Category Archives: reuse fabric items

Cleaning Rags Made From Old Clothes

It’s not like I came up with the idea to make clothes into rags: people have been using damaged clothing and other textiles as rags forever. This post is just a reminder. Have you been buying your cleaning rags? If so, why? I ask because cotton cloth rags work great and are easy to make.
I made nice cleaning cloths out of a pair of worn out flannel pajama pants. Old towels, worn flannel sheets, damaged blankets, cloth diapers ready to be passed on, stained or torn linens, old t-shirts and socks all make good cleaning rags!

Pick flannel or other cotton fiber clothing because it is soft and absorbent and usually lint free. Use it to wash your windows or clean your kitchen floor whatever…. It’s also great at polishing the chrome in the bathroom or dusting your bookshelf.

How to: Cut or tear the piece of clothing in manageable sized pieces (18 x 18 inches more or less). If you want to tear the fabric, sometimes it is easier to use a pair of scissors to cut the first half inch than tear. If you have never tried this before, the fabric will tear in a straight line following the weave. Quickly cut out any buttons, zippers, waistbands, hem, or anything else that might scratch whatever you are cleaning.

Save any buttons for future projects or give them to someone who can use them.

Made-made material like polyester, spandex, and nylon aren’t my favorite for cleaning because they are not as absorbent. I use worn out clothing made out of this stuff for rags that I don’t plan to wash and use again. They would be good for paint rags or auto maintenance.

Keep a pile(s) of rags on hand. I have a stack of cleaning rags with my cleaning supplies and another stack of “disposable” rags in the work shop.

How To Make A Doll Pillowcase: A Simple Sewing Project

After my daughter made a quilt for her doll, she needed a matching pillowcase and this is the result. See doll quilt post.
How to make a doll pillowcase:


Picture 1 shows the fabric after is has been cut out and folded in half: right sides (the good sides) together. Also two of the long sides have been sewed-up (note: Use a ½ inch seam allowance; which means that the line of stitches that you sew should be ½ inch from the edge of the fabric.) One end of the pillowcase is left open. Fabric size needed: 10 ¾ inches x 6 inches.


Picture 2 shows the edge of the opening folded over ½ inch and ironed. If you could see the other side, it would look the same.


Picture 3 shows the edge of the opening folded over again, this time 1 ¾ inches and then ironed.


Picture 4 shows it after it was sewed by machine. You could hand sew it if you prefer.


Picture 5 shows the completed pillow case after it was turned right-side out, ironed and with the pillow inside. Easy smesy!
Size of finished doll pillowcase is approximately 8 ½ inches by 5 inches. A pillowcase should always be made a little larger than the pillow itself.

This is a pillow that came with the bed we bought for my daughter’s doll. It is easy to make if you don’t already have one.

How to make A doll pillow to go with the above pillowcase

Cut two pieces of lightweight fabric 8 ¼ inches x 5 inches.
With good sides together, sew almost all the way around. Leave a few inches of one side open (not sewed). Turn the pillow outside right (through the hole). Add stuffing into the pillow then hand-sew the hole closed.
Finished pillow size is approximately 4 x 7 ¼ inches.

Adorable Doll Quilt Project For The Beginner Sewer: Or Keepsake Quilt For Sentimental Mom

Quilting is the mother of eco-friendly crafting in my option. Nothing should be wasted and people of past generations knew that instinctively. I designed this project using scrap fabric for my eight year old daughter. She wanted a blanket for her 18″ dolls. I was so proud of her; she did all the sewing herself.
How to: I’m going to explain the parts that I helped her (Helper) and the parts that she did herself (New Sewer).
1. New Sewer (NS) Choose fabric: decide on a color scheme.
The helper could give good options to choose from.
Material needed: Use scrap fabric (lightweight cotton works well here). If you don’t have any, ask around. Fabric can also be salvaged from unwanted clothing.

2. Helper (H) Using a plastic square as a guide (found at a crafting store in quilting section) and a rotary cutter, cut out 20 squares. You could cut out the squares with scissors but it is so much faster and more accurate this way.
Size of squares = 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches

3. (NS) Layout the squares in the desired arrangement. You could use a checkerboard pattern, diagonal stripes, or randomly arranged. My daughter went with a random pattern but she had to check to make sure no square was touching a matching square. She used six different fabrics.

4. (NS) Place right sides facing (that means the prettier side of each piece should touch) and using a sewing machine; sew strips leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance. Sew in groups of four squares end to end. When done you should have 5 rows (strips) with four squares in each row.

5. (NS) Iron the seams of the strips you just sewed. (Parental guidance!)You can iron the seams allowances open (B in photo) or you can iron the seam allowances all to one side (A in photo). If you iron them all to one side it will be easier to sew with the sewing machine. If you iron the seams open you need to be very careful to not let them get bunched up as you sew over them. It will be obvious what I mean when you begin sewing.

6. (NS and H) Pin two strips together right sides facing. Line up edges the best you can. Then draw on a sewing line with a washable marker. This is very helpful to someone new using a sewing machine. Because the strips were not sewed by professionals to begin with, the squares will not be exactly lined up.

7. (NS) Machine sew the strips together. Then pin the next strip onto the end and sew, then pin another…

When sewing, try to have the seam allowances open towards you. When you run the machine over them, they will not bunch up.
Note: when the strips are all sewed together you may find that the corners of the squares don’t all meet up. No worries, it will still be super cute. We’ll leave that ambitious outcome to experienced sewers.

