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16 ways to channel your inner Joanna Gaines and repurpose old textiles

buying a home
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Dec. 4, 2018.

Your old shirts, pants, and scarves don’t need to end up in the garbage because of a stain or a rip. If you can’t donate your old items, try upcycling and repurposing them to decorate your house instead.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to find vintage scarves or affordable, quality t-shirts in bulk, check out these beautiful crafts and get ready to get busy in your creative space.

Repurpose t-shirts in 3 different ways

home decor ideas
One of the best things about t-shirts is the way they feel, especially after they’ve been worn a few years.

The soft, thin fabric lends itself to several projects that can make your home softer and more snuggly:

  1. T-shirt pillowcase. Start with this simple, no-sew project. You will need a shirt with long sleeves to make the knot in the front. This is a good way to hide any holes or stains that can’t be fixed. Once it’s all tied up, no one will suspect this new throw pillow was once an old piece of clothing.
  2. T-shirt quilt blocks. Have a lot of old shirts that no one is wearing anymore? Cut out the main body of each shirt and turn them into quilt blocks. The finished product is a soft piece of memorabilia that your kids will have for years. Best of all, you save money by avoiding the fabric store.
  3. T-shirt wall art. Take any tourist shirts and turn them into cheap, easy works of art. If the shirt has some text or a nice design, like this one, cut it out and frame it. Once the fabric is behind the glass, it’ll look expensive and eye-catching. Have a few shirts? Do this as a collage and use them all.

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7 snazzy ways to breathe life into old sweaters

home decor ideas
The thick, textured feel of a sweater can lend itself to a number of crafts and add some unique touches around your house.

Add some knitted charm to these fun projects:

  1. Sweater pillow. Anyone who has used a bunched-up sweater as a pillow substitute knows how comfy it can be under a sleepy head. Take it one step further. Feel free to incorporate any great buttons or interesting seams to add a special touch.
  2. Sweater blanket. Need to cuddle up even more? Try your hand at a felted wool sweater blanket. This requires a few different sweaters, as well as some cutting and sewing. However, the materials to make it will be easy to come by. Let your family and friends know you want to take their old sweaters off their hands, and the donated fabric will come pouring in.
  3. Sweater bed. Do you have a little furry friend who likes to hang out in the kitchen or the mudroom? Then give your pet a special spot with this cozy sweater bed. Be sure to feature any nice patterns on the base to let it stand out like the argyle in the example. Your pet will love the warmth of the bed and the fact that it came from their home and family.
  4. Sweater pumpkins. Get ready for fall with these fun and colorful sweater pumpkins. These come together fast, making it easy to make for a table decoration or an extra-special touch for your front porch. These are also fun to give away and for little ones to stack up and play with, thanks to their texture. Use any mix of colors and sizes you like — these look better with some variation.
  5. Sweater pouf. A larger version of the pumpkins is this attractive sweater ottoman pouf. This is a cheap and easy way to add a footrest to your living room, home office, or reading corner. You’ll have to buy some stuffing and plan ahead, but they’re worth the effort. It doubles as an extra seat that everyone will want to try.
  6. Sweater cozy. For a quick and little project, try making vase cozies. This changes up an old or fading vase with some new texture and possibly a few buttons. The thicker texture and softer feel mean you can mix up your flowers with decorative twigs or taller flowers. These add a lot of visual interest and also help you continue a color story in a room.
  7. Sweater trees. If you need a nice little holiday touch this winter, take some old sweaters and turn them into quick holiday trees. These can be done as cones, as shown in the tutorial, or as flattened-tree shapes. Either way, they make a beautiful decoration for any buffet, a photo backdrop, or in your centerpiece. 

Grab your scarves and make 4 funky projects

home decor ideas
Like t-shirts and sweaters, scarves offer a great alternative to expensive fabric.

If you have a few too many scarves you’ve collected over the years or come across a box of cheap scarves at the thrift store, get going on these great touches to your house:

  1. Scarf planter. Get your modge podge and scarves together in the garden to give your old planters a new look. This scarf planter project helps make plain pottery look fun and fresh. Your plants will look even more fabulous than normal with the help of a recycled scarf.
  2. Scarf ceiling. Dress up a bedroom or a reading corner with a quick touch to the ceiling, thanks to your scarves. This tutorial shows you how to take your most colorful wraps and turn them into a bohemian decoration that makes your space a little dreamier. This one is quick and fun, so don’t wait to try it.
  3. Scarf seats. For the holidays, add a little warmth to metal chairs by adding a scarf to the backs. This hot cocoa party host added to the look with mini candy canes and little chalkboards as seating cards. This is so lovely no one will mind sitting outside on a chilly day.
  4. Scarf wreath. Need a great wreath? Try using an old plaid scarf to put a nice twist on an old favorite. Grab a wreath frame from your local craft store and then wrap a big, basic scarf around it. The winding movement will add some texture and visual interest to the wreath. Accessorize it with burlap ribbon, buttons, or leaves.

BONUS: 2 more upcycles to try when you’re feeling crafty

home decor ideas

Looking for more ways to dress up your house? There are still plenty of ideas for adding fun touches to every room:

  1. Lace lampshade. Start by using an old lace or ruffled shirt to create a new lampshade. The added texture and color will make an everyday lamp look unique and expensive.
  2. Denim rug. Have some old jeans you want to use up? Try making this beautiful braided rug for the living room, the mudroom, or even a bathroom. The fabric is strong enough to be tread on throughout the day and will feel great under bare feet. If you have some denim leftover, use it to make some basic draft stoppers to keep you warm all winter.

For more fun tutorials on the fly, check out 6 unexpected ways to boost curb appeal or 12 DIY ways to give your décor a fall makeover. Then, get to crafting and use one of these textile tutorials to reinvent your space.

Jordan Smith is a full-time stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a new dog, Luna! She loves spending time with her family and coming up with creative new crafts for every occasion. She also enjoys strolling the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina, and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance. 

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.