By transforming thrift store or found-in-the back-of-the-closet clothing items from something old into something new we are acting mindful of and in practical ways for our planet. By re-fashioning once treasured clothing, we combine the time-honored tradition of one of the oldest of crafts, namely sewing, with the knowledge that living and working with care for the environment, economy and community is at the heart of sustainability – a desire to achieve human and ecosystem well-being now and into the indefinite future.
By whatever name sustainability is known by today - recycling, re-fashioning, re-purposing, re-do, re-using, upcycle, or any number of descriptions that explain an alteration of some sort in order to continue an objects usability, all are beneficial actions for our planet.
A few repurposing sewing projects from the past involved a “waste-not, want-not” type of necessary behavior, where the austerity of the Great Depression made sewers make do by recycling - for making coats and jackets out of old blankets, patterned flower and feed sacks became quilts and little girl’s dresses, and rags became useful for making rag throw rugs or mattress stuffing. Contemporary re-purposing may not necessarily be done out of extreme hardship reasons, but mindfulness of the importance of sustainability as well as an outlet for creativity and desire for a unique fashion style.
Some old favorite re-purposed, recycled, or upcycled sewing projects to consider:
Pullover sweater into an embellished cardigan - a well-known idea, or a turtle-neck sweater collar transformed into more modern neck options. Felted mostly wool sweaters into slippers, tea cozies or hot pads.
Old sweaters into new mittens and hats, pillow covers or fashionable boot socks or leg warmers.
Men’s thrift store ties into fabric flowers or children’s stuffed toys.
Pillowcases into little girl’s dresses.
Adding lace edging to denim jacket sleeves, pockets, collars and lower jacket edges for a new shabby chic look.
Baby onesies into memory bears or other animal stuffed toys as keepsakes.
Cotton lace tablecloths into breezy beach cover-ups or swingy circle skirts.
There are endless t-shirt upcycling ideas that can be found online, Pinterest.com is one of many helpful websites. Transform t-shirts into scarves, quilt tops, or make into lengths of thin strips to use to knit or crochet are just a few of dozens of useful ideas to extend the life of this now iconic knit shirt.
Sew happy, sew inspired.