How to Make Clothes From Recycled Materials for Kids

hanging clothes image by Aaron Kohr from

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric from old clothes
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Washable fabric pencil
  • Sewing Machine
  • Needle and thread

Children outgrow clothing quickly, and the costs of new duds can add up. Minimize some of the costs of obtaining clothing for children by sewing them yourself. Although fabric can be expensive, you can get materials cheaply. Previously used clothing, cheap but ugly thrift store clothes, and household materials can all provide inexpensive sources of fabric to make more clothes for your kids; this is a wonderful concept called "upcycling."

Sort through materials that can be cut up for clothes. Consider reusing fabric from old adult clothing that may be stained or ripped if you can work around the damage. Think creatively about fabric items -- old curtains, towels, hand-me-downs and items purchased secondhand are all fair game. For example, if you have a child's shirt that still fits, but has stained sleeves, you can cut off the sleeves and replace them with new ones. Ripped or outgrown adult shirts, such as concert T-shirts, can be used for material in children's clothing. Consider whether buttons or zippers can be reclaimed for use or if new ones will be needed. Look for durable fabric that is not threadbare and can be washed.

Wash and dry the fabric. Mark fabric with a washable fabric pencil to make outlines of where to cut. Iron the fabric before cutting, so your edges will be smooth and accurate.

Cut up the fabric you will be using with scissors. Follow a pattern to guide you in how big each piece should be cut. Use measurements from other items of clothing that currently fits your child if you do not have a pattern.

Sew the pieces of fabric together with a sewing machine or by hand with needle and thread. Finish with buttons, zippers or ties, if needed. Try the finished item on the child to make sure it fits correctly.


  • Add decorative fabric to add length to the hems of girls jeans or pants that still fit but are too short. Allow enough room for seam allowances -- don't cut fabric too small. Think outside the box -- old pillowcases can be used for girls' nightgowns, adult wool coats can be used for girls' skirts and sweatpants can be made into leg warmers.


About the Author

Holly Case has written professionally since 2000. She is a former contributing editor for "ePregnancy" magazine and a current editor for a natural food magazine. She has extensive experience writing about nutrition, pregnancy, infertility, alternative medicine, children's health and women's health issues. Case holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and professional writing from Saginaw Valley State University.

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