Posts Tagged ‘recycling clothes’

Shopping bags are hardly considered stylish accessories, but I have to admit, mine are cute and unique. Completing two weeks of serious and ruthless closet cleaning left me with a stack of clothes that didn’t qualify for the normal “rag, donate, or save-for-weight-loss piles.” I couldn’t toss out Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary shirt or my “Art Breaks the Rules” t-shirt. And what was I going to do with the rainbow-colored tie-dyed shirts I made with my kids? I thought to myself, “What would Martha Stewart do? What would she do with all of these colorful, well-constructed and memorable t-shirts?” Instantly, I knew! Recalling an episode from her show, I set out to make shopping bags from t-shirts. After about 30 minutes, I’d recycled my t-shirts into sturdy, machine washable and definitely unique-looking shopping bags. It’s a win-win situation: no need to use store bags, no harmful materials used to make these reusable bags, and no additional waste went to landfills!

T-Shirt Bag
Adapted from directions by Martha Stewart

Tools and Materials:
Heavy-weight cotton t-shirts
Sewing machine
Medium-sized bowl, plate, or pot lid
Water-erasable marking pen or tailor’s chalk
Fabric scissors


Turn t-shirt inside out and pin bottom of t-shirt along the hem. Using a sewing machine, sew the bottom of t-shirt closed. For additional strength, sew a line parallel to the one just sewn.

Turn t-shirt right side out and lay flat on table. Place medium-sized bowl (or plate or pot lid) about half way over the neck hole. Using a water-erasable marker or tailor’s chalk, trace along edge of bowl.

Cut along the outline, making sure to go through the front and back layers of the shirt.

Lay shirt flat on a table and line up the hems on the front and back side of the sleeve and cut the sleeve off on the outside of the armhole stitching, making sure to cut through both layers of fabric. Repeat with the other sleeve.

Your bag is now complete.


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Holiday decorations are once again stored away and the New Year brings a fresh start in many ways. Lately, I’ve heard numerous conversations that contain three little words that manage to bring out the best and the worst in all of us, “Clean my closet.”

#1 – Organizing Your Closet
Have you ever gone clothes shopping and purchased an item very similar to one you already have or have you even purchased the exact same item again? I hear this all the time at work when clothes are being returned. One way to prevent this is to organize your closet by type and by color. For example, hang all blouses together. Then sort by sleeve length – group all long-sleeved ones together, short-sleeved ones together, and sleeveless ones together. Then within each sleeve length group, sort by color. Blacks with blacks, blues with blues, etc. By organizing this way you will always be able to take a quick visual inventory of what you have before you shop. After doing this myself I found out that I have seven white blouses!

#2 – Donate Clothes to a Cause
After cleaning out your closet consider donating the discards. Your donated clothes can make a difference in someone’s life. Here are a few organizations that will make good use of your clothes:

Dress for Success – Suits to Self-Sufficiency
“The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” www.dressforsuccess.org

The Women’s Alliance – Someone’s Future Is In Your Closet
“The Women’s Alliance is a national organization of independent, community based members who provide professional attire and career skills training to low income women and their families seeking self sufficiency.”

The Princess Project
“The Princess Project promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school girls who cannot otherwise afford them. Our effort is made possible through invaluable volunteer, donor and community support.”

Brides Against Breast Cancer
“To provide an opportunity for metastatic breast cancer patients’ dream or wish to be fulfilled by providing a special time of ‘Making Memories’ together with their families, a chance that might not have become a reality without the assistance of the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation.”

#3 – Organizing Necklaces
If your necklaces are in a tangled heap in a box or in a drawer, here’s a suggestion for you. In my closet I’ve hung one of those accordion-style wooden mug racks that has 13 pegs. Not only can I sort my necklaces by lengths, I can keep them tangle-free. Another advantage to this system is that I can see all of my necklaces at a glance – which makes it easier to select the right one.

#4 – A Restyling Tip
According to Deborah Mitchell, Senior Editor of Environmental Protections, “Collectively, Americans discard two quadrillion pounds (that’s a two with fifteen zeroes) of used clothing and textiles into the landfills each year.” Clothing made of quality fabrics can be restyled or recycled for you with the help of a seamstress. Often times a few changes can give an article of clothing a new look. Take it in, shorten it, take off the sleeves, make a top out of a dress. Be creative!

#5 – Einstein on Clothes
If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies. It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.
Albert Einstein

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