How to Repurpose Old Textiles Into Home Decorations

Today’s blog is a guest post from Brenda Kimble. 

Your old shirts, pants and scarves don’t need to end up in the garbage because of a stain or a rip. If you can’t donate your old items, try upcycling and repurposing them to decorate your house.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to find vintage scarves or affordable, quality t shirts in bulk, check out these beautiful crafts and get ready to get busy in your creative space.

clothes basket

Repurposed T Shirts

One of the best things about t shirts is the way they feel, especially after they’ve been worn a few years. The soft, thin fabric lends itself to several projects that can make your home softer and more snuggly.

  • Start with this no-sew pillowcase. You will need a shirt with long sleeves to make the knot in the front. This is a good way to hide any holes or stains that can’t be fixed. Once it’s all tied up, no one will suspect this new throw pillow was once an old piece of clothing.
  • Have a lot of old shirts that no one is wearing anymore? Cut out the main body of each shirt and turn them into quilt blocks. The finished product is a soft piece of memorabilia that your children will have for years to come. Best of all, you save a lot of money by avoiding the fabric store.
  • Take any tourist t shirts and make them into cheap, easy works of art. If the shirt has some text or a nice design, like this one, cut it out and frame it. Once the fabric is behind the glass, it will look like an expensive, eye-catching piece. Have a few shirts? Do this as a collage to make the most of them.

chunky knit

New Life for Old Sweaters

The thick, textured feel of a sweater can lend itself to a number of crafts and add some unique touches around your home. Add some of that knitted charm to a number of pieces with these fun projects.

  • Anyone who has used a bunched-up sweater as a pillow substitute knows how comfy these pieces of clothing can be under a sleepy head. Take it one step further by making a sweater pillow. Feel free to incorporate any great buttons or interesting seams to add a special touch to this craft.
  • Do you have a little furry friend who likes to hang out in the kitchen or the mudroom? Then give your pet a special spot with this cozy sweater bed. Be sure to feature any nice patterns on the base to let it stand out like the argyle in the example. Your pet will love the warmth of the bed and the fact that it came from their home and family.
  • Decorate for fall with these fun and colorful sweater pumpkins. These come together fast, making it easy to make for a table decoration or an extra-special touch for your front porch. These are also fun to give away and for little ones to stack up and play with, thanks to their texture. Use any mix of colors and sizes you like — these look better with some variation.
  • A larger version of the pumpkins is this attractive sweater ottoman pouf. This is a cheap and easy way to add a footrest to your living room, home office or reading corner. You will have to buy some stuffing and plan a little more, but they’re worth the effort. It doubles as an extra seat that everyone will want to try.
  • Need to cuddle up even more? Try your hand at a felted wool sweater blanket. This requires a few different sweaters, as well as some cutting and sewing. However, the materials to make it will be easy to come by. Let your family and friends know you want to take their old sweaters off their hands, and the donated fabric will come pouring in. The author of this tutorial claims she made this quilt for a slim $11.
  • For a quick and little project, try making vase cozies. This changes up an old or fading vase with some new texture and possibly a few buttons. The thicker texture and softer feel means you can mix up your flowers with decorative twigs or taller flowers. These add a lot of visual interest and also help you continue a color story in a room.
  • If you need a nice little holiday touch this winter, take some old sweaters and turn them into quick holiday trees. These can be done as cones, as shown in the tutorial, or as flattened-tree shapes. Either way, they make a beautiful decoration for any buffet, a photo backdrop or in your centerpiece.

scarves

Gather Your Scarves

Like t shirts and sweaters, scarves offer a great alternative to expensive fabric. If you have a few too many scarves you’ve collected over the years or come across a box of cheap scarves at the thrift store, get going on these great touches to your house.

  • Get your modge podge and scarves together in the garden to give your old, plain planters a new look. This scarf planter project helps you make your pottery funky and fun. Your plants will look even more fabulous than normal with the help of a recycled scarf.
  • Dress up a bedroom or a reading corner with a quick touch to the ceiling, thanks to your scarves. This tutorial shows you how to take your most colorful wraps and turn them into a bohemian decoration that makes your space a little dreamier. This one is quick and fun, so don’t wait to try it.
  • For the holidays, add a little warmth to metal chairs by adding a scarf to the backs. This hot cocoa party host added to the look with mini candy canes and little chalkboards as seating cards. This is so lovely no one will mind sitting outside on a chilly day.
  • Need a great wreath? Try using an old plaid scarf to put a nice twist on an old favorite. Grab a wreath frame from your local craft store and then wrap a big, basic scarf around it. The winding movement will add some texture and visual interest to the wreath. Accessorize it with burlap ribbon, buttons or leaves.

