How to Recycle Adult Clothes for Children

Written by jessica cook
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How to Recycle Adult Clothes for Children
Give your old T-shirt collection a new life as a fashion statement for your child. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

If you want to be eco-friendly and fashionable at the same time, stitch up some new clothing for your children out of some of your adult-sized outfits that don't fit properly any more. Your old T-shirts and sweaters can get new life as a stylish new outfit for a little one you know. If you have basic sewing skills you can whip up an environmentally friendly fashion statement in an afternoon. Your little one will be a lean, green fashion machine.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Adult T-shirts
  • Sewing machine
  • Cotton
  • Elastic thread
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Adult sweaters

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  1. 1

    Put a ladies' T-shirt on your child to see how it fits her. This type of shirt should be too big for the child but not overwhelmingly so; it works best with a fitted, women's style T-shirt. The shirt should fall somewhere around knee-to-ankle length on your child's body and not fall off her shoulders too badly.

  2. 2

    Hand-wind elastic thread onto your sewing machine's bobbin. You cannot use your machine's bobbin-winding feature for this, so just wrap it on by hand.

  3. 3

    Put cotton into the top of your sewing machine as usual; the thread should match the colour of the T-shirt. Load the elastic-thread bobbin into the machine as well.

  4. 4

    Sew a straight seam all around the waist area of the T-shirt. The seam should fall somewhere between your child's chest and her natural waist. Simply sew a straight line all around the midsection of the shirt. Sew two more lines under this one, spacing them approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart.

  5. 5

    Sew a straight seam up the sleeve of the shirt toward the shoulder. Start your seam at the hem of the sleeve on the top of the shirt and finish at the neckline. Repeat this step on either side of your initial seam for a total of three, then repeat on the other sleeve.

  6. 6

    Take the T-shirt out of your machine. The elastic thread will cause the T-shirt to gather at the stitching, making it more fitted for your child. Try it on her and it should fit her like an empire-waist dress.

    Baby Hat

  1. 1

    Cut off the sleeve of an adult large or extra large T-shirt. Position your cut just outside the shoulder seam of the sleeve.

  2. 2

    Position the sleeve in front of you so that the hem of the sleeve is pointing down, toward you, and the cut edge is away from you. Cut across the top edge to make it a straight horizontal line instead of the angle of the original shoulder shaping.

  3. 3

    Turn the sleeve inside out and sew a straight stitch across the cut edge of the T-shirt sleeve. Position your seam 1/4 inch in from the edge of the fabric.

  4. 4

    Keeping the sleeve inside out, pinch the top corners of the sleeve together. Use a needle and thread to stitch the two corners together.

  5. 5

    Turn the sleeve right-side out and use it as a hat for a baby or toddler.

    Warm Legs

  1. 1

    Cut the sleeves off of an adult-sized sweater. Position your cut just outside the shoulder seam of the sweater.

  2. 2

    Cut a horizontal line across the cut edge of your sweater to make it straight, just as you did with the baby hat. Repeat this with the other sleeve.

  3. 3

    Fold the cut edge of one sleeve in toward the inside by 1/2 inch. Repeat by one more 1/2 inch and pin in place with straight pins. Repeat this step with the other sleeve as well.

  4. 4

    Sew a straight stitch along the folded edge of the sweater fabric at the top opening to hem it. Repeat this with the other sleeve.

  5. 5

    Pull the sleeves onto your child's legs to wear as legwarmers. If the sleeves are too long, fold down the top hem or scrunch the sleeve fabric. The cuffs on the sweaters should keep them securely on your child's ankles.

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