Saving Money on Clothing and Textiles
By Nikki Willhite
There is no getting around fabric in our lives. We need it for
our clothing, while sleeping, washing, cleaning, cooking and more.
In earlier times, even the fabric from the bags food was
delivered in was prized. It was called feedsack cloth, and was recycled into
colorful quilts. Well-preserved, attractive feedsack is now prized. It sells
well on ebay.
Our pioneer ancestors valued the smallest scraps of fabric. We
should be so frugal today. Even one of my favorite quilters, Eleanor Burns, who
does the "Quilt in a Day" series Saturday morning on PBS television, has a
rather annoying habit of cutting the fabric she needs and the taking the rest
and throwing it over her shoulder with a "Get rid of it" remark! Personally, I
could stand behind her, and take that fabric and do quite a bit with it!
We use a great variety of fabric and textiles in our homes. Many
of the items we have can be kept a lot longer and put to use with just a little
bit of effort and imagination.
Here are some ideas for those of us, conscious of our
budgets, and mindful of the value of fabric and textiles, to reuse and
recycle some of these things:
Fabric from clothing can be recycled in many ways. You can
stiffen fabric and use it in many craft projects. If you don’t want it to ravel,
apply Modge Podge to it before you cut it out. You can take that same Modge
Podge and use it to apply the fabric to glass, wood, boxes, and other surfaces
for a decorative, decoupage design.
We’ve all seen fabric covered boxes and scrapbooks. You can also
apply fabric to furniture. Trying putting it on the back panel of an old
bookcase. It will give it character and showcase the items in the display.
If you have kitchen cabinets with glass doors, you can sheer
fabric inside the glass for a Provincial look. Some people even decorate their
walls with fabric. They staple batting on the walls, and then put the fabric on
top of it. It is very luxurious looking, but not a recycling idea and probably
not very frugal. However, if you have one wall in very bad shape, it may be a
way to deal with it.
Little scraps can be used to tie up potpourri or small gift
items like small bars of soap.
Anything large can usually be cut down or used in another
capacity .Talented seamstresses can take a man’s suit and turn it into one for a
young man or child. Much easier, however, it to use an item intended for one
purpose for another use.
A well-worn man’s shirt can be turned into an apron for cooking
or hobbies. It can be put into a child’s dress up or Halloween box.
T-shirts in good shape can be recycled and used as the top of a
little girls dress. Bands of the knit fabric can be sew together with other
knits to decorate or extend other t-shirts. T-shirts can also be worn to bed,
but be careful with children because they are not flame retardant.
Shirt cuffs, and other heavily interfaced fabric can but cut off
and used to tie back draperies, or to make napkin holders.
Anything made of yarn has recycling ability. All you have to do
is pull it apart. Once you get it going, it moves quickly. Balls of yarn can be
used to make all kinds of things, from clothing to potholders and afghans.
Try and look at items as not what they are, but what they may
become. Sheets can become pillowcases, towels cut down to washcloths,
tablecloths into placemats. Miscellaneous fibers can become stuffing for
Bedskirts are the perfect size to recycle into window valances.
The can also be used as skirts around chairs. Valances can be made into
bedskirts, or used as ruffles and as a decorative touches on other valances,
pillows or pillow shams. Mattress pads can be cut down for smaller beds, or used
inside quilts and other padded items.
As long as you have a waterproof liner on your shower, you can
use any type of curtain in front of it to give a more formal look to your
Even worn linens can be used. Old clothes can be saved for
painting, heavy cleaning, or camping. Old sheets, t-shirts, and other fibers are
used for rags and drop cloths. Pillowcases can be used as hampers, and fleece to
line animal beds.
Blankets can be used inside quilts. You can keep old blankets in
the trunk of your car for emergencies. You can also use them to protect your car
should you tie something on top of it, or to protect an item you place in your
trunk and have to tie in to get it home.
You can also use them to sit on when you are outdoors, or to
cover an eating table.
Bits and pieces of fabric can be used in the traditional manner
of making quilts, doll clothes, stuffed animals and toys, and holiday ornaments
or gift bags. Fabric that is still in good condition can also be cut into quilt
squares and sold.
If you can’t use an item, give it to someone who can. Donate to
your local charity or thrift store, and take a deduction on y taxes.
I don't know who first coined these words, but when it comes to
our household fabrics, they are very applicable:
"Use it up; Wear it out; Make it
do; or do without"