25 Ways to Upcycle By Sewing Old Stuff Into New!

Don’t you detest throwing things away when they might still be useful? Making new things out of old saves money, is good for the environment, and helps us preserve precious memories. Here are 20 fun and easy ideas for upcycled sewing projects you might not have thought of!


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Don’t toss that too-small sweater! Make yourself some cute slippers. Learn how with this free tutorial.

Jean Quilts

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One of the most popular materials for upcycling projects is fabric from used jeans! To lots of people, jeans only look better with age and wear. But what can be made from the fabric of jeans that no longer fit or have gone out of style?

How about a quilt? Denim quilts are warm and durable. They are also beautiful and easy to sew. To eliminate frustration, remember to use a denim needle. Denim needles are stronger and sharper than the average sewing machine needle.

Shirt Cuff Button Pouches

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Look at the cute button pouches you can make from shirt cuffs! This is a great tutorial for teaching kids to sew. They’ll have an adorable pouch when they’re done, and no one has to sew a buttonhole or attach a button!

Cute Tote with a Jean Pocket

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We all love the pockets on our favorite old jeans! The pocket can be removed with scissors or a seam ripper and sewn to a different item, like a bag. This project works with inexpensive new canvas bags or a bag that you make yourself from a simple bag tutorial.

Glitter Pencil Pouch

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Use leftover vinyl from a package of bed sheets to make this sparkly glitter vinyl pouch! All you need is the upcycled vinyl, a zipper, and your favorite glitter!

Nostalgic Quilts and Soft Toys from Baby Clothes

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Precious baby clothes that were outgrown too fast have so many uses! Cut hearts out to make an applique baby quilt. You can also use hearts or other shapes to make soft plush toys.

Baby Burp Cloths from Vintage Handkerchiefs

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This upcycling project would make a charming gift for a new mother. The burp cloths would be even more special if the vintage handkerchiefs belonged to the baby’s grandma or great-grandmother.

Sweet Smelling Sachets from Fabric and Potpourri

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Cut small, pretty pieces of fabric in simple shapes like circles and hearts. These can make sachets filled with fragrant potpourri.

T-shirt Tote

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Did you know you can make a bag from a t-shirt with very little sewing? Learn how to make a 5-minute shopping tote or book bag in this tutorial.

Washcloths from Gently Used Towels

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If an unwanted towel still has good fabric in it, cut that fabric into squares, sew a cute piece of fabric to the other side, and you have darling washcloths in any size you want to make! This tutorial shows how.

DIY Reusable Makeup Wipes

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Say goodbye to single-use makeup wipes! Use the same tutorial for upcycled washcloths, but cut smaller 4-5” squares to make reusable makeup cloths.

Tee Shirt into a Dress

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Any tee shirt can turn into a cute dress with a little bit of elastic for the waist and another shirt, skirt, or some fabric for the bottom of the dress. Get inspiration from this free tutorial.

Sweater Mittens

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There are so many uses for used sweaters! One of my favorites is mittens. Throw a sweater with wool fibers into the washer and dryer, and it will become felted. Felted fabric makes warm and water-resistant mittens. Here’s a free pattern for darling kids’ mittens.

Felted Wool Hat

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Let’s not forget that you can create other items from wool sweaters that you intentionally (or unintentionally) felted. This includes hats, bowls, and small toys.

Candy Zipper Pouches

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Zipper pouches made from candy packages were popular before and are now in style again! Some preparation is necessary to make the candy package suitable for sewing, but after that it can make a sturdy pouch or small bag.

Rope Covered Bin

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Turn an unwanted bin into a decorative basket with some inexpensive rope. I love how this tutorial helps you turn something unwanted into something usable and pretty!

Patchwork Quilt from Clothing Pieces

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Sometimes called a memory quilt, a simple patchwork quilt made from meaningful clothing items is a treasure. Here’s an easy patchwork quilt tutorial to get you started.

Tee Shirt Baby Blanket

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Wrap your baby in a warm, snuggly blanket sewn from tee shirts with special meaning. This is a fun way to turn your baby into a sports fan early on! Here’s a tutorial.

Bean Bags or Boo Boo Bags

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When we were kids, our moms made bean bags. Old fashioned bean bags are still in style, they are just called by other names now. A small one is a juggling bag. Fill them with rice, keep them in the freezer, and itโ€™s a boo-boo bag. Warm it up for a therapeutic heating bag. Fill them with a coarser material, like grain, to play cornhole.

Rag Rug

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Making a braided rag rug requires many fabric strips. It’s easy to cut or tear these strips from new or old fabric. Sources of fabric that can be torn into long strips include larger pieces of clothing, sheets, or curtains that are no longer usable.

Rope Bowl

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A beautiful rope bowl requires shorter strips of fabric that can be cut from sentimental clothing pieces or other items we don’t want to throw away. The only other material required is an inexpensive clothesline rope.

Necktie Zipper Pouch

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It can be tricky thinking of gifts to sew for a man, but how about a zipper pouch sewn from a beloved tie? Make treasured gifts from grandpa’s old ties.

Sweater pillow

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Pillows sewn from a button-down cardigan are not only stylish but super easy to sew!

  • Button up the cardigan and turn it inside out.
  • Mark a square on the cardigan the same size as a pillow form.
  • Pin and then sew along the marked lines.
  • Cut away the extra fabric outside of the sewn lines.
  • Finally, open up the buttons to insert your pillow form!

Vintage Lace Scarves

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Vintage lace can be beautiful again on so many projects. Sew lace to the ends of a store-bought or handmade scarf.

Burlap and Lace Pencil Roll

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Another way to repurpose vintage lace is to pair it with a contrasting material like burlap or canvas that can be recycled from other items. This burlap and lace pencil roll is especially pretty. Use lace on top of burlap to make pretty table runners, pillows, and wall art too!

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. ๐Ÿ™‚