18 Ways To Save A Bundle By Repurposing Your Wardrobe

18 ways to repurpose your wardrobe and save on shopping

When clothing shrinks, gets stained, or no longer fits…

Your first impulse might be to toss it into a donation bin.

But think again!

Canadian Smart Savers know how to take those pieces and turn them into something new. Whether it’s a refreshed outfit, a tote bag, or something beautiful for their home.

Here are some creative ways to turn old clothing into something NEW.

Give Clothes A New Life

Usually it’s just part of an item that no longer works, whether it’s stained, or too short, or has a tiny hole. But what about the rest of it?

Either you get snippy ... or you stitch it.

Get Snippy

You might be surprised what a simple pair of scissors can accomplish!

No sewing skills are required for these clothing hacks.

1. Cut a shirt into a breezy work-out top or strappy tank for the beach. It’s just as easy to make a fringed vest, too.

2. Kids are constantly outgrowing leggings and PJ pants, or wrecking them with huge holes in the knees. Just cut them into shorts (no hem required) and they’ll get even more use out of them. (You can also cut long-sleeved shirts into short-sleeved tees.)

3. With a few snips and knots, you can turn an adult-sized tee into a fun nightgown for a little girl. (This also works well with old pillowcases.)

4. Ladies can easily transform a men’s T-shirt into an intricate top by cutting slits and knotting them in just the right way, or making an off-the-shoulder top.

5. Repurpose ripped or too-short jeans by cutting them into shorts. You can bleach them to give them a totally new look or even try a polkadot effect with fabric paint.

Related: Experiments in Stain Removal and Other Laundry Adventures

Stitch It

If you’re handy with a sewing machine -- or even just a needle and thread -- there are PLENTY of ways you can repurpose a wardrobe.

6. Babies outgrow the length of their onesies quickly, but the tops still fit comfortably. Cut off the bottom half, gather a rectangle of fabric and stitch it on to make a comfy dress. (You can use this method to turn an older girl’s too-short tops into peplum tops.)

7. Circle skirts are easy to sew, but sometimes require NO sewing at all. Start with a metre of stretchy fabric (or an adult-sized tee if you’re making one for a child), fold it into fourths, and cut off a corner to make the waist.

8. If your child’s outgrowing their pants too quickly, make them longer by sewing on new longer cuffs or even ruffles.

9. Mens’ dress shirts can be expensive, but you can give them a second life by turning them into simple button-up dresses for little girls.

10. Old sweaters make warm winter hats (with ready-made bands) as well as mittens.

11. An oversized T-shirt can be turned into a chic strapless dress or a midriff-baring dress -- both perfect for a summer day.

12. With a small amount of sewing, you can transform an old sweater into a cozy cardigan. It’s the perfect fix for a sweater that has a small stain right on the front.

Related: Clever Ways To Avoid Out Of Stock Sale Items

Turn Your Clothes Into Something New

A T-shirt doesn’t have to stay a T-shirt forever. Use your imagination and turn old clothing into something totally different.

Bags and totes

13. With a few snips of the scissors, you can transform a T-shirt into a funky lightweight bag for packing produce at the grocery store.

14. Turn an old pair of jeans into a purse that looks like it’s store-bought!

Home decor

15. Take a shirt (or a sweater) you can’t bear to let go -- like a concert tee or just an old favourite -- and turn it into a throw pillow for a bed or sofa. There are even no-sew tutorials!


16. Saving a bin of your child’s special outfits? Why not get them out of the closet and turn them into a meaningful memento quilt they can enjoy every night?

17. With a stack of colourful T-shirts, you can braid a cool rug that’s super-soft underfoot.

18. Old jeans make a heavy, durable quilt that’s perfect for snuggling.

Related: Repair Broken Electronics to Save Money and Reduce Waste

Frugal Fashion Trend

By taking what you have and finding a new way to enjoy it, you’re expanding your wardrobe. Or beautifying your home…

Without spending a dime.

