The new school year brings a lot of new stuff: New clothes, new notebooks, and pencils, new teachers… The list goes on and on. Getting a fresh start with new gear is great, but there is one problem — figuring out what to do with all that old stuff. Our homes are packed to overflowing with old t-shirts, outgrown jeans and shoes that are so raggedy they barely qualify as “shoes” anymore. What are parents supposed to do with all that?
Sure, you could throw it in the trash, but that certainly isn’t the most environmentally friendly option. Your kids can wear their old clothes when playing outside, but how many play outfits do they really need? And those nasty old shoes would work well for playing in the creek, but thanks to iPads and PlayStations, how often does that happen anymore?
Whether you have one kid or an entire house full of them, there are several ways to reuse old clothes. If you get creative, there are even ways to recycle them for the new school year. Need some inspiration? Keep reading!
Make a T-Shirt Tote
Does your daughter have old blank t shirts that she loves but is too small to wear? Or maybe it has a few holes or stains? Turn it into a tote. Making a tote bag from an old tee is easy, and it’s a great way to reuse something that may have otherwise been bound for the trash can. The best part? You don’t even have to know how to sew.
To get started, cut the sleeves off. After cutting off the first, use it as a guide for the next one. Cut off the collar as well. Turn the shirt inside out, and determine how long you would like the tote to be. Remember that t-shirts are stretchy, so when your tote is full, it will become longer. Draw a line across where you want the bottom to be.
Cut slits from the bottom of the shirt up to the line you drew. Cut the front and back layers. together to ensure that they match up correctly. Once you’ve finished, tie each pair of front and back fringe together. When you’re done tying, turn the shirt right side out, and you have a funky new tote that’s perfect for back to school.
Refashion Old Clothes Into New Ones
There are a lot of ways to turn old clothes into new ones if you are handy with a sewing machine. Transform an old pair of holey jeans into a cute skirt, or make a cozy cardigan out of an old sweater. Is your child getting taller but still wearing the same waist size? Turn the pants that have gotten too short into a pair of comfy capris that will be perfect for the beginning of the school year.
You can also breathe new life into old, worn-out clothes by getting creative with your repairs. For jeans that have become too holey to wear, try patching the holes using a fun fabric or lace. If you know how to embroider, you can also create fun embroidered designs to fix up holes and create a fun fashion statement.
Salvage for Parts
When you have clothes that won’t work particularly well to repurpose, you may still be able to salvage parts to use in future projects. Remove buttons from pants and shirts. Zippers are good to keep, too. The sleeves from a long-sleeved shirt can be turned into arm warmers, and leg warmers can easily be made from leggings. Have a sweater that’s made from nice yarn? Carefully unravel the sweater, and you’ll have plenty of yarn for your next knitting or crocheting project.
Give Plain Shirts a Second Life
If your kids have plain t-shirts or hoodies that are still in good condition but in need of an upgrade, you can customize them. Plan a tie-dye party to make those white t-shirts fashionably colorful, or use iron-on decals to turn a plain shirt into a fun novelty tee. If you have a vinyl cutter (or know someone who does), your creativity is the only limit. Etsy is also a great place to look for vinyl decals that can be applied to shirts, and many sellers take custom orders.
Earn a Few Bucks for This Year’s Shopping Trip
Turn your child’s old clothing into money for new duds. If you your child has clothing that is still in good condition and in style, take it to a store like Once Upon a Child or Kid-to-Kid. If you have a teen, try Plato’s Closet. These resale shops pay cash for nice, gently used clothing, and their rates are quite reasonable.
Selling old clothing rather than allowing it to gather dust in the back of the closet helps supplement your budget for new clothes. Since these stores only accept things that are stylish and in great shape, they’re also a great place to shop. Browse the racks while they go through the items you are selling, and you’re likely to score some great deals on your kids’ favorite styles and brands.
Giving Your Child’s Old Clothes a New Life for the New School Year
Whether you are trying to save a few dollars, reduce your impact on the environment. You can also curb consumerism by giving your child’s old clothing a new life, as well as meet your goals. It takes a bit of time and creativity, but just about anyone can find ways to recycle old clothing and make it functional for the new school year.
If none of the ideas above appeal to you, consider donating your child’s old clothing to charity or even to their school rather than throwing them away. Even if you can’t find a use for your child’s old clothes, there is someone out there who will be grateful for the opportunity to use them for their own children.
Author Bio: Jordan Smith is a full-time stay-at-home mother of 2 daughters and a new dog, Luna! She loves spending time with her family and coming up with creative new crafts for every occasion. As blogging is her second passion, she is a regular contributor to The Talkn’ T-Shirts Blog. She also enjoys strolling the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.