DIY Upcycle Old Clothes:

When clothes get damaged or worn, don’t fit or are simply no longer wanted, what do we do with them? Some may go to charity/thrift shops, some may be sold online but how much clothing is simply thrown away? According to, up to 92 million tonnes of garments end up in landfills every year. This is an enormous amount of waste and whilst, undoubtedly, something should be done on a large global scale, we as individuals can still make a difference at home. By upcycling our old clothes in a variety of creative ways, we can have some fun whilst reducing waste and supporting a sustainable lifestyle. So, if you’d like to explore some creative ideas on how to DIY upcycle old clothes, then read on…

In this article you’ll find out about creative ways to transform those old items of clothing into something unique and useful. And you don’t even have to have sewing experience! These ideas span from no-sew hacks to sewing projects, and even dip into home interior design opportunities.

No-Thread Needed: No-Sew Ideas

These easy no-sew projects means you can transform old clothes into something new and functional without the need for a sewing machine or even a needle and thread. So, it’s perfect for those who haven’t quite mastered the art of sewing or are just looking for a quick and easy project.

1. Tote Bags

Creating eco-friendly tote bags from aged T-shirts is a very easy, first project.

  • Cut off the sleeves and neckline to create bag opening and handles.
  • For the bottom of the bag, either cut a fringe at the bottom of the t-shirt and knot each fringe securely or gather the bottom of the t-shirt together and tie tightly with a piece of the offcut from the t-shirt.  
  • For detailed video instructions click here.

2. Rags and Cleaning Cloths

  • Cut those old clothes into pieces and use them as rags and cleaning cloths that won’t cost you extra and will reduce the waste you generate.
  • These can be used for wiping down counters, dusting off shelves, or cleaning your car!

3. Hairbands and Hair Ties

  • Using old stretchy garments to make hair accessories is by far one of the simplest upcycling ideas.
  • The stretchy fabric from tights or jersey tops can be cut into strips to create the perfect headband or hair tie.
  • No fraying edges, no sewing – just immediate hairstyling solutions. for inspiration, click here.

4. Gift Wrap

  • If you’re looking for some unique, eco-friendly gift wrap, then using that unused fabric in your closet is the perfect solution.
  • Fabric gift wrapping, also known as furoshiki, is not only an ancient art but a way to add a touch of personality to your presents.
  • Plus, it’s reusable, meaning it keeps on giving.

So there you have it! Some simple no-sew upcycling projects for you to try. Now, if you have some sewing experience, or are willing to give it a try, then the following ideas are for you. These sewing upcycling projects require a bit more time and effort, but the rewards are certainly worth the effort.

Stitch Your Own Story: Sewing Ideas

5. Patchwork Quilt

  • Quilting does take a certain amount of skill but don’t let that deter you from trying this out.
  • Practice makes perfect and ultimately it doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ if it’s made with love!
  • Quilting is a traditional craft in many cultures so you may know someone who can already quilt and can guide you through the process.
  • By gather various pieces of fabric from old clothes or soft furnishings and sewing them together will create a unique patchwork quilt.
  • Each piece can tell a story or hold a memory, making your quilt a personalized keepsake.

6. Cushion Covers

  • Give your throw pillows a makeover with new cushion covers made from old fabric.
  • Sew the pieces together to create covers that add a personal touch to your home decor.
  • A great way to refresh your living space.
  • For detailed video instructions, click here.
  • For a no-sew cushion cover click here.

7. Clothing Upgrades

  • Revamp your wardrobe by adding patches, pockets, or trims from old fabric to existing clothing items.
  • This sewing project can give your clothes a fresh, updated look without the need to buy new ones.

8. Stuffed Toys

  • Use old fabric to sew stuffed toys for children.
  • Simple patterns for animals or shapes can be found online or you can create your own.
  • These handmade toys will be cherished and also prevent fabrics from going to landfill.

9. Downsize Garments

  • Convert old dresses, skirts, or shirts into aprons or children’s clothes.
  • for an apron – cut the fabric to size and add straps using pieces from the same or another garment.
  • Use a pattern for a child’s dress or trousers
  • These custom outfits make a stylish addition to any wardrobe.

These ideas may require some degree of sewing skill but they are definitely worth trying out. We’re now moving on to some ideas for upcycling clothes into your home decor. From simple curtain tie-backs to adventurous wall art, there is something for everyone here.

Home Decor Ideas

10. Fabric Wall Art

  • Create unique wall art by arranging and sewing together pieces of fabric from old clothes.
  • You can create abstract designs, landscapes, or even portraits using fabric pieces.
  • Cover sections of your walls with fabric to create decorative wall panels.
  • Use old curtains, bedspreads, or large pieces of clothing.
  • Fabric wall panels can add warmth and color to a room, and they’re an easy way to update your decor without painting.
  • It’s a great way to display your creativity and make use of fabric scraps.

11. Rag Rugs & Baskets

  • Make a rag rug or storage basket by braiding strips of old fabric and sewing them together in a circular or rectangular pattern.
  • This project adds a cozy and rustic element to your home, perfect for a living room, bedroom, or bathroom.
  • Rag rugs and rag baskets are durable and can be made in various sizes to fit different spaces. They’re also a great way to use up fabric scraps and create something functional.
  • For detailed video instructions for a rag rug, click here.
  • Megan Neilsen on Youtube has some excellent suggestions for using up old clothes and fabric.

12. Curtain Tiebacks and Embellishments

  • Use strips of fabric to create decorative tiebacks for your curtains.
  • You can braid, knot, or simply tie the fabric around the curtains.
  • Add fabric embellishments like ruffles or patches to plain curtains to give them a customized, designer feel.
  • Change the tiebacks seasonally or for special occasions to keep your decor fresh.


Upcycling old clothes is a creative and sustainable way to reduce waste and personalize your items. Whether you’re crafting no-sew tote bags, sewing a patchwork quilt, or creating fabric wall panels, there are countless ways to give new life to your old garments. By upcycling, you not only save money but also contribute to a more sustainable environment. Try these DIY upcycle projects and share your creations to inspire others.

I’d love to hear which ideas your are going to try or which ideas you have already tried out. If you’d like to share your ideas and thoughts with us, please leave a comment below.

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  1. A really insightful article that’s given me a lot of food for thought thanks for sharing Elaine. I admit I tend to either donate old clothes or throw them away (sorry!!!), but you’ve given me some great ideas for things I can now do with them. I also greatly appreciate you providing some beginner friendly ways of re-suing my old clothes that don’t involve sowing as I’m utterly terrible at that. Although I do love the idea of making a patchwork quilt that would be perfect for winter, so maybe it’s a skill that I can try and learn at some point in the future. But for now I think I will stick to the beginner friendly methods you’ve provided for me to have a go at.

    Thanks again for the cool article.

    1. Thanks for your comments James.  I’m so pleased to hear you will give some of the no-sew projects a go.  

      I too would love to make a patchwork quilt – maybe that will be my autumn project! 

  2. Hey a great post you have here!

    I really like when old items or those which are no longer needed are instead reused or brought back to life. The facts which you have stated about waste certainly does open your eyes more into why it is important to try to make use of unwanted items. These ideas where no needles are required gives not much excuses as to why anyone can’t put old items to use again!

    Thanks for all this information and have a great day!

    1. Thank you for your comments.  I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading it.  I agree there are some really easy no-sew uses for our unwanted clothes so we can all do our little bit for the environment and prevent clothes going into landfill.  

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