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Give New Life to Old Clothes in These 8 Quirky Ways

Give New Life to Old Clothes in These 8 Quirky Ways

Every closet and dresser holds worn and forgotten clothes. They take up space and produce cobwebs in your mind. What if you found interesting ways to use those old clothes? It would not only clear out the cobwebs, but would also make you feel like a very clever recycler. The number one obvious use of old clothes is to hand them down to younger siblings or contribute them to thrift stores and shelters. It shrinks your family’s clothing budget, helps those in need, and reduces the world’s energy footprint. However, sometimes old clothes are too worn to be worn. Sometimes they have too much sentimental value to let go of them. Admit it! You keep some of those T-shirts at the bottoms of your drawers because every time you look at them you think about someone or something in your life that was fun or special. When old clothes can’t be passed along, consider these quirky ways to keep them in your life:

1. Turn shirts and pants into pillows

This is a cool way to get those special clothes out of the drawer or off the hanger and put them where you see them every day to spark special memories. Cut square or rectangular pieces from the clothing strategically, and cover an old, ugly pillow. Or simply sew a covering from your shirts and pants, then stuff it with fiberfill or old, unmatched socks. You can also tear your not-so-special old clothes into strips and use them for stuffing. Preserve the most interesting parts of clothing items for the face of the pillow: T-shirt designs, zipper and button plackets, or decorated pockets. If the clothing is not big enough to cover the pillow size you want, patch pieces together.

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2. Seal shirts into hanging holders

Have you seen those fabric diaper holders that drop from a hanger? You can make your own hanging storage by simply sewing up the bottom of a shirt and hanging it on a hanger. Place items inside to store them for use later. If you use a shirt with buttons or a zipper, you’ll have easy access to whatever you put inside. Use it for diapers, towels, fabric for sewing, newspapers and more. You can even use your hanging storage to collect other old clothing you plan to recycle into useful things. Simply unbutton or unzip the front to browse what’s inside. If you do this with T-shirts, you’ll have a handy opening at the top, but the solid front of the shirt will securely contain small things, such as wadded up plastic grocery bags, recyclable cans and plastic soda bottles, bottle tops, or other clothes you eventually take to the Goodwill. If you need bigger shirt-storage to hold more, add a rectangular piece of fabric to the bottom, which also allows you to stack items horizontally.

3. Cut patches or rip strips to make fabric crafts

Some old clothing isn’t nice enough to keep hanging around, but it provides a useful resource. Clothes, after all, are made from fabric—and old clothes can provide a crafter’s smorgasbord. Cut pieces to make patchwork crafts, including quilts, hot pads, curtains and chair covers. Or rip the fabric into narrow strips, then use a large hook or needles to crochet or knit into hats, scarves and rugs. Rag crafts are perfect for old clothes without memorable features that would make them suitable for pillows, but with unique colors that spark memories. Thicker strips can be used to make casings for hockey sticks, fishing rods and other long, thin artifacts. Twist casings made from stretchy fabrics into colorful headwraps. The possibilities are endless!

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4. Turn fabric riches to rags

Worn old clothes often make the best cleaning rags, because sizing has been completely washed out and the fibers are soft and absorbent. T-shirts make awesome head rags for people with curly hair when over-absorbent towels cause excess drying and make hair fuzzy. Old flannel shirts are the best for polishing glass, dress shoes and high-sheen metal, such as the chrome on your car.

5. Quirky quilted memories

It’s likely you are keeping an old pair of jeans or an 80s shirt or dress because it’s one-of-a-kind, and you know you’ll never see it again. Take it out of the dark and turn it into a family heirloom quilt that will bring you pleasure for the rest of your life. Cut pieces from the clothing that include special, memorable features, such as blinged-out jeans pockets, button plackets with funky buttons, or even worn patches on knees. If the fabric has worn all the way through, you can back the patch with a random piece of fabric before sewing it into a quilt. Quilting from old clothing works great when you use items of the same kind. For example, make a family quilt from one or two pairs of worn-out jeans from each person in the family. Consider embroidering each person’s name on the pants they wore!

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6. Give it up to packing

After some time, items of clothing that once held memories lose their appeal. The memories fade, or later events turn the positive memories into negative ones. Perhaps it’s time to give those pieces a second life in an even darker spot than your drawers: memory boxes in the attic. Old clothing wadded up into soft, squishy balls of fabric make awesome packing for delicate mementoes. Use natural fabrics without chemicals that might harm your heirlooms.

7. It’s a strain to keep it

Select one shirt with a loose weave to use as a strainer in the kitchen. Simply cut a square of the fabric and place it over a bowl or jar to strain tiny particles out of liquids. On jars, use a rubber band to hold the fabric in place; before securing, poke the fabric down into the mouth of the jar to create a small well to hold the debris you strain out. If you want to strain liquids into larger vessels, such as bowls or pans, sew the fabric into a small bag. Hold it over the bowl or pan and pour the liquid into the mouth of the bag.

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8. Hand it down to pets

When it’s really cold outside, even pets need a little extra help keeping warm. Use infant and children’s T-shirts and coats as-is on your pet’s upper body. Turn sleepers and pajamas into pet jumpers for all four feet. Don’t forget to cut a hole for your friend’s tail. If you don’t want to dress up your cats and dogs, use old clothing as winter-time bedding to keep them toasty. In fact, consider sewing up a big old shirt at the bottom, tucking the arms inside and loosely filling the inside of the resulting bag with other clothing. Lay it down flat, and invite Fido or Sylvester to cuddle up. What other uses can you think of? Part of the fun of reusing and recycling is coming up with uses of your own to fit your unique life. Don’t let those old clothes linger in the dank, dark corners of your home any longer. Pull them out, and rip, stitch or wad them into handy new uses!

Featured photo credit: Girl Writing in her Moleskin Diary/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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