neck top?

    This method by Versace my Body is super easy to follow and can be done by pretty much anyone.

    Again, a sewing machine will make this much easier, but you can hand sew if you've got a bit of extra time (and patience). Other than that, you'll just need some paper to plan out your pattern, some scissors and pins.

    If you want to repurpose some of your old clothes for summer, this is the perfect solution.

  4. Turn old jumpers into cushion covers

    You can turn pretty much anything into a cushion cover, so this works for old t-shirts just as much as jumpers. Old fluffy jumpers are perfect for making cushion covers that'll make your room look much cosier.

    You'll need some of that fusible interfacing we mentioned above. This will ensure the jumper material maintains its shape and doesn't stretch.

    This method is super easy to do, and you can make the covers in minutes. Hallmark Channel have a straightforward method to follow.

    And if you're looking to make a bit of extra money, cushion covers are one of the best things to make and sell.

    Bonus tip: Try this out with any university hoodies you have and you'll have a nice souvenir for after graduation.

  5. Put your favourite t-shirts in a frame

    If you have any old band t-shirts, football strips or sentimental hoodies, you could turn them into art.

    If you use At Home with the Barkers' method, you can get this done in seconds. Simply buy a smart new frame and use it to plot out a matching square on the t-shirt.

    Cut out the square, tape it to the inside of the frame to keep it straight, and voilà.

  6. Make your own chokers

    girl wearing DIY choker

    Credit: Wildfire Charm

    Chokers have made a huge comeback. But, you don't need to fork out cash to buy them on the high street.

    Making them yourself is really easy to do (no sewing required) although you will have to invest in some materials to get started.

    Track down a fabric shop in your local area, and choose your favourite ribbons and lace. Velvet is a timeless classic and easy to work with, but you can use pretty much anything.

    You can also buy some charms to hang on to the front of the choker if you want some extra embellishment.

    Once you've measured and cut your ribbon, get yourself some press buttons and glue these to either side. This will enable you to clasp the necklace at the back.

    If you make high-quality upcycled products, you could try selling them online. Platforms like Depop and Etsy are great for this, and could help you make some extra income while you study.
  7. Cut jeans into shorts

    jeans cut with scissors

    Credit: Maryia_K – Shutterstock

    Don't know what to do with your old jeans? Simply grab a pair of scissors and turn them into shorts.

    Try them on first to make sure you get the right length. Then you can either fold up the edges or leave them loose to fray.

    To personalise them further, grab some scrap patterned material and use it to make (or cover) the pockets.

  8. Use material scraps to make hand warmers

    This is a great option for any unwanted clothes you have that are made of strong material without much elastic to them. T-shirts and jumpers won't work for this, but shirts will, as will some skirts and dresses. They also make excellent birthday and Christmas presents.

    Cut the material you have into roughly 5" x 5" squares and some extra squares the same size in a simple flannel material to double up and make the packs extra strong.

    Once you've sewn the squares together and filled them with uncooked rice. Blast them in the microwave for 30 seconds and you've got a great little hand warmer for those cold mornings.

    You can also create longer packs out of trouser legs. These can be placed along the bottom of your bed to keep your feet warm during winter. Check out Bee in my Bonnet's full tutorial for details on how to get started.

  9. Turn a baggy t-shirt into a dress

    If you've got a t-shirt that's too big for you, or a family member is trying to get rid of one, try experimenting with ways to upcycle it. With all the extra material to play around with, there are loads of options.

    There are tonnes of tutorials online, so get searching on YouTube and check out Pinterest for some great how-to guides and pictures. If they're extra big tops, they can double up as jersey dresses, for instance.

If you're planning to buy some new clothes, read our list of the best sustainable fashion brands.


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