Dawn-Marie Potter

Home schooling mother of 3 amazing children, life coach/public speaker specializing in positive parenting of special needs children.

CAM00316 e1378616290985 Reusing old clothesIt’s that time of year again, the nights are getting colder, there’s a distinct chill in the air in the early mornings, and days are getting shorter. With every season change comes the cleaning out of dressers, but what to do with those clothes that no longer fit? Typically I give my children’s “too smalls” to various people through a group called Freecycle. It lets me post what I have to offer for free to people who are local to me who can pick up my offerings. Emails are exchanged and I know that someone else is getting good use out of things I (or in this case my kids) don’t need anymore. But with their clothes, I always find myself reluctant to give away a couple of pieces.

Sometimes it’s a shirt one of them wore on their first day of ______ or whatever the memory that is attached to that specific item that causes my heart to pang at the idea of no longer having it. Almost as if the memory is somehow attached to that article of clothing instead of being firmly lodged within my own mind and heart. While I understand my memories are not housed within the item, they are housed within me I still have trouble giving those precious few pieces away. But as each season passed a couple of pieces wouldn’t make it onto Freecycle and would end up in a box in my closet. Then slowly that one box became two and so on as more seasons passed and more children were born. What do to with those clothes??? Perhaps you’re like me and you don’t really want boxes of things you and yours won’t or can’t use cluttering up your home, but at the same time you still want to somehow keep them. Here are a few of the ways I’ve been reusing old clothes so that I could keep them guilt free!


1)      Blankets

2)      Bags/Purses

3)      Wall Art

4)      Story boards/ calendars

5)      Storage Containers/Gift Bags


From sew your own quilts to sewing on patches of old clothes onto an already existing blanket there are different choices for different levels of time, commitment, and skill with sewing. I have made quilts as Yule and birthday presents by reusing old clothes to cut squares from and they turn out lovely. I’ve also seen blankets made by sewing various pieces onto an existing blanket that look wonderful as well.



Both “traditional” style bags with pockets and zippers or button closures can be made using the fabric available from pants, skirts, dresses, and shirts. I’ve made a quilt style purse using different bits of dresses and skirts as well as using a sleeper to make a funky knapsack that my youngest son to keep some smallish items in for programs he’ll be attending like indoor shoes. There are several different designs you can find online at places like Pinterest for reusing old clothes to make a variety of different types of bags or purses.


Wall Art:

I love taking a dress, skirt, or shirt and using it in a photo frame purposely bought larger than the picture itself as a great contrast to the photo. I’ve also hot glued fabric around a square of cardboard (usually from a box that otherwise I would have just recycled such as a diaper box because they’re really thick and strong) and made it into a photo frame by gluing the picture in it and a ribbon on the back to hang it on a wall. It looks adorable. Solid color fabrics can be used to make banners with inspirational messages on them for any room of the house, or as a lovely gift! We have an old shirt that was a solid color turned into a banner with the quote “One step over is a whole new road” on it in our front room, it’s one of my favorite sayings coupled with one of my favorite ways of reusing old clothes.


Story Boards and Calendars:

The first thing I ever used some of my eldest son’s cast-offs as it were was for a special calendar I made him. He needed a set routine but he also needed reminders of what would be happening everyday it gave him security and peace of mind. I took some of his old clothes, cut a large rectangle, wrapped wooden dowels with the top of the fabric so it would hang straight on the wall and using a glue gun glued the wooden dowels in place and stapled some ribbon to it to hang it. With the glue gun, velcro, business laminate cards I found at the dollar store as well as pictures I printed off on my own computer,  made little squares to show him what he would be doing everyday he loved that calendar as it was completely customized to him his routine his activities and was made by reusing old clothes he was sad he had outgrown.

Storage Containers:

Like many others I have a ton of little this’s and that’s that tend to clutter up bathroom counters, and bedroom dresser tops. I take tins and jars once they’re empty (such as coffee or hot chocolate tins) my glue gun and some fabric and voila I have pretty containers for storage of the million and one hair clips that we managed to accumulate, among other things like pencils etc, it’s great for the kids as well because I’m reusing old clothes that they adored so in a way they get to have them all over again.

Gift bags:

It is super easy, and super cute to make gift bags out of a square or rectangle of a skirt or shirt that’s no longer of a wearable size. Simply cut 2 pieces the same size, place wrong side out and sew 3 of the sides together. Fold down just enough to thread some ribbon on a safety-pin through it and sew all the way around (leaving enough room to get the safety-pin in) Fold right side out and it’s done. I love using my son’s super hero themed clothing for a gift bag for him as he then keeps it as an easy visual identifier of where specific items are. (Such as him keeping a toy called Trashies in one so he knows where they all are when he wants to play with them)

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