Waste Not Want Not – Part 4 – Clothes and material

Useful Hints & Tips

We all know about kerbside collection for old clothes and shoes. Whether its through your councils recycling bin day or charities that ask for good quality second hand goods. Clothing banks are also always looking for items but what other ways are there for you to recycle your clothing… maybe some of the items aren’t in a good enough state to pass on?


  • Animal bedding – Machine washable jumpers past their prime make good cat/ dog bed liners… and you don’t need to cut or sew anything… just remove any choking hazards.
  • Cushion covers – Different but a nice edition to an eclectic pillow collection… remember the more eclectic your furnishings are, the easier it is to replace items one by one without fear of nothing matching.
  • Hand warmer – Using one sleeve from an old jumper, hem both ends with a zig zag stitch to stop unravelling then use as a muff or hand warmer.
  • Hot water bottle cover – because even hot water bottles need some love too.
  • Tea cosy
  • Fingerless gloves – If the elbow in your jumper is worn through, cut the sleeves off below the elbow then unravel and cut off about 6 lines of wool. Next use some of the wool you have unravelled to hem the ends of the sleeve to stop it unravelling any further. Next cut a hole around 1 inch in width at the side of the sleeve about 3 inches from the cuff and then sew around this hole with the remaining wool to stop the hole from getting bigger.
  • Leg warmers – Create a hem around the larger end of the arm using a zig zag stitch, ensuring the wool will not unravel and thread with loose elastic.
  • Or the obvious… unravel it and knit a new sweater… like they did in wartime – Larger jumpers can be unravelled and made into a matching hat scarf set or a new cardigan. Just make sure no one wants it first.


  • Animal bedding – Re-use your old blankets as bedding for your dog and or cat.
  • Composting – Old blankets made solely of natural fibres (eg. cotton or wool) can be added to your compost. Cut into small pieces, and add them gradually.
  • Exercise Mat – Fold a blanket into quarters and stitch the loose ends together to create an exercise mat


  • Gardening containers – old kids (or adults) wellies , with some holes in the bottom, make great and unique flower pots. I’ve kept the kids very first wellies when they began to walk… they’ll make a great keepsake flower pot… please it means I have a good excuse to keep them.
  • Tool storage – Like above old boots etc are great for storing old tools


  • Travel Laundry
    Take a pillowcase away with you when you travel to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes. This is a great tip if you are travelling to more than one destination when you have to re-pack your case. When you arrive home simply empty the pillowcase into your washing machine. Wash and dry the pillowcase and put back in your suitcase ready for your next trip.
  • Toy sack
    Create a fun toy for the younger members of the family – or create a Santa sack for Christmas! Make templates out of cardboard, then cut out the letters in different textured methods of fabric and stitch to the pillowcase. Thread a cord through the top of a pillowcase to create a drawstring bag to keep the toys neat and tidy.
  • Dusters
  • Napkins – Obviously not as is… they’ll need to be cut into squares and hemmed… on that note, thinner pillowcases will make good handkerchiefs, it is colds and sneezes season after all.
  • Storing sheets – This works in two ways… firstly older pillowcases are a great way to store sheets etc, it keeps them need and folded. Secondly, if you store duvet covers (matching sets) inside their pillowcases, you’re more likely to find the ones that match, all nice and neat and together.
  • Hair bobbles – This circle of material with some elastic in the centre was very popular when I was a child. It was the easy way to get our clothing and hair accessories to match in the 80’s and 90’s #CRINGES! Remember your hair being scraped up into a high frothy pony tail? I remember looking semi-permanently surprised for a lot of the 1980’s.
  • If you’re SERIOUS about re-using pillowcases… try this tutorial, how to turn a pillowcase into a young girls dress

I’ve collected a lot of bots and pieces of material over the years. They’re now coming in useful… click the video below to find out why…

Towels are another thing we seem to collect. Every time we have guests I have the urge to buy some new ones. With some of the old ones I’m going to make the kids individual wash bags with face clothes and cleaning mits. These towelling drawstring backs will also be great in the summer (Summer, what’s that?) for trips to the beach or swimming bathes (beach cheaper).
Here are some brilliant ideas for what to do with towels on their last legs CLICK HERE FOR LINK <—- my favourite is the bath pouffe… will Have to try that one out.

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