Now that’s a fashion trend I can get behind.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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Mary-Lynn Bastian
Mary-Lynn Bastian's picture

Hi Stephen,
Good tips but I would be surprised if any millennials would even pick up some scissors. I ran a health care facility for many years and supplied free uniforms for all the staff. The tailoring was up to them. I tried and tried to teach them to shorten pants or just put back a button, but to no avail. The didn't even want to know and went to the dry cleaners to have them hemmed at a cost of around $25/pant. I supplied 5 uniforms so you do the math. My tip to them: learn how to sew the basics it will save you a bundle in the end.

March 23, 2017 @ 9:24 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

We thought this article from Heather would provide some fresh perspective because this isn't the kind of thing that is normally up my avenue either. For the right kind of person though, it makes a great money-saving hobby. As the article shows, it isn't all that difficult to get started either.

March 24, 2017 @ 2:08 pm
Mark's picture

Hey now! This here millenial not only has scissors but also a sewing machine. (To be fair, I'm nearly the oldest one can be and still be called a millenial.)

April 05, 2017 @ 4:19 am
Ken's picture

Im all for re-purposing, Im also into getting rid of stuff to. And to me re-purposing is another project to do on the endless to do list anyway.

Cant keep everything, because if you do, either when you die someone will get rid of it anyway, or you will just have clutter in your life.

Kids clothes go to donation as soon as they are out grown them and cant be handed down to a sibling, let someone else get use out of them.

March 23, 2017 @ 11:49 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Totally Ken - we went through a major decluttering on our last move and are actively trying to keep the clutter to a minimum. We are hardly minimalist, but more stuff just means more time wasted. We generally donate our old clothes as well but will occasionally repurpose them somehow.

March 24, 2017 @ 2:07 pm
Colleen's picture

Great tips! I already make the kids pants into shorts. I use stained, worn clothes for rags and I've repurposed sweaters into cardigans.
Thanks for taking the time to share your financial insights with us.

March 23, 2017 @ 3:30 pm
Jfw's picture

Really! Did you need to explain what to do with old clothes and how to repurpose.
Just give them to a charity!
I found these ideas over the top and insulting

March 23, 2017 @ 7:52 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I'm not about to bust out my sewing machine either Jfw, but I don't quite see how these ideas are insulting. It is a legitimate way to save money for those who are crafty or who might be interested in exploring the idea. Many of the ideas require minimum sewing skills, which make it easier for the everyday person to give it a shot.

To each their own, right?

March 24, 2017 @ 2:05 pm
Christine Weadick
Christine Weadick's picture

When my kids were much younger we had quite the hand me down train going with the cousins and a few things from my older boy actually came back for his younger brother. Between my sisters-in-law and I we had 7 kids over as many years. I also sewed a lot of their clothes.
These days I make a few bucks here and there doing alterations, one fellow hubby used to work with buys his jeans for work at the local thrift store and brings them to me to shorten....$5.00 a pair. I also replace zippers in things like coats (why do they put such crappy zippers in kids coats???), you buy the zipper and I do the work. So if someone doesn't want to or just can't do the work, I can do it for them.
Right now I am cleaning out my parents house and if the t-shirts will fit my boys I bring them home and a lot of my Mom's tops still have life in them and will fit me. As long as I don't wear them in front of my Dad while visiting him at the long term care home...it's good. He has dementia so I don't want him confused and thinking I'm my late Mom.
Some of these ideas do look interesting and I just might try a few!!

March 26, 2017 @ 8:17 pm
Adriana @MoneyJourney's picture

Lately, I began watching video tutorials on how to transform clothes (and towels and old sheets) into something else. I'm not very handy when it comes to hacks like these, but some of these videos seem easy enough to follow.

My grandma actually used to modify our clothing on a regular basis. She taught me how to use the sewing machine, so if I still remember how one works (it's been years since I last used a sewing machine!) I'm up for the challenge!

We still donate most of the clothes that are still in good condition though. I just hope the items we donate end up to the less fortunate and not sold for profit in a far away city (it's been known to happen..).

March 30, 2017 @ 5:56 am

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