Old Shirts to New Dress: RePurposing Clothes

Repurposing clothes, sewing, waste-free living

Repurposing clothes with scraps and old shirts

I’ve been really getting into repurposing clothes of late. Never mind that I have piles and piles of fresh fabrics all waiting to be made into nifty new outfits. But the one problem with sewing is that it does create a fair amount of waste. I have tons of scraps that I’d like to do something with besides throwing them out.

Then there’s the problem of all the clothes that we wear out around here. You can’t give ragged shirts to Goodwill or others. They can’t sell them. And I’ve had a heck of a time trying to find out if they can send what rags they get to fabric recyclers.

But when I’ve messed up a project (a fairly frequent occurrence), what do I do with the fabric that should have been a shirt or a pair of pants?

The How I Did It of RePurposing Clothes

One option is to turn those fabric scraps and old shirts with ragged collars into a new garment. In this case, I experimented with a dress. I’d also gotten a quick lesson in draping a pattern, too, which gave me some confidence to give it a try.

repurposing clothes, waste-free living, sewing

Shirt pockets as dress pockets

I used for my base a shirt I’d made for my husband, or it would have been for my husband if I hadn’t made the neck way too big. I decided to leave the front and back intact for style reasons and to avoid having to sew in new buttons. The other fun thing I did was take an old shirt that already welt pockets and use that for my waist pockets. Because I’m  not going to make anything that doesn’t have pockets.

Doing it Again?

It took some math and I think next time I’m going to stitch any fabric I add to the sides of the shirt so that they cover the armhole first, then cut a new one. But here’s the finished version. It does look a bit busy, even for me, so I’ll probably wear it as a casual dress for at home. I did wear to a Repair Cafe event and that was fun. But I’ve already got one more project in the queue that will use a more traditional pattern, but more shirts. My husband does tend to wear them out. Oh, and here’s the finished product:

repurposing clothes, sewing, waste-free living

The finished dress

Anne Louise Bannon

Please talk to me. I'd love to hear from you.

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