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The Hippy Clothing Co. Blog
  • Re-purposing and Recycling Old Hippy Clothing
  • Kate Goldstone

Re-purposing and Recycling Old Hippy Clothing

 

Every self-respecting hippy hates waste. Luckily we're not alone these days, since recycling and re-purposing are highly desirable things to do, whatever your taste, walk of life or income.  

Recycling unwanted clothes into something really special

Would you rather eat worms than actually throw away a perfectly good piece of clothing? It might be because it's gone out of fashion, doesn't fit any more, is a bit knackered or you're just bored of it. Either way, here are some creative ideas for turning old and unwanted clothing into something fabulous and fresh.

Making the most of embroidery, appliqué, tearing and more

A lot of our gorgeous hippy clothes come complete with stunning hand-embroidery, others feature intricate applique décor, beading or patchwork and some even contain carefully-torn fabric bands and ripped layers. The end result is far too gorgeous to get rid of, so what can you do with all that beautiful, skilful, vivid handiwork?

Recycled cushion covers

You can spend a fortune on posh cushion covers. Some of them are stunning, little masterpieces of creativity studded with beads and embroidery, colour and texture. But it's ridiculously easy to make your own. All you need to do is cut a square or rectangle of sturdy fabric for the base, then embellish it as follows:

  • with strips of colourful fabric sewn together to form beautiful stripes, either contrasting or toning
  • with circles of fabric, each sewn onto the background in a regular or random pattern
  • with one piece of gorgeous fabric, circular or square or any shape you like, sewn onto the background with contrasting or toning thread
  • with ravishing chunks of embroidery or applique, cut out and sewed on  in a patchwork pattern
  • with flower designs, the petals made from different scraps of patterned, torn, embroidered or otherwise embellished material
  • landscapes, animals, abstracts, faces, trees, cars, you name it

Once you've finished the front, sew it and the back of the cushion together and fill it with a cushion pad. You can fit a zip or just sew along all four edges. 

    Recycled duvet covers and throws

    Take one old duvet cover. Then simply decorate the top side with cut-out chunks of embroidery, torn fabric, beaded designs or simple strips of different colours and patterns.

    A sewing machine keeps things tidy but you can sew by hand. You can even tack it together roughly if you like - if you're rubbish at sewing and the finished effect looks tatty or amateur, you can draw over the edges with Tulip 3D craft paint to neaten it. The paint is waterproof, washes just fine and comes in a multitude of wonderful colours including glitter-filled and transparent gel. You can also use it to draw on top of the fabric and create unique patterns: spirals, flowers, stripes... 

    What about throws? They look fabulous on beds, chairs and settees, and an old un-fitted sheet or duvet cover makes the perfect base for your creation. 

    You can cut the embroidered panels out of an old embroidered t shirt or vest top, cut intricately-patterned fabric into strips or any other shape. Specialist fabric glue, available in good craft shops, is an excellent alternative to sewing. There's even iron-on webbing, which you can use to firmly fix the fabric scraps onto the background before sewing around the the edges.

    There are hand-made curtains, which are also really easy since they're just rectangular. Or you can add embroidered panels to the bottom of existing curtains to funk them up as well as making them even better at keeping draughts out.

    Traditional blanket stitch is one of the simplest to achieve, as is whip stitch. Here's a link to a Wikipedia article on blanket stitch.

    Create a fun skirt out of an old jumper

    What do you get when you cut the sleeves off your favourite ancient winter woolly, take the neckline and top section off at armpit level and add an elastic waistband? A stylish, straight winter skirt with a ready-made knitted hem, which you can even line for extra warmth and a better 'hang'.

    You can also sew strips of knitted jumper together into a super-cosy throw, blanket or even a cushion cover. And woolly jumpers make excellent winter scarves when you cut them into strips, sew them together and back them with a suitable fabric.

    Build wall art from old embroidered clothes

    In the same way music fans sometimes frame their old gig T-shirts for posterity, you can frame that mouth-wateringly complex embroidered and torn t shirt or strappy top, or take off the sleeves / straps and frame the main patterned bit. 

    Taking the recycling thing a step further, get a suitable old picture frame from a charity shop and paint it instead of buying a new one. Water-based eggshell paint is perfect for the job, or you could mix together old household emulsion leftovers and paint your frame with that.

    Applique old bits and bobs onto new clothes

    You adore the lovely embroidered panels on your Hippy Clothing Company top, skirt, jacket, trousers, coat or shirt. It's hand-crafted and unique, far too nice to just throw away. Why not cut it out and sew it onto a new piece of clothing? Perhaps the back panel of a denim jacket, the lapels and cuffs of a winter coat or as a colourful border around a plain skirt?

    Upholster an old footstool or kitchen chair

    You can even cut out the prettiest bits from your old hippy clothes and use them to upholster a vintage footstool or make a tie-on cushion for a kitchen chair. With shabby chic top of the interior décor wish list right now, it's bang on style.

     

    Make beautiful, practical draught excluders

    With winter on the doorstep, millions of us are wondering how to save money on home heating. Rich, thick door curtains are one way to keep bills down, and they're very easy to make. All you need is a suitable-sized piece of thick fabric, which you can them embellish to your heart's delight with scraps from exotic pieces of clothing bought from us and worn to death, plus anything else interesting you can find around the house or in your nearest charity shop.

    Take those big, shapeless 1980s / '90s ladies' 'flock' fabric shirts, for example. They're incredible, all velvet-textured and rich, available for next to nothing in charity shops because they're so horribly unfashionable. But they're perfect for enhancing the look of practical heat retaining door curtains as well as even more basic money-savers like sausage-shaped, stuffed draught excluders for doors.

    Inspiration on Pinterest

    Pinterest is a brilliant source of inspiration. If you're knee deep in glorious fabric scraps and want to do something creative with them, here are some links to whet your appetite:

    What about your ideas?

    Our customers are a creative bunch. If you have any bright ideas of your own about what to do with old unwanted clothing and scraps of intricate fabric, let us know and we'll share it with everyone.  

    • Kate Goldstone

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