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Recycle Your Clothes and Stretch Your Budget

BY: Judith Rasband • Aug 28, 2019

Fast-changing fashion trends, weight gain or loss and durable fabrics that never wear out leave us with clothes in our closets that are not worn out, but not being worn.  How does that make you feel?  Guilty? Like you’re loosing money? Maybe recycling those old clothes is a solution you should consider.

Recycling clothes means to renew or reuse old clothing to lengthen its wear-life and get the most value from your initial money investment.  With the increasing cost of new clothing and the general economic situation, this might be important for you and your family, to relieve the guilt or stretch the family budget.  It might also provide you with a satisfying creative outlet.

Any item of clothing which has not been worn in the last year may be a candidate for recycling. Ask yourself why the item has not been worn.  Does the item need mending? Des it have faded or worn areas?  Is it out of fashion or have you simply grown tired of it?  Isn’t it appropriate for your activities or lifestyle?  Doesn’t it fit? Doesn’t it coordinate with any other clothing you own?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, the item may be a candidate for recycling, with a great deal of wear left that someone else could use.  How you will recycle that clothing depends on you, your abilities and your family’s needs.  You can choose from the three methods of recycling.  They include altering, restyling and using the fabric to make another entirely new garment.

Altering can improve an item’s fit and general appearance.  For example, skirts, slacks and sleeves can be shortened or sometimes lengthened.  These are relatively simple procedures.  Neckline alterations are more complicated and demand greater skill.  Consider the services of a professional seamstress or tailor.

Restyling involves changing only part of the garment, changing the way it looks.  This method can be used to update a garment, add new appeal, remove or replace worn areas so the garment can continue to be serviceable.  For example, you might shorten a coat into a jacket or recut and finish the armholes of a dress to make it into a jumper.  You might add a collar, pockets or new trim.

Using the fabric of an old garment to make an entirely new piece of clothing constitutes a “makeover.” Generally, a smaller garment is cut form the original.  For example, a skit might be made from a pair of pants.  A woman’s dress might be used to make a child’s dress or pants.  The original garment must be cleaned, taken apart at the seams, pressed flat, recut with a pattern, then constructed.

Before you begin, ask yourself:

  • Is the fabric of the old garment still sturdy enough to be recycled?
  • Will the recycled garment be worn enough to justify my time?
  • Will my time be better spent on recycling or in another activity?
  • DO I have the knowledge and skill to produce a garment that looks well done instead of redone?
  • Do I enjoy the job of recycling enough to keep a positive attitude throughout the project?
  • Will the wearer appreciate and enjoy wearing the recycled garment?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then you are ready to begin.

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