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Upcycling Clothing

Updated on November 23, 2014
Upcycled denim bag
Upcycled denim bag | Source

Upcycling Jeans, Sweaters, T-shirts, and More

When you upcycle clothing you are not only saving yourself money and cutting down on the amount of stuff that is thrown away, but you are creating a one of a kind item, whether it be a piece of clothing, a bag, or something decorative for your home.

On this page you'll find dozens of ways to upcyle your jeans, your sweaters, your shirts, and more. Many of the pictures shown here will serve as inspiration, providing you with ideas of what you can do with those worn out jeans or that out of fashion sweater.

I am also including some tutorials, which will walk you step by step through some upcycling clothing projects.

Upcycling Clothing into New Clothing

Upcycling T-shirts and Shirts into New Clothing
Upcycling T-shirts and Shirts into New Clothing | Source

Some tutorials for upcycling t-shirts and shirts into new clothing

  1. Tops made from old shirts:

    - shirred tank top (pictured above) created using an adult-sized t-shirt

    - a lady's tunic made from a man's shirt

    - lady's ascot top

    - lady's blouse made from a man's shirt

  2. Upcycling shirts into dresses:

    - cute girl's dressfrom an adult's shirt. Don't miss the link for matching kids' capri type pants made from the sleeves of the shirt.

    - girl's upcycled dress made from a man's dress shirt

    - lady's wrap top dress made by combining two t-shirts

    - girl's dress with elastic sleeves made from a man's shirt

  3. Skirts made from shirts:

    - adult skirt using an adult-sized t-shirt

    - toddler's ruffle skirt from a t-shirt

  4. Hats made from old shirts

    - cute floral caps

    - anime hat with bunny ears

    - adult and child sized beret pattern

Links checked Jun 2013

Upcycling Sweaters into New Clothes
Upcycling Sweaters into New Clothes | Source

Some tutorials for upcycling sweaters into new clothing

  1. Convert sweaters into dresses:

    - cowl neck dress

    - girl's sweater dress

    - another girl's dress

  2. Make some hats:

    - hat with plaited straps

    - aviator-style hat

    - Santa hat

    - boy's brimmed beanie hat

  3. Make a variety of scarves from recycled sweaters:

    - hooded scarf

    - button-up scarf

    - cowl scarf

  4. Make footwear from old sweaters:

    - argyle boots

    - felted slippers

  5. Instructions for converting a child's sweater into a hat, arm warmers and a headband

Links checked Jun 2013

Upcycling Denim Jeans into New Clothing
Upcycling Denim Jeans into New Clothing | Source

Some tutorials for upcycling jeans into new clothes

  1. Here are some ideas for creating skirts from jeans:

    - knee-length skirt

    - tight skirt

    - flared skirt

    - short skirt

    - toddler's skirt

  2. Make a variety of denim aprons:

    - apron with a colorful border

    - craft apron

    - gardening apron

  3. Make a toddler's visor from recycled jeans
  4. Instructions for making sweet ballet slippers from recycled denim

Links checked May 2013

Clothing Upcycled into Bags

Upcycling Sweaters into Bags
Upcycling Sweaters into Bags | Source

Some tutorials for upcycling sweaters into bags

  1. Instructions for making a tote from a long sleeved sweater and the rims off some peanut cans
  2. Tutorial for converting a wool sweater into a felted bag with rose accents
  3. Make a laptop bag from a recycled sweater
  4. Convert a felted sweater into an overnight bag

Links checked Feb 2014

Upcycling Jeans and Pants into Bags
Upcycling Jeans and Pants into Bags | Source

Tutorials for Upcycling Jeans and Pants into Bags

  1. Make a clutch from a pair of jeans
  2. Instructions for making a lined bag from an old pair of linen pants
  3. Make a drawstring ditty from denim jeans
  4. Make a shoulder bag from jeans

Links checked Mar 2014

Upcycling T-shirts and Shirts into Bags
Upcycling T-shirts and Shirts into Bags | Source

Instructions for upcycling shirts into bags

  1. Instructions for making a rosette purse from an old shirt
  2. Create a coin purse from an old shirt cuff
  3. Stretchy grocery bag made from ann old t-shirt
  4. Make a toiletry bag from an old dress shirt

Links checked 15 May 2013

Upcycling Miscellaneous Clothing and Fabrics into Bags
Upcycling Miscellaneous Clothing and Fabrics into Bags | Source

Instructions for upcycling miscellaneous clothing into bags

  1. Make a tote and zipper pouch from a recycled rug and belt
  2. Instructions for making a lined purse from a suit jacket
  3. Clothing, sheets, or curtains can be cut into strips which are then joined and knitted to make these delightful purses.

Instructions to make a backpack from an old suit jacket start 40 seconds in and finish 3 minutes in.