8. (H) Cut a strip of fabric for the top and bottom boarder. The size of these boarder pieces will be the size of one of your strips x 3.5 inches.

9. (NS) sew on the top and bottom boarder just as you sewed the other strips together.

10. (H) Now you need to cut a strip of the border fabric the length of the unfinished quilt x 3.5 inches.
11. (NS) Sew on the side borders. Now you have the top of your quilt complete. Iron the quilt top.

12. (NS and H) Cut a piece of batting and a piece of fabric (for quilt back) each the same size as your quilt front.
Material needed: use a piece of scrap batting. I had a scrap piece of 100% cotton batting left over from another project. If you don’t have any, ask a quilter or two. This small quilt will use up pieces that would otherwise be wasted.

14. (NS) Stack the layers like this: back then top of quilt right sides facing, then have the batting on the very top. Line up edges the best you can. Pin.

15. (NS) Machine sew around the edge of the quilt but leave about 3 ½ inches un-sewed. This hole is where you turn the quilt right side out. This part is a lot like making a basic pillow.

16. (NS) Hand-sew the hole closed. (H) Helper might need to demonstrate how to make stitches. (whip stitch)

17. (NS) Quilt the blanket by hand-sewing along the border starting at a corner (see A in photo). Use a running stitch. (The top side of the quilt should be facing up when you are making your stitches so you can see where to sew. Also, quilt means to sew through all layers of the quilt). Then sew along the lines between strips (see B in photo). Normally quilters quilt between the squares in the other direction too but that is left out here for two reasons: one because the new sewer will probably be tired of hand-sewing by now and two because the squares may not be lined up perfectly.

This quilt fits the American Girl Doll beds, as well as, similar sized doll beds.

Finished quilt size: approximately 18 ½ inches X 15 ½ inches.

Alternative project: A sentimental Mom might want to make a keepsake quilt made out of baby clothing when her little-one outgrows them. Just use more squares to increase the size of the quilt. This will give an added sentimental value to the quilt. I’ve saved some clothing from when my girls were babies/ toddlers. I’d like to make a small quilt out of their little dresses someday.

Quilt-like Winter Curtain With Landscape Design: Keep The Heat Inside The House

This cool curtain will keep the heat in the house. I made it to cover sliding-glass doors. I wanted something to not only help keep out the cold but to also be pleasing: necessary during the coldest, bleakest time of the year. It’s eco-friendly because it reduces energy costs and because it was made almost entirely with repurposed fabric that I already had. I especially like this curtain because it is functional art.


How to: Tips for making one for yourself
Get a piece of fabric or a sheet to be the front. I used a black flat sheet that we weren’t using anymore. Design on paper your scene. You could make your curtain depict a pond with ducks or anything you like. Use scrap pieces of material and hand or machine sew the pieces on (appliqué). I prefer to hand sew in this case. I pieced together some vintage white sheets: the sheets were thick and very nice quality but there was a tear and some damage I needed to work around. I did not quilt through both pieces of fabric. I turned the edge under as I sewed it onto the background. When done with the front, add a back and then a boarder. The boarder fabric is the only part I bought new. I did not use any batting. Remember to leave open the ends of the top boarder for the curtain rod to go through. You will also notice that I cut the curtain in half. You may or may not have to do this.
Another option is to use a blanket or quilt that you already have and then fashion it into curtain(s). Crib sized patchwork quilts might later be used as charming winter curtains.

How To Make A Greener Pet Bed: Use Reclaimed Fabric And Recycled Fiber Stuffing

Try creating a pet bed out of a stained coat, damaged drapes, unwanted jeans, or an old wool blanket. Avoid the damaged areas when cutting out your pieces. Alternately you could use fabric remnants from fabric retailers. These scraps are usually sold at a discount. I made this bed out of a second hand curtain. The thick, neutral color fabric was perfect for the job. It is a good idea to pick sturdy fabric if making a dog bed. Make one for your cat too and she will shed on it instead of on your favorite chair. This project is easy enough for beginner sewers.

How to:
Determine the size you would like to make your pet bed. I started by cutting two squares of fabric 29 by 29 inches. With right sides together, sew around three sides (as indicated by the blue line) leaving one side open. Use a ½ inch seam allowance. Trim the corners off (also shown in blue) but be sure you do not cut your stitching. Turn your pet bed right side out. Now fold in the raw edges of the opening (about a half inch) and iron. You must do this before you sew the tunnels.

You could measure your pillow and do some division and re-measure and mark your tunnels… or fold your pillow in half and make a nice crease. Open it out flat. Fold the sides to the center this time (see photo) and crease. Use some pins to hold things in place then sew using the creases as your sewing guide lines. Depending on the size of your pet bed, you may have to do more folding first.

This is what mine looked like after I sewed the tunnels.

Stuff the tunnels. I filled mine with a soft recycled fiber stuffing (made from industrial textile waste). You might want to recycle the stuffing from an old pillow or stuff with scrap fabric pieces (collect the pieces that are too small to do anything else with.

All that is left to do is sew up the open side.
Because pet beds are so large I recommend you spot clean only. A carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment works great!

To make a pet bed out of jeans, see my post on how to make recycled jean pillow covers.

Only a few modifications to those directions are needed. You will need to leave one end of the tunnels open for stuffing. Also, make the strips 6 to 8 inches wide for medium to large beds.