HOW TO: Free Up Wardrobe Space And Repurpose Your Old And Damaged Clothes

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

If we were to categorize our closet items into current crush (KEEP), used to love (STORE) and we over it (TOSS), you will notice that majority belongs to the second category. Things we used to love and endlessly STORE are things that we either wore too much or loved the concept of but never got around to wearing!

So how to give your preloved clothes a new lease of life? Old clothing still has value and purpose and trashing them should be last resort. There are plenty of things you can do with items that you hoard even just beyond swapping them. Let’s look at the options.

A. Up-cycle

Up-cycling implies re-shaping, re-stitching, revamping the garment. There are a million ways to up-cycle depending on the clothes and your creativity. Scissoring your husband’s shirt to make dresses for your little daughter, converting an abandoned pair of jeans into a denim shorts are some simple examples. Refer YouTube for numerous other interesting DIY tutorials on up-cycling. Here’s shared some uber cool ways of up-cycling.

Source: Agy Textile Artist

Embroidery: Embroidery is the chicest way to uplift an old outfit’s image and add something new. If you are dexterous in the art then do a herringbone or chain stitch on one of sleeves of a shirt. Not only will it look great but it will also be so cool to wear a customized outfit that you embroidered yourself. For the others, you just have to find a tailor for assistance.

Trims: Trims like laces, ribbons, sequins, ready- made patches etc, are some creative ways to refresh an old outfit or a forgotten pair of shoes. For example, lengthen out an abandoned short dress from college times by adding laces and give it relevancy in your adult life. Or, hot glue satin ribbons on your old black pumps and re-ignite your interest in it.

Bleaching and Dyeing: Bleaching and dying are both excellent, easy ways to transform an old outfit into new clothes altogether. Take for example your 90s black mini skirt, a bleach pen and play with your creative instincts. Or, dye that stained white shirt in navy blue (or any colour you want) and you will have new wardrobe member. Tie dye is another fun and creative technique. Take your regular solid coloured outfit, tie thread at points you want, dip it in dye and bam! You have fashion’s latest craze in your closet.

Source: Agy Textile Artist

Printing: There are many printing options to choose from depending on your personal liking. Screen printing, stamping, dip printing, iron-on stickers etc. Best all can be done in the comfort of your home. Hapa Zome, a Japanese art of hammering leaves and pounding natural pigment into cloth, thereby creating natural imprints, is another very simple but unique technique. Look up Agy Textile Artist to know more about this printing form and ideas

B. Down-cycle

Down-cycling applies to items that cannot be repaired, re-styled, donated or swapped. Turn around these scraps into functional, fun items. Follow two great and simple ways to down-cycle.

Accessories: A clever way to reuse old clothes is converting its different components into accessories. The embellishment parts are best suited for the task. The metallic waistline or buttons can be easily transformed into hair bands or earrings. Learn more from our very own Gwen Stella, a DIY master guide to create unique pieces of accessories from unwanted clothes and fabrics.

Home utilities: Reuse worn down pieces to create useful products. For e.g. t-shirt totes, knitted rug carpets, pillow cases, home décor accents like pom-poms, plant holders or pet toys and comforters. Project Luni does recycling of scrappy fabrics into adorable cat toys (And we support that!)

Re-purposing thus is a great way out from hoarding and closet piles. Transforming these beloved clothes into new outfits or household utilities, will keep your interest flamed and also add to the material lifeline. Furthermore there is that sense of creating something new and on your own which will serve your higher needs of wellness, de-cluttering and functional utility.


Check out the clip of Gwen Stella working her magic to #refash old unused clothes into brand new outfits!


Hi I'm Menka! I am from India.

In my happy place, I am making ayurvedic concoctions for beauty and wellness. 

Notoriously, pinterest-ing fashion and decor. And, I love forests.

Let's connect on Instagram.

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