If there’s one thing my mum has taught me, its that most things we use can be reused, recycled or upcycled.
This stands especially true of clothes.
Intact clothes are usually passed on to those who would appreciate them. But then some clothes get torn, fade in colour or lose the quality of their stitches.
The simple cotton T-shirt you bought a few months ago can turn into so much more after it fades. Don’t believe me? Why not check out our shop to see how versatile an upcycled cloth can be!
What do we do with such items?
Well, using them as rags or throwing them away are two options. But there’s always more to clothes than what meets the eye.
Your favourite T-shirt, sarees and denim need not see the door even beyond their shelf-life. They can stay with you – albeit with a different face. Here’s how:
Winter is coming, and it will demand that we snuggle up in a cosy blanket every night. While the market is filled with blankets made of synthetic material, here’s an alternative to those expensive choices.
The process is straightforward. I have been following my mother’s projects for years now and can guide you.
First, take a heap of clothes (preferably all cotton) and arrange them to the dimensions you desire. If you want a thicker blanket, add more layers.
Once satisfied with the length, breadth and thickness, strip all the buttons, hooks and everything non-fabric from the clothes. Take a thick thread and a needle and start stitching the clothes together. This step is particularly tricky because each cloth might be of different thickness, and they are not always of uniform shape. But once you start stitching, you will soon get the hang of it.
Soon, you will be done. Cut the edges and sew them shut for a warm night!
Pro-tip: If you like your bed linen to be monochromatic or of one design instead of a collage, find a saree to envelope the mozaic.
Waxing at home is a great beauty regime if 1. You don’t want to spend hundreds of rupees for a single session and 2. You can deal with the mess.
I recently discovered that denim makes great reusable waxing strips. All you have to do is cut out rectangles from faded/ torn denim bottoms or jackets and wash it once.
Then, for your next waxing session, place the insides of the denim on the wax you have applied on unwanted hair, press it firmly and pull it in one single go! (Ouch!)
In my personal experience, denim strips hurt less than the disposable ones. But you try it for yourself.
To wash the denim strips, soak them for a couple of hours in warm water. The wax will come off, and then, a single stroke with a brush will clean the fabric easily!
This idea is especially awesome because it can upcycle everything from a plain T-shirt to sarees! There are several DIY tutorials available online that use various tactics to make beautiful bags from discarded clothes. Here’s one no-sew technique.
But you can get more complex with your bags too and stitch them to have several compartments.
We have several such bags made from upcycled denim on our shop. From sling bags to messenger bags complete with compartments as also backpacks, we have them all! Here’s where you can find them.
New clothes from old clothes:
Well, you can turn into a fashion stylist by simply matching various old/ torn/ faded clothes into whole new apparel.
Mix and match the fabric and designs to see what you like.
For example, if you are discarding an old white shirt and have to throw away a pink shirt that has a hole on one side, just cut them in a way that they can be stitched into one shirt. (Visual clue- Charlie Harper’s shirts in Two and a Half Men).
But why restrict yourself to shirts? Stitch together different patches from old clothes to make a skirt, a table runner, dupattas or carpets.
Go crazy with your creativity here and share your ideas with us!
Brighten up old white clothes:
Bring water to boil in a big utensil and add about 1/4th cup of turmeric to it (increase or decrease the quantity according to the colour you desire).
Put the white cloth in it and let it boil for about 30 minutes before taking it out carefully and sun-drying it. There you go, you now have a yellow T-shirt/dupatta/salwar in place of a white one.
You can also experiment with green tea bags, beetroot etc. to explore the spectrum of colours.
(Psst… Learn how to make Bandhani designs, and then you can go pro with the recolouring of fabric!)
Pillows and cushions:
Most of your clothes can go into making cushions and pillows for decoration and comfort! Here’s how.
Snip, stick, stitch and save!
Between the ages of 12-18, my jeans started getting too short every six months. Instead of going shopping all the time, my mum cut them. Once the denim started getting too short as full pants, they became stylish 3-4ths.
When I got bored with them, they became shorts. The cut pieces would become ‘matching’ sling bags or coin purses for me. Try doing this even if your denim is torn at calf/thigh length and ripped jeans are not your thing.
The cotton clothes that you are throwing away can also be stitched into reusable cloth pads and can help a needy woman have a comfortable menstrual cycle.
Do let share your experiments with us on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag us!
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)