Making Clothes Out of Household Items
Turning household items into clothing can be a fun and creative way to make unique fashion pieces without spending much money. With a bit of imagination, some basic sewing skills, and materials easily found around the home, I can transform everyday objects into wearable garments and accessories.
Finding Inspiration and Materials
When I first think about making clothes from household items, I look around my home to see what materials I have on hand that could work. Some good options include:
Old bedsheets and curtains: These large pieces of fabric can easily be turned into dresses, skirts, shirts, and more. I like using patterned sheets and curtains to add an interesting print.
Old t-shirts: Cutting up and reworking oversized t-shirts can create cropped tops, tank tops, skirts, and even bags.
Socks: I can turn long socks into arm warmers or leg warmers. I can also cut the toes off socks to make sleeve cuffs or chokers.
Towels: Terry cloth towels have a texture that works well for making robes, skirts, dresses, and accessories like headbands.
Plastic bags: Bags can be woven or fused together to create waterproof totes or purses. Clean bags in bold colors can make a statement.
I also look for clothing or fabrics I no longer want and repurpose them. Old jeans, sweaters, dresses, and scarves are great for refashioning into new items. Beyond these basics, I get creative and consider what other household textiles I could incorporate like lace curtains, upholstery fabric, or tablecloths.
Online blogs and social media accounts provide endless inspiration for turning household items into clothing. I browse projects others have made to find ideas I want to recreate or use as a jumping-off point for my own designs.
Essential Sewing Skills and Tools
To transform my gathered materials into wearable pieces, I rely on some basic sewing skills and tools. Here are a few I find most essential:
Hand-sewing: Practicing basic stitches like the running stitch and whip stitch allows me to sew certain items by hand. I use hand-sewing for quick repairs or when working with delicate fabrics.
Machine sewing: For most projects, I use a sewing machine for faster construction. I make sure I can do straight stitches, zigzag stitches, and finishing stitches like bartacks.
Cutting and measuring: Accurately cutting pattern pieces and measuring for sizing helps my finished garments fit properly. I invest in fabric scissors, a measuring tape, pins, and chalk.
Ironing: Ironing pieces flat before cutting and sewing results in smoother construction. I also press as I sew to keep seams neat.
Handy stitches: In addition to basic seams, I practice stitches like gathering, darts, and hemming. This expands what I can create.
Finishing: Adding details like trim, buttons, bias tape, or ribbon takes my pieces to the next level.
With these fundamentals, I have the skills to follow most patterns and bring my clothing visions to life! I also continue challenging myself to add new techniques to my repertoire.
Design Process and Construction
Once I have my materials and skills ready to go, I follow this general process for designing and constructing my clothing:
I look at the fabric or item I have and brainstorm what it could become. Sometimes I start with a specific piece in mind, like turning a blanket into a coat. Other times, I shape the final product as I go. I sketch some options to visualize different styles.
Planning the Pattern
Depending on the complexity, I either create my own pattern from measurements or modify an existing pattern to fit my item. For simpler shapes, I drape the fabric on a dressform. For woven fabrics, I draw pattern pieces on paper.
Preparing the Fabric
I wash and press fabrics to preshrink them before cutting. I also trim away any frayed edges. For bulky fabrics, I steam press to flatten before cutting smoother pattern pieces.
Cutting Out the Pieces
Using my measurements, I carefully cut out each pattern piece, leaving room for seams. I mark notches and dots to help align when sewing. I cut lining and interfacing pieces at this stage, too.
Sewing the Piements
Here is where I get to see my design take shape! I sew the pieces together, step-by-step, following the construction order I marked on the pattern. I press seams after sewing each piece.
Adding Finishing Touches
Finishing touches like hems, closures, and trim personalize the final look. This is also when I attach any hardware, buttons, or embellishments.
Trying on the Completed Look
The most rewarding moment is trying on the finished garment for fit! I make any needed alterations before enjoying wearing my one-of-a-kind creation.
With this system, I can successfully create all kinds of stylish clothes and accessories out of common household items. The possibilities are truly endless when I let my creativity run free!
Fun Household Clothing Projects to Try
To spark ideas for your own designs, here are a few of the homemade fashions I have crafted from household materials:
T-Shirt Yarn Bracelets
Materials: Old oversized t-shirts, scissors
Construction: Cut t-shirts into 1-inch wide strips. Tie strips together end to end until long enough to wrap around wrist. Braid or twist strips to form patterned “yarn”. Tie ends together to close bracelet.
Sock Bunny Slippers
Materials: New socks, rice or beans to fill, thread, ribbon
Construction: Sew two socks together into bunny head shape. Leave opening to fill with rice/beans for weight. Sew up opening. Add ribbon for bow tie collar.
Plastic Bag Tote
Materials: Clean plastic shopping bags, iron, scissors, rope handles
Construction: Cut bags into strips. Iron to “weld” strips together into waterproof fabric sheet. Fold into bag shape. Attach rope handles.
Materials: Terry cloth towel, thread, ribbon belt
Construction: Measure out robe shape on towel. Cut armholes and neck hole. Sew along edges. Add ribbon waist tie.
The only real limits are your creativity and available materials! For more ideas, look at DIY and upcycling projects online. What unique fashions will you make from household items?