Upcycling Clothing into Home Decor

Upcycling Jeans into Home decor
Upcycling Jeans into Home decor | Source

Tutorials for Upcycling Jeans and Pants into Home Décor

  1. Instructions for reupholstering a chair with a recycled pair of jeans
  2. A variety of crafts to make from your old jeans including denim pots, oven mitt, coaster and baby's bib.
  3. Upcycle old jeans into a raggedy denim pillow
  4. Fluffy rag rug made from squares cut from old jeans (and slacks)

Links checked May 2013

Upcycling Sweaters into Home Décor
Upcycling Sweaters into Home Décor | Source

Tutorials for Upcycling Sweaters into Home Décor

  1. Make a soft cushion with flowers from a recycled sweater
  2. Tutorial for making a sweater pillow
  3. How to make an aromatherapy rice pillow from a felted sweater
  4. Make cute pin cushions from recycled wool sweaters
  5. Make a cozy patchwork throw from several old sweaters

Links checked May 2013

Upcycling Shirts and T-shirts into Homewares
Upcycling Shirts and T-shirts into Homewares | Source

Tutorials for Upcycling T-shirts and Shirts into Home Décor

Links checked 23 May 2013

Long leg chicks
Long leg chicks | Source

Tutorials for Upcycling Miscellaneous Clothing (suits, socks, pantyhose, other fabric) and Fabrics into Home Décor

  1. Several tutorials for different styles of floor rugs:

    - toothbrush rag rug

    - no-sew rag rug. (Also trivet, pot-holder, placemat.)

    - Fluffy rag rug

    - Woven rag rug

  2. Make a rag quilt from squares you could cut from old clothing
  3. Make hot / cold rice-filled bags from small scraps of fabric
  4. Make Christmas caroler dolls from recycled tweed coats and skirts
  5. Make a sock wreath
  6. Make sweet butterflies from colorful pantyhose
  7. Make pretty flowers from sheer tights:

    - calla lily If you scroll to the bottom of the instructions on each of the following pages, you'll find links to more flowers made from sheer nylon. Lots of different flowers if you follow the trail.

    - daisy

    - tulip

Links checked May 2013

Upcycling Clothing into Jewelry

Upcycling Clothing into Jewelry
Upcycling Clothing into Jewelry | Source

Tutorials for Upcycling Clothing into Jewelry

  1. Make braided bracelets from old t-shirts
  2. T-shirt necklace tutorial
  3. More bracelets made from old t-shirts
  4. Make a flower from old t-shirts
  5. Make a spiral bracelet from old jeans
  6. Convert tights into a color block headband

Links checked May 2013

Make a Necklace and Wallet from an Old Necktie

Upcycling Clothing into Toys

upcycling clothes into toys
upcycling clothes into toys | Source

Instructions for Making Toys from Recycled Clothing

  1. Toys made from upcycled denim

    - Cute idea of recycling jeans into a toy road

    - Make a sling shot from an old pair of jeans

    - Make soft balls out of scraps of fabric, like jeans.

  2. Toys made from old sweaters

    - Stuffed animals made from felted sweaters

    - Soft bunnies made from a felted cashmere sweater

  3. Toys made from ties

    - Snake toys made from upcycled ties

  4. Toys made from socks

    - Worry wort alien made from a sock and filled with rice

    from the author of Socks Appeal (the book featured below))

    - Teddy bear made from a sock

Links checked May 2013

Make sock animals from odd socks

Recycling Shoes

Ideas for Recycling Shoes

  1. New shoes from old:

    - Make new sandals from old flipflops

    - Make braided sandals from old flip-flops

    - Make a pair of spa slippers from old flip-flops and a bath towel

  2. Recycle shoes into planters:

    - Instructions for making a shoe planter

    - How to use clogs as hanging planters

Links checked May 2013

Have you ever tried upcycling clothing? - Share your experiences with us

Submit a Comment

  • Margaridab profile image

    Margarida Borges 

    2 years ago from Lyon, France

    Very good DIY lens. Lot's of great ideas

  • CarrieM925 profile image


    5 years ago

    This is such a fun lens. Thanks for sharing all this info.

  • Margaret Schindel profile image

    Margaret Schindel 

    6 years ago from Massachusetts

    Oh my goodness! What a fabulous lens filled with wonderful ideas for upcycling clothing! ~ Blessed! ~

  • Lorna Jean Aro profile image

    Lorna Jean Aro 

    6 years ago

    nice lens :D

  • MissionBoundCre profile image


    6 years ago

    Love thebed spread from old jeans and the area carpet. I love making fabric flowers out of old cloths.

  • GonnaFly profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Australia

    @MissMalaprop: Very clever!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I've done a lot of clothing upcycling - I do a lot with old jeans especially, but I've done lots of other things too. I even made a dress out of upcycled FEMA tarp once!

