Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Postconsumer waste sewing

LA Times Garbage Maven, Susan Carpenter, explored what to do with old clothes. She's only recently began researching the topic. Read my wardrobe refashion, quilting and sewing posts for some of my experiences/ideas.

Many sewing blogs focus on sewing the latest patterns and fabrics. I do pattern reviews of recent patterns, too, in the hopes of helping out others as they have helped me. However, very few people show their more mundane projects like turning old t-shirts into rags or old towels into terry mop covers for cleaning hardwood floors.

So here's how I turn our worn-out hole-y t-shirts into rags. By themselves, they are too thin. So I cut off the sleeves and neckline/shoulders, turn the shirt inside out (so that the graphics stay on the inside and don't grab/drag on the furniture it polishes), fold them mid-torso, and then sew down the edges to hold it all together. These are now 4-ply thick, absorbent, lint-free and sturdy.

These rags are used and washed repeatedly until they fall apart.

The sleeves are separately sewn on one end to form a polishing mitt. Socks are used to polish shoes or for bicycle chain lubrication. They get tossed when they are dirtied.

Leftovers from sewing projects get thrown in a 66 quart bin of scraps. The bin was overflowing and I made 6 baby togs for two toddlers. The blue and white ensemble was made from scraps from my PJ pants (black) and a t-shirt (blue/black print) project.

The pink and purple ensemble was made from an old tie-dyed t-shirt (itself a refashion) and scraps from the two kits hoodies. I had to patch together fabric for some of the pieces. Kids clothes and quilts are perfect for using up scraps.

Here they are, lying on another post-consumer waste sewing project. More on that later.

OMG, I just saw the original leopard hoodie back in 2009 in Camouflage. Cute, cute, cute!



  1. Thanks for the great tip about converting old T-shirts to better rags. Just a little thought produces a much better result, but I probably never would have done the thinking myself.

  2. I've been doing the same thing with tees for years. I tend to use the sleeves for polishing shoes though. My spouse wears his wool socks until they are so threadbare they aren't useful for anything, and I tend to hang onto socks forever too. Perhaps the odd single sock can be put to use.

    I'd forgotten about the mop covers. I could use that idea, and I have the materials at hand, well, will eventually.


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