10 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes

Posted by on Jul 26, 2022

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upcycled lampshades making lights

Lampshades are, randomly enough, bizarrely pricey to buy new. So when you notice that your table lamp’s topper has seen better days, quickly re-cover it by using old fabric. That old sundress from last season is ideal for this, because it’s just lightweight enough to let light shine through.
Learn how to re-cover a lampshade from eHow.

upcycled spring garland
Sweet Spring Garland

Another great use for scrapped sundresses: fabric yo-yos. They’re meditatively soothing to make, requiring little more skill than cutting out a circle of fabric and cinching its edges with a basic running stitch. Once you have a bunch, string them up for a simple, pretty garland.
Check out the yo-yo garland tutorial from BYOV.
upcycled denim rag rug
Denim Rag Rug
This is another project that’s super-simple but creates a really impressive result. Denim strips (cut from that pile of old jeans) form the basis for a pretty rug that can handle daily wear-and-tear. Though you could braid the strips into a long rope, then stitch them in a spiral, why not take a moment and add weaving to your skill set?
Check out how to weave a rag rug from A Pair and Spare
upcpycled t-shirt jersey yarn
Super-Soft Jersey Yarn

By following the tips above for turning tees into a scarf necklace, you can also make fabulously chunky yarn. Hint: The more you stretch your T-shirt strips, the thinner the resulting yarn.
Get the how-to for making yarn out of T-shirts from Craft Passion.
upcycled t-shirt quilt
Keepsake T-Shirt Quilt

T-shirts with even the smallest bit of sentimental value (like the one you wore on the third date with your significant other) are sometimes hard to part with. But you don’t have to! Just snip out the screenprinted fronts, stitch together and you’re halfway to this terrific throw.
Learn the quick way to make a T-shirt quilt from Craft.
upcycled pillow cover
Quick and Quirky Pillow Cover

We love this idea, which uses a button-down shirt to give character to a plain sofa pillow. What’s genius about this is that it eliminates the hardest step of sewing a pillow cover (making the back closure), which is also the most time-consuming. And if you use a button-down with a pocket, you’ll have a little storage spot for a remote.
Learn how to turn a button-down into a pillow cover from House of Hawthornes.
upcycled sweater tote bag
Sweater Messenger Tote

Sweaters are prime candidates for turning into totes: The knitted yarn can stretch to accommodate whatever load you’re carrying. If you have any oversized '80s numbers that you’ve been holding onto, you’ll score enough material for at least two totes. 
Find out how to upcycle sweaters into a purses and totes from LazyTCrochet.
upcycled t-shirt scarf necklace
T-Shirt Scarf Necklace

Providing just a hint of transition-weather warmth and a lot of style, a scarf necklace is deceptively easy to make. (Even if we’ve seen them priced as high as $200.) Just cut a tee into strips, stretch, then knot the spaghetti-like ropes together. The more you add, the thicker your necklace.
Learn how to make a knotted scarf necklace out of T-shirts from The Hannah Conrad. (Scroll down for the step-by-step.)
upcycled t-shirt crochet bowl
Crocheted T-Shirt Bowl

One way to use the T-shirt yarn: For making this fab little fruit bowl. It’s way, way easier than it looks, trust us! Just crochet a simple spiral using a basic chain stitch and soon you’ll have a contemporary-chic centerpiece. (Psst … bookmark this one for any upcoming housewarming parties/hostess gifts.)
Learn how to crochet a bowl from Craft Stylish.
upcycled demin patchwork potholder
Patchwork Potholder

If you’re looking for a fabric that can stand up to the rigors of cooking, look no further than denim. We were surprised to learn that the material can handle hot oven temps just as well as scary synthetic fabrics. Now, you’ll have better results using scraps from non-stretchy jeans (not jeggings!), since the stretch fibers might melt when exposed to heat.
Learn another way to turn jeans into potholders from Alisa Burke.

Do you have a favorite way to upcycle old clothes? Tell us in the comments or email us at info@craftfoxes.com.