The dictionary defines repurposing as adapt for use in a different purpose.  Pretty straightforward really. 

 What does repurposing mean with respect to clothes? 

 The dictionary definition conjures up fabulous creative crafting sessions with wildly talented ideas being put into practise.  I think many of us have limiting beliefs about our own sphere of creativity and that may put us off repurposing as we foolishly believe it’s beyond us.   This is why I have included some options for those who do not consider themselves creative!

Why Should We  Be Repurposing Our Clothes?

1. To make them last longer,
2. To get more wear from them
3. To get a better return on that initial investment.
4. To reduce the carbon footprint of our wardrobes – to break the cycle of consume and abandon.
5. To cover up our clumsiness – sorry that’s really referring to me! I have to be one of the clumsiest people ever and thinking how I can cover up a stain or two!

Creative Repurposing Quick And Simple

 

While I consider myself quite creative – I’m good at the ideas side. 

I can even envisage the end result.  But I’m impatient when it comes to the bit in between and if it’s going to take longer than a Sunday afternoon, forget it! 

 So the creative ideas I’m going to give you are practical and quick!

repurposing clothing projects

What Is The Worst Thing That Can Happen To A Pair Of Converse?

You spill something on them and they’re left with a stain! Don’t despair – turn them into a pair of glitter converse.

All you need is some environmentally friendly glitter, some fabric glue and a large sheet of newspaper on the work surface you’re going to use. Then treat yourself to some bright coloured laces and you’ve got a great pair of going out boots!

Get Some Outside Help:
Perhaps you don’t have stained converse but you’ve wrecked a pair of shoes and there seems no option but to bin them. Don’t – instead contact Catherine of Shoodle and ask her to transform them for you. Catherine doesn’t just do shoes but also paints leather jackets and is super talented!

repurposing converse trainers

Designer ripped jeans with gaping holes

Before I realised how unsustainable ripped jeans are (unless they’re lasered to generate the rips) I was a real ripped jean fan.

 The only problem being that the more you wear them, the more fragile they become and the designer rips turn into unsightly holes.  

So create your own unique patch system.  I have lots of samples of faux fur and have taken to using the sample squares to patch my jeans.  But you could also put stretchy lace underneath in patches and sew it in place.    You could also use other fabrics too. 

Wouldn’t be seen dead in ripped jeans – it’s okay I won’t be offended!  But you could also use patches of fabric to give a longer life to a beloved jumper or shirt.

 

Get Some Outside Help:

Buy some iron on patches – I would recommend that if you do use these that you do also sew a very quick seam around the edge of these through the shirt or jumper.  In my experience the adhesive breaks down after a few washes.

Denim Jacket In Need Of  A Lift?

I went through a phase (it didn’t last long as I got bored and the projects were taking longer than a Sunday afternoon)  of upcycling denim jackets.  I’d buy them from eBay and give them a new lease of life.

Either cut the sleeves out and wear as a waistcoat or using scraps of fabric to re-design the back. 

 If you want to give this a try then I’d check out Pinterest for ideas.   

Get Some Outside Help:

Check out Etsy or Instagram and see who you might find who may be interested in helping you to give your denim jacket a new lease of life.  Check out recycled denim jackets or upcycled denim jackets to find the talented people out there who may be able to help you.

repurposing denim jacket

Repurposing Via A Colour Change

I bought a jumpsuit in the summer from a peer-to-peer resale site – when it arrived the colour was much too brown for me.   Reselling it would be a faff, but I wasn’t going to wear it the colour it was.  So I invested £7 in a tub of dye and set about repurposing it with a colour makeover. 

 

 I did use a manufactured, rather than natural dye.  But Dylon does guarantee that its products do not cause any environmental damage. 

 

 Dyeing clothes is easy – so I’m not going to give you a ‘get some help option’ for this repurposing idea.  All you need to do is follow a few simple instructions:

 

  1. Check that the fabric you’re planning to dye is natural not synthetic
  2. Consider the base colour of your garment before choosing the colour – don’t expect to dye a navy top turquoise for example!
  3. Think about whether the garment you’re dying has finishes that may be synthetic. I recently dyed a brown top black but the polyester lace has turned a sort of bronze colour!

Thinking Outside the Box

I had a fairly new, gorgeous and quite expensive top that I’d left to dry flat on the worktop in our utility room. Unbeknown to me, someone had left a rag on there with some bleach on it earlier and hadn’t wiped it properly.

One dark top with sleeves covered in uneven bleach stains and splashes of bleach around the neckline… I was heartbroken. 

This was a project beyond a Sunday afternoon experiment for me.  So I took it down to my local drycleaners and alteration shop which is run by a fantastic talented seamstress.

She was inspired and told me that we could simply create a new top from the disaster! 

She sent me off to buy some fabric, so that she could replace the sleeves and I could then make the splashes more of a feature with a cotton bud and the bottle of bleach.  came up with the idea of me buying some fabric, she’d replace the sleeves and then I could make the splashes around the neckline into a design feature. 

Hey presto I had a fabulous ‘new’ and unique top that I didn’t have to discard as a result of repurposing! 

Making friends with a local seamstress if you are not happy sewing yourself is priceless!

Now It’s Your Turn!

So the next time you’re thinking that perhaps an item of clothing is fit only for textile recycling, stop and think.  What could you do either on your own or with a bit of help to give it a new lease of life?

 I’d love to hear your ideas about how you have repurposed clothing. Please feel free to share them in the comments or drop me an email.