Like they say, one (wo)man’s trash can be another’s treasure. Inspired by the upcycling movement, I wanted to share how you can turn a tank top into a tote, repurpose your pockets, and find new uses for old knits. In addition, I’m excited to highlight how a viewer like you is rethinking, reusing, and reinventing what could be considered trash, and creating fashion. So next time you are cleaning out your closet, pause before you pitch, and try breathing new life into your torn and worn items.
Reuse: Turn your tank into a tote
Even if they’re too small, too baggy, faded, or just aren’t right anymore, don’t toss your old tank tops! Since they were already designed with your arm in mind, tanks transition easily into handy-dandy sacks and are perfect for the beach or picking up groceries. Here’s what you’ll need: Tank top, scissors, needle and thread.
Turn your tank inside out. Lay flat so the straps are on top of one another.
Measure and mark where you want the seam to be and baste-stitch it across with a needle and thread. Cut the excess fabric. (In a pinch, you can grab the fabric with a rubber band to secure.)
Turn tank right-side out.
Decorate if desired. You can slip some beads onto extra-large safety pins and attach as an accent, or tie/braid ribbons around the straps, which are now handles.
To make a more rigid handle, cut an old belt, stiff cardboard or similar material to desired length.
Use excess fabric that was cut from the hem and snip into long strips.
Place the sturdy piece underneath the straps, and secure by tightly wrapping fabric.
Rethink: Repurpose your pockets
Denim trends come and go, but it can be hard to part with a beloved pair of jeans (no matter how high-waisted, tapered or acid-washed).
A sturdy and practical fabric, there are countless ways to reuse old styles you don’t plan to wear again. One of my favorites is by reworking the pockets to create designer accents. Here’s what you'll need: Denim pockets from old jeans, scissors, needle and thread or hem tape.
Remove pocket(s) from an old pair of denims or jean jacket.
To add a handle, take a long strip of denim, fold in half, and stitch onto upper edge of pocket.
For a pocket on a throw pillow that could hold a remote control or cordless phone, attach jean pocket with a needle and thread or use hem tape.
Reinvent: New uses for old knits
Every winter, it pains me to pack away all of my soft, cozy sweaters, hats and scarves, not to see them again for months. With that in mind, I was inspired by Rodarte’s aesthetic to rework my knits and construct some chic DIY jewelry pieces that can be worn year round. What you'll need: An old sweater, scarf or hat, scissors, and any desired decorative accents (e.g., chains, buttons, charms, scraps, fabric or ribbons), needle and thread.
Remove the neckline of an old sweater at desired width, or use a scrap to manipulate your own shape.
Cut, tear and shred areas of the fabric to create visual interest and texture.
Attach embellishments such as buttons and charms with a needle and thread, and/or weave ribbons, chains or long scraps of fabric through the knit for a one-of-a-kind necklace.
Experiment, because anything goes!
Viewer idea: Fancy flowers
I was excited about this TODAY viewer submission sent in by Jennifer Ragan from Boston, Mass. There are certain articles of clothing that we assign emotional value (e.g., your senior prom dress or the bridesmaid gown you wore in your sister’s wedding). And while you may never have a reason to wear them again, you don’t want to give them up. Which is why I had to highlight Jennifer’s clever way of turning these old dresses into keepsake jewelry and hair accessories (JLRY Designs; $9.50-$40).
What you'll need: Satin, tulle, organza or any polyester fabric, scissors, a candle or matches, beads, glue gun/sticks, and hair accessories you plan to use as the base.
Cut fabric into circles of various sizes.
Using a candlestick, carefully singe the edges of fabric, barely touching to the flame.
Once slightly cooled, use your fingers to mold and shape the edges.
Layer pieces on top of one another.
When you like the look of your flowers, use a needle and thread to secure the layers together with beads.
Hot-glue or sew flowers onto hair accessories, such as bobby pins, headbands or brooch pin backs.