  • ItayaLightbourne profile image

    Itaya Lightbourne 

    6 years ago from Topeka, KS

    Oh I do love this article! I've saved it to refer back to as it really gets my creative juices going with different things I want to upcycle into something awesome. :)

  • peggygallyot profile image


    6 years ago

    I never thought that there are so many other ways of using the t shirt. I love your lens. Thank you for sharing.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I haven't yet, you are very inspiring, I love your work and all, you made me regret throwing my winter clothes last week to get prepred for the summer; but you know it was never easy to put old fashioned clothes away, because my clothes are always new but old fashioned,

    thanks for the hard work you did!!

  • Heidi Vincent profile image

    Heidi Vincent 

    6 years ago from GRENADA

    Really nice! I especially loved the upcycling of the jeans to bags and clutches. They really look great and I would not have thought of that.

  • bonusprint lm profile image

    bonusprint lm 

    6 years ago

    Very artistic and lovely lens

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Great lens! I have sooo many old pairs of jeans!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    "I Like This"

  • AgingIntoDisabi profile image


    6 years ago

    What a cool idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    @jolou: Agree! The handbag is very lovely.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    yes, I tried to upcycle a t- shirt into a tablecloth. And it does work, not beautiful but workable.

  • Zodiacimmortal profile image


    6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

    OMG! I LOVE your lens! I have included it on my Fave lenses lens.

    I have some other DIY lenses & other assorted topics on there. (think of it as a a bookmarking & my way of an angel blessing (being I'm not one yet)

  • Gypzeerose profile image

    Rose Jones 

    6 years ago

    I was amazed by this lens and clicked on a lot of your links. The rag rug from tee-shirts was amazing - no sewing or crocheting required. Angel Blessed - pinned to my Thrifty Living board, as well as Arts and Crafts I love.

  • Mary Crowther profile image

    Mary Crowther 

    6 years ago from Havre de Grace

    I've never tried it, but I love these ideas!

  • blazingzone lm profile image

    blazingzone lm 

    6 years ago

    Great lens, thanks for sharing .

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I have worked with upcycling glass, but not clothing. I loved some of your ideas. Thanks!

  • intermarks profile image


    6 years ago

    I made my pencil box and school bag with my Jeans.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    i have...upcycled shirts are my thing :)

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    very inspiring lens, thanks for sharing..

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I haven't, but I will now :)

  • Linda Pogue profile image

    Linda Pogue 

    6 years ago from Missouri

    I like to make leg and arm warmers from old sweaters, and purses from old jeans. Nicely done. Blessings.

  • desa999 lm profile image

    desa999 lm 

    6 years ago

    Not yet, but really appreciated your ideas.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Cuffs, with ends cut off, can usually be stuffed sew ends after lightly stuffing, sew several together by long edges and you have a hot pad.

  • jlshernandez profile image


    6 years ago

    I like the tote bag from upcycled denim. Pretty cool and fashionable. Thanks for the great ideas.

  • Pam Irie profile image

    Pam Irie 

    6 years ago from Land of Aloha

    Loved the sweater throw and I'm sure I have relatives in the mainland who would appreciate one.

  • KateHonebrink profile image


    6 years ago

    I have not tried upcycling clothing yet, but after seeing all these great ideas, I'm ready for anything! Great job on this lens and kudos for making the upcycling monsterboard!

  • allenwebstarme profile image


    6 years ago

    Some great recycling tips that saves lot of money.

  • microfarmproject profile image


    6 years ago

    Wow! Tons of really cool ideas. Thanks for posting.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    No, I have not tried upcycling clothing...lately. I used to when my kids were younger and the internet had not been invented.

    This is an excellent lens with an amazing amount of thought provoking information, projects and, details. Thank you for sharing.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Not yet, but there are lots of ideas here that are intriguing!

  • Fcuk Hub profile image

    Fcuk Hub 

    6 years ago

    No I haven't yet. But according this great lens, must be a great clothing :)

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    This is outstanding! I wish we returned to a time when we'd reuse stuff instead of just throwing it all out like yesterday's garbage. Incidentally, I used to have a skirt back in the '80s similar to the denim jeans skirt in this lens, except the fabric was made out of white cotton. To this day I miss it! :-(

  • emmaklarkins profile image


    6 years ago

    This makes we wish for a little more talent on the sewing machine!

  • gpsjim profile image


    6 years ago

    Great list of tutorials and ideas, very nice post!

  • flycatcherrr profile image


    6 years ago

    Heaps of great ideas here for my stockpile of holey old jeans!

  • MartieG profile image

    MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

    6 years ago from Jersey Shore

    I love these projects - what a great way to recycle these items - I really dislike waste and this will take care of that - blessed :>)

  • lilymom24 profile image


    6 years ago

    There are some really awesome ideas here and I love the legwarmers that are made from sweater sleeves! I reuse my old jeans by making tug of war toys for my dog. Great lens. =)

  • VarietyWriter2 profile image


    6 years ago

    Nicely done. Blessed :)

  • jolou profile image


    6 years ago

    What creative ideas! I especially like the handbags.


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