Five Ideas for Taking Advantage of Old Clothes

Thrift shops and flea markets are treasure troves of old clothes that are usually very inexpensively priced. Shirts, pants, sweaters and dresses, purchased for a few dollars, will provide inspiration for a number of projects. Some sewing skill is required for each of these five ideas.

old cloths

Button It Up – Older garments often have beautiful buttons, trims and lace that are in good condition even if the rest of the garment is not. Carefully remove these with a seam ripper and reuse to give new clothes a vintage look and feel. Or new buttons and trim can spruce up an old blouse or dress. Be sure to choose buttons that fit the existing button holes. Most buttons come in several sizes so this should be easy.

Alter a Blouse’s Neckline – Create a new neckline on a blouse. Remove the existing collar carefully. A v-shape or scoop neck will be easy to do if you stack the two front pieces, right sides together, and cut at the same time. Use matching bias tape to finish the cut edges.

Craft a Vest – A closely-fitting men’s shirt can be turned into a tailored vest, good for an otherwise nice shirt with underarm stains. Remove the collar and the sleeves, cutting away any stained fabric. Finish the armhole edges with bias tape. Cut a v-shaped neckline as described above and finish the edges with bias tape. If desired, fabric from the sleeves can be used to make pockets or an adjustable half-belt.

Make a Skirt – Vintage men’s ties are available for practically nothing in numerous colors and patterns. Cut the ties slightly longer than the desired length of the finished skirt. The wider end of the tie will be the skirt hem. With right sides together, stitch the ties with a one-quarter-inch seam. Estimate the number of ties you will need and then add or remove for correct fit. Create a waistband from additional material and interfacing and remember to include snaps, hooks and eyes or a button closing.

Wrap Up for Winter – A man’s sweater can be turned into mittens and a stocking cap. Use the ribbing at the bottom and the sleeve ends for the bottom edges of the mittens and cap. Gather and stitch up the top of the cap. Cut mitten shapes from the sleeves and stitch the two sides together.

Take a second look at the clothing department in your favorite second-hand store. Updating vintage fashions guarantees that your clothes will be as unique and distinctive as you are.

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