Extra Projects to Try

Need more ways to dress up your house? There are still plenty of ideas for adding fun touches to every room.

  • Start by using an old lace or ruffled shirt to create a new lampshade. The added texture and color will make an everyday lamp look unique and expensive.
  • Have some old jeans you want to use up? Try making this beautiful braided rug for the living room, the mudroom or even a bathroom. The fabric is strong enough to be tread on throughout the day and will feel great under bare feet. If you have some denim leftover, use it to make some basic draft stoppers to keep you warm all winter.

 

About Brenda Kimble

Brenda Kimble
Brenda Kimble is a full-time, stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family. She is a frequent contributor to The Talkin’ T-Shirts Blog. She also enjoys strolling the streets of her quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas and finding the trendiest hotspots for fashion, food, and live music.

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Minimize your budget with Gillian

Today’s post is a guest blog by Gillian at Drop that Debt!  I also wrote a post for her blog today, which you can read here.

Hey all! I’m Gillian and I blog about personal finance over at Drop that Debt. It seems that Caitlin and I both started blogging and reading each others blogs around the same time, and I’ve been hooked ever since! Her Not-so-Minimalist Bathroom post was so eerily similar to my own experiences I just had to read more. I graduated school with a college diploma and a university degree like most young people do these days– in loads of debt. After a bit over 6 years in school, I was over $60,000 in debt with no real job prospects immediately leaving school. I was lucky enough to get a job serving a month after leaving school, which is not in my field but it is enough to pay the bills and it will do for now.

I got smacked by the reality train pretty hard after graduation. I realized that no, it is not as easy to pay off student loans as I thought it would be and yes, it will take me years to pay off my loans, even if I put over $1,000 per month towards them. I had been overspending during school, coupled with not earning enough to pay my tuition and living expenses and I decided I needed to finally get real about my finances so that I could throw any and all extra money at my student loans. Over the past 6 months, I have learned a lot about personal finance, what works, and what doesn’t work so well. Here are some things you can do if you find yourself not knowing where to start with getting your finances in order:

Create a budget. This is hands down the most important thing that got me on track when I started. You need to figure out approximately how much income you earn each month. Once you figure out how much you are bringing in, you can figure out how much you can afford to spend in each area. I had a set amount for rent, car insurance, car payments, and student loan payments (minimum monthly payments the institutions require) and everything else was under my control. I started by deciding how much money I wanted to dedicate for repayment of my loans. I decided on about $1,000 / month as an ultimate goal; and it’s slowly been climbing to reach that number.

Pay off your highest interest loans first. Both of my loans have fairly small interest rates. One is about 4% and the other is 4.5%. However, if you have a big credit card debt (18% +) or something else with higher interest rates, pay that off first. Make the minimum payments (or a bit above) and throw the rest of your extra money at the highest interest loan first. Once you pay the first loan off, you can add that payment onto any other loans you have.

Don’t discount anything. Even “fixed” costs can be cut back. It can be tough but often people end up living far outside of their means. If your rent is taking too large of a chunk of your budget, you should find a new place as soon as you can that is cheaper. If your mortgage payment is too big, it’s time to seriously consider selling your house and buying one that is worth less. The same thing goes for cars. It kills me that some people are making car payments that are $600 or more per month! I didn’t have too many high fixed costs but I still cut back where I could. I got my cell phone bill down from $73/month to about $33/month. Every $40 counts and can be used towards loan repayment, savings, or somewhere else.

Think before you buy. There can be many temptations when you are cutting back on spending, especially if you aren’t used to being careful with your money. Cute clothes, new gadgets and the like can be hard to ignore. I don’t deprive myself of anything (within reason), I just make sure it’s really worth the chunk of my budget before I buy it. Many times I’ve tried on clothes, left, then decided I didn’t need them after thinking on it for a day. Occasionally, the item really was worth it and I would go back the next day and make a purchase. Taking that extra time away from the store and the immediate gratification of the purchase often gives you the clarity to see that you don’t really need the item.

Since making these changes, I have consistently brought in far more money than I have paid out. My student loan payments are always high, generally in the $700 range each month and with some work I plan on increasing that number in 2013. These methods are surefire ways to get your finances in order.

If you would like to write a guest post for Born Again Minimalist, or if you would like me to write a guest post on your blog, please contact me via the suggestion box link above, or email bornagainminimalist@gmail.com.  Thank you for reading!