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.

No ‘poo

I have not used shampoo in a little over a month.

Google “No poo method” and you will find over one million search results teaching you how to clean your hair without using shampoo and conditioner.  The miracle ingredients are two of my favorite things: baking soda and vinegar.

The general recipe is this: one heaping tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water, and one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water.  I eyeball mine, partly because I don’t have measuring spoons but mostly because I can very easily adjust as needed so I don’t need to bother being super precise.  You can adjust the baking soda or vinegar more or less depending on how your hair and scalp respond.

I use a plastic bottle (I had it lying around in my donate pile and salvaged for this operation) with a pull-top spout to mix the baking soda solution. The small spout makes it easy to get the solution into the roots of my hair.  I use a spray bottle for the vinegar mixture.  I use organic apple cider vinegar, but you can use distilled if that’s all you have.  I encourage the organic stuff though, it has given me better results.

The good: This method is free of nasty chemicals that hide in conventional shampoos and conditioners, which strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils.  You won’t have to wash your hair as often either!

The bad: People will probably think you’re a weird hippie, but it’s okay because your self-esteem is awesome.  It will fade your hair dye, but you don’t want those chemicals on your head anyway, right?

The ugly: There is usually a breaking-in period when switching to this method of haircare.  Because your scalp is used to being stripped of its oils, it may overcompensate for a while and your hair might get greasy pretty fast.  This is usually over within a couple weeks.  I didn’t even have this adjustment period, my hair just got awesome.  Your mileage may vary.

My results: I love it, and I have no plans to go back to shampoo.  I think my hair has better volume than it did when I used shampoo and conditioner, because the shampoo weighed down my hair with buildup, and there is no residue or buildup with this method. My dyed color has lightened, and it appears that my natural color, which I hate because it’s a dirty mousy brown color, actually seems brighter and doesn’t make me as upset when I see my roots — perhaps there is hope for a totally chemical-free head.  I also use the very same baking soda and vinegar solutions to scrub and tone my face in the shower — my acne is nearly gone!

Next project: DIY toothpaste from baking soda and salt.

What DIY bath products do you make at home?