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SewStylish

Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle Fabrics

This old dress can have a second life as the lining for a cute handbag.

I’m a firm believer in recycling, and I don’t just mean cans and newspapers. I often recycle fabrics and/or garments. A favorite piece of clothing, which may be hopelessly out of style, can gain a second life as a completely new item.

Here’s an example of a dress that I made several years ago. It’s a Vogue pattern by Calvin Klein. It has a peek-a-boo back. The fabric is a Gianni Versace silk charmeuse print that I bought in Paris. Let’s face it, my days of wearing dresses that are cut to there are over. I only wore the dress once, and I just love the fabric, so it’s time to recycle it into something completely new!

Take it apart at the seams
Literally. That’s the first step. Either pick the stitching out at the seams or cut carefully along the seamlines so you get as large a piece of fabric as possible (this is what I usually do). Depending on your fabric, you may want to simply cut off all the existing seam allowances so you never see the previous stitching holes.


Take the dress apart at the seams to reuse the fabric.

Accessories are a natural
The first thing to keep in mind when recycling fabric, especially fabric from a garment, is think smaller. In many cases, you won’t have enough fabric to turn into a new garment. But you will definitely have enough to make something small.


I’ve been known to recycle leather pants into evening bags

Walk the line
You can use your recycled fabric to line bags, as I did here with a fabric left over from my Flamenco Dress.


A great fabric or pattern can add a lot to your accessories.

If you have enough, you can even use recycled fabric to line a jacket. I have seen jackets that have been lined with antique fabrics from old kimonos. It all depends on how much fabric is in your original garment. You can also piece smaller fabric remnants together into a larger patchwork that becomes the basis for your new creation.

Presto change-o!


In the case of the Calvin Klein/Versace dress, I decided to recycle the fabric into the lining of a velvet jewelry pouch.

I have enough fabric left over to make a couple more of these for holiday gifts. And what luxurious gifts they will make. So don’t throw away that fabric or garment. Think of creative ways to recycle it!

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  1. User avater
    DisposableMe | | #1

    I love what you've done, Ann! Sewing really brings out my passion for recycling and reusing. I hate nothing more than letting something go to the waste bin, just because it's out of style or I've grown tired of it. I use the same trick - use old fabrics to line jackets and purses, it always looks great!

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