Saturday , 19 September 2020
New Uses for Children’s Old Clothing

New Uses for Children’s Old Clothing

New Uses for Children’s Old Clothing

A new year often brings with it well-meaning promises to get back on the treadmill that’s currently serving as a coat rack, trash the out-of-date magazines piled up beside the bed, or, more often than not, clean out the kids’ closets before the avalanche that spews out upon opening threatens to bury one of them.

This last resolution is often the most difficult, for implicit in this chore is a great deal of decision making. Those t-shirts are too small and have stains…but will your son allow you to remove his favorite team jersey? These little blouses were so sweet with their dainty fabrics and cute buttons…but your daughter’s tastes have gotten more sophisticated. And how can you bear to part with certain articles of clothing that hold within them all kinds of memories?

While passing on gently used clothing to younger ones or donating them to thrift stores are worthy ways to clean out overflowing closets, many crafters are also opting to upcycle their children’s clothes.

Here are three ideas for turning t-shirts and other articles of clothing into pieces with new lives and purposes.

Rag Rug


A rag rug made from tees and polos is a colorful and unique way to recycle these soft, absorbent knits. Squares cut from the knits are crimped in the center, placed close together in rows and sewn onto heavy duty canvas or upholstery samples which act as backs for the rugs. The backs are then zigzagged together to create small area rugs just right for wiping muddy feet or paws or bath rugs cozy and warm enough to dry wet toes. A small piece of rug padding underneath will minimize slippage. Easily washable, these rugs are also fun for kids to help make. For a more detailed tutorial, see

Buttoned-Up Pillows

Kids’ blouses and shirts sport a variety of pin stripes, plaids, ruffles and buttons. What makes for classic designs on these articles of clothing also translates into chic, stylish pillows to grace beds or sofas. A buttoned-up pillow is simple to make: all that is needed is an old dress shirt or blouse, a pillow form, some pins and a sewing machine.

Step 1: After ironing the shirt, button it and pin the front and back together.

Step 2: Cut out the shirt so that it matches the shape of your pillow insert, adding 2″ to the length and width. Remember to center the buttons!

Step 3: Unbutton the shirt, place the right sides together and sew a 6/8″ seam all the way around. Clip the corners.

Step 4: Turn the pillowcase right side out, iron flat and rebutton.

Step 5: Topstitch 1/8″ from the edges, then again at 3/8″. Unbutton the case, insert pillow form, and rebutton.

Contrasting rickrack or piping adds additional punch to these easy-to-sew treasures.

Memory Quilts


Taking a cue from our great grandparents who never wasted anything, use squares of fabric cut from outgrown dresses, pants and shirts to create a memory quilt. A quick online search should yield any number of sites with more specific directions; then be prepared to share stories of “remember when” with your children as you recall the fond memories each quilt square evokes. Who knows? This creation may be the very piece that’s secretly tucked away in a suitcase when its owner leaves home for college.

How about you? What clever ways have you found to repurpose the outgrown or seldom worn clothing in your child’s closet?

Chris Long is an on-the-floor store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs. Chris is also a frequent contributor on flooring topics for the Home Depot website, providing DIY tips on hardwood, tile, rugs and more. You can view Home Depot’s rug page here.


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  1. I haven’t got any children, but love to buy their pretty clothes from thrift shops for just a few pennies and use the sleeves to make little draw-string bags, simply cut the sleeves off (a piece about 4 – 6 “) make a seam across the opposite end to the cuff, and use a wool needle to thread a cord through the already there hem at the other end. I use these to present my hand made jewellery, or stuff with lavender to make cute little lavender sachets, the drawstring loop is ideal to hang on the hook of a coathanger, or on a door knob! The other parts I use for rag rugging, so nothing is wasted.

  2. Hi I love this idea too making things from recycled materials I make children ‘s clothes from quilt covers and adult clothing, I really enjoy it too I am looking to find somewhere to sell my items I would appreciate any idea you have I have been making them for years sold a few and given lots away, not very good as yet with computers so I hope you receive this message It would be good to get some feed back

    yours faithfully vanessa

  3. I don’t have small kids. But, I cut the cotton jersey fabric from used clothes in big squares and keep them in a container under the sink. It there are two t-shirts, and i don’t like them to wear as it is, then I cut the two and add the top to the other ones bottom to make a new one.

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