So you’ve cleaned your closet, scoured your drawers, and now you’re stuck with a pile of clothing that is beyond repair? With some scissors and other household items, you can repurpose and upcycle old clothes to make these six home decor projects! Give them as gifts or keep them for yourself, but most importantly, extend the lives of your worn clothes by giving them a new use!


Denim Yarn

Supplies required: Jeans (or any kind of denim apparel), scissors

This is a pre-project upcycle. It is the PERFECT way to repurpose jeans that have ripped in the crotch (we’ve all got them!). And depending on where your rip is placed, you might also end up with a cute pair of cutoff shorts! Once you’ve made the denim yarn, you can use it for a multitude of projects (think plant hangers, crocheting, etc.). I’ve included two in this post.

upcycle old clothes

1) Take your jeans and turn them over so the backside is facing up. Cut the leg under the pocket, or if your jeans are ripped, below the rip.

2) With the legs laying flat, cut off the hem. Then, with the legs still flat, cut from one side to the other, leaving about an inch (two fingers) uncut. Continue all the way up the leg, making your strips as wide as you’d like for your project. I suggest about a finger’s width.

3) Once your whole leg has been cut, turn your focus to the strip that is still intact. You’re going to make a series of diagonal cuts that will create one long strip of “yarn.”

4) Done! Now you can use this yarn for more projects.

upcycle old clothes

Wall Hanging

Supplies required: Denim yarn, scissors, branch/dowel

I was pleasantly surprised with how well this project turned out. I used denim yarn from two jeans with different washes to create a contrast. (And it’s possible to use more!). I started with a small hanging, but it came out so well that I found a much larger branch that I think I’ll use for thicker denim yarn to make a scaled up version in the future.

1) Decide what shape your hanging will be. Measure out strips of yarn, as long as you’d like them to be, staying cognizant of the fact that you’ll be folding them in half to attach them to your branch.

2) Cut your yarn. I cut two of each length, shortening each set of two slightly as I went so that my hanging would form a “V”. I found it helpful to lay my strips out in the shape I was going for in order to keep track of what length cut I was on.

upcycle old clothes

3) Start placing your strips on your branch! I started in the middle and simply folded, placed the loop over my branch, and then pulled the yarn through itself to attach the strips. Repeat for all strips, adjusting them as needed until you’re happy with the result!

upcycle old clothes

4) Use twine, ribbon, or another piece of denim yarn to create a hanger by tying it to each side of the branch.

5) If you want to take this project up a notch, you can crochet the denim, put in some macrame knots, or even dip-dye it!

upcycle old clothes

Fabric Wrapped No-Slip Hangers

Supplies required: Hangers, fabric strips (like the denim yarn!), glue (I used a glue stick)

Ugly hangers? Not anymore! This is such a fast project that is easy to alter to fit your style. You can use any fabric (thin scraps work well), or you can cut yarn again. I used the denim yarn I had left over from the wall hanging project. These hangers will step up your closet and are no-slip!

upcycle old clothes

1) Glueing an inch or two at a time, start wrapping your fabric strips around the hanger.

2) Continue glueing and wrapping until you’ve covered as much of the hanger as you wish. This could be just where straps fall, the whole of the hanger, or everything except the part that goes over a rail — it’s really up to you!

upcycle old clothes

Fabric Covered Picture Frame

Supplies required: Flat picture frame (with removable glass/no glass), glue, scissors

Fabric covered picture frames make such good gifts. I’ve made them with fabric I’ve bought while traveling (in pre-Covid times) and given them to friends, mentors, and family member, with photos in the frame.

upcycle old clothes

1) Remove glass from the picture frame and iron/straighten out fabric of choice. No wrinkles here!

2) Glue the front of the picture frame and place it face down on the fabric.

3) Cut fabric around the picture frame, leaving enough of a border for the fabric to wrap to the back of the frame

4) Glue the edges and back of your picture frame and pull the fabric taut as you attach it.

5) The front of your frame should now be looking pretty good with only with one issue — where the picture goes is covered! Using scissors or an X-acto knife, cut into the middle of the fabric. Each side should have a trapezoid of fabric (see images). Trim them so you have enough to wrap up but not too much extra.

6) Glue the inside border and pull the fabric up. Continuing glueing and placing the fabric. Be mindful that too much extra fabric may keep the glass from laying correctly.

7) Once the glue is dry, replace the glass and put in your picture…done!

upcycle old clothes

upcycle old clothes

Graphic Tee Wall Canvas

Supplies required: Heavy duty stapler, canvas print, graphic tee

For this project, I had a t-shirt I had screen printed myself but then cut and disliked how the cut came out. It’d been sitting balled up in my closet for two years. During a quick trip to my local thrift store, I picked up a canvas print from IKEA that would fit the full quote on my shirt. Make sure whatever canvas you plan to cover is accurately sized to your graphic.

upcycle old clothes

1) Cut out enough fabric from your tee to cover the canvas and wrap around the back. You’d rather have a little extra than too little! Lay it down flat, front side facing the table.

2) Place your canvas backside up, centered over the design you’re looking to feature.

3) Once you’re happy with the alignment, pull up the edge and secure the fabric with some staples! Rotate around and play with trimming the edges as you need to, folding the corners in nicely. Keep an eye on how the front of the canvas is looking so the graphic doesn’t become too wonky or stretched out!

upcycle old clothes

Memory Board

Supplies required: Fabric (I used the front of the shirt I had cut for the fabric picture frame), foam core/cardboard/repurposed yard sign, etc., ribbon, buttons, stapler (that opens flat), hot glue gun. Optional: fabric batting, tape, something to cover the back to make it prettier

My mom used to make memory boards for my friends’ birthdays as gifts growing up, so this wasn’t my first rodeo, but boy was I out of practice! I strove not to purchase anything for this project, so it wasn’t as spectacular as my mom’s super clean and matching boards she’d make. That said, it didn’t come out terribly, and I’m sure yours will come out as good, if not better, than mine!

upcycle old clothes

1) Decide on what fabric you’re going to use and the size of your board. I liked that the shirt from earlier had a front pocket and thought that would be cool on the board. If you’re using cardboard, like me, reinforce it if you feel you need to with some tape. I taped along the creases to discourage the board from folding.

2) Lay out your board on the fabric, making sure you have enough fabric to pull around to the back. Cut out your fabric if you still have excess. Optional: If you’re using fabric batting, do the same. Do the next step with your fabric batting first before repeating with your regular fabric.

3) Staple your fabric taut around your board, like what we did for the graphic tee on the canvas frame. I did not have a stapler for this step, so I hot glued. Stapler is superior.

4) Once you’re happy with how your fabric is attached, let’s move on to the ribbon. Lay out and cut your ribbon to size, leaving a couple inches on each side to wrap to the back. I left a couple ribbon lines off because I wanted the pocket on the shirt to be accessible.

5) Staple (or hot glue) your ribbon in place at the cross-sections. These cross-sections should be attached to the fabric base and to each other.

6) Use a hot glue gun to glue on buttons or other doodads at the cross-sections to make them pretty.

7) Flip your board to view the back. Hopefully yours is a bit prettier than mine (had a little hot glue gun mishap…). Staple the ribbon edges in place to secure them. Staple a ribbon hanger to the top if you want your memory board to hang on the wall.

8) The back of my board was not very pretty by the time I got here. My mom used to take another panel of whatever fabric you used on the front and place it on the back to cover up all the ribbon edges and staples and such. I didn’t have enough fabric left to do that right, so I cut two very thin cardboard pieces (they were like a thick paper) and stapled them to the back to give it a uniform look. I think it came together well!

upcycle old clothes

Want to get involved? Join this year’s #noNewClothes Campaign and take the pledge to live more sustainably!

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