8 Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Old Fabrics

Are you a sewing enthusiast or craft lover with a stash of fabric scraps and old clothes that you can’t bear to throw away? With a little creativity, you can give your scrap fabric new life through upcycling.


Read on for 8 inspirational ideas on repurposing fabric in innovative ways.


1. Make Vintage-Inspired Fabric Tape

This simple project lets you transform small fabric scraps into colourful vintage-style tape. It's perfect for scrapbooking, gift wrapping, wreath making, and other paper crafts.

How to make fabric tape

You'll need assorted cotton, wool, or linen fabric scraps cut into 1/2 to 1-inch wide strips, double-sided tape or fabric glue, and scissors.

  1. To begin, layer scrap fabric strips of varying widths, colours, and patterns. 
  2. Overlap the edges slightly and use double-sided tape or dabs of fabric glue to stick the layers together, aiming for a randomly layered look. 
  3. To finish, trim any frayed edges to create clean lines. 

Get creative with different fabric textures like cotton prints, burlap, recycled wool, and faded linen.


2. Sew a Sweet Scrap Fabric Pin Cushion

This sewing project is quick and easy, making it an excellent option for beginners. Turn bits and bobs of leftover material into a handy pin cushion for your sewing room. This makes for a lovely gift for crafty friends, too.

How to sew a fabric pin cushion:

You'll need assorted cotton, felt, or flannel fabric scraps, polyester stuffing, and basic sewing supplies.

  1. Start by cutting two same-size squares in your choice of fabrics. Place them with right sides together and stitch around the edges, leaving a 2-3 inch opening along one side. 
  2. Trim seam allowances, turn right side out, and firmly stuff with polyfill. 
  3. Hand stitch the opening closed, adding any decorative embellishments as desired. 

3. Craft a Patchwork Table Runner

This easy craft lets you upcycle fabric scraps into a one-of-a-kind table runner. Mix and match prints and patterns for an eye-catching patchwork effect. 

How to craft a table runner: 

You'll need assorted cotton fabric scraps, a sewing machine, and iron-on hem tape. 

  1. Start by selecting fabric scraps with coordinating colours and complementary styles. 
  2. Cut them into uniform squares with a ruler and scissors. Play with arranging the squares in an appealing patchwork pattern.
  3. Next, sew the fabric squares together into rows, stitching along the edges with a 1⁄4 inch seam allowance. Press seams flat. 
  4. Join the rows together, nesting the seams and alternating the alignment so it stays flat.  
  5. Finish off the table runner edges using a packaged iron-on hem tape, and trim away any excess. 

4. Upcycle Old Jeans into a Cool Rag Rug 

Worn-out old jeans are perfect for upcycling into a rustic rag rug. This eco-friendly, fun project gives denim a second life as a durable, washable floor covering with heaps of textural appeal.

How to make a rag rug with old jeans: 

You'll need 2-3 pairs of 100% cotton jeans (avoid stretch denim), sharp scissors, and rug padding (optional).

  1. Scour thrift shops for cast-off jeans to make this earthy, upcycled rug. For variation, incorporate different shades of denim or strips of printed cotton fabric.
  2. Start by cutting the jeans into 1- to 2-inch wide strips. Stitch the fabric strips together end-to-end until you have a long, continuous rag strip.
  3. Coil the strip into a spiral, stitching through all layers as you go. For extra cushioning, you can stitch the rag rug over a piece of rug padding trimmed to size. 
  4. Once your rug reaches the desired dimensions, stitch the final edge closed and trim loose threads.

5. Turn Old T-shirts into Bunting

Bring a smile to any space by upcycling worn-out t-shirts and fabric scraps into lively string bunting. This colourful décor project is perfect for sprucing up parties, dorm rooms, nurseries, and more.

How to create bunting from old t-shirts:

You'll need old cotton t-shirts or other fabric scraps, complementary string or ribbon, and sewing supplies or fabric glue. 

  1. Cut the t-shirts and fabric into triangular flags. Fold the fabric over string or ribbon and securely glue or stitch along the open edge of the flag.
  2. Continue adding flags at 6-8 inch intervals until you've filled the string to your desired length. Mix and match prints and solids for a bold contrast. 
  3. You can hang your handmade bunting garland indoors or outdoors to infuse a space with a playful flair.


6. Fashion Cute Fabric Scrunchies

Scrunchies are back in style! Upcycle small fabric scraps from old sewing projects into trendy scrunchies for yourself or to give as gifts.

How to make fabric scrunchies:

You'll need 8 x 5-inch rectangles cut from cotton, jersey, or double gauze, 1/8-inch elastic, cut into 8-inch strips, and sewing supplies. 

  1. Stack two same-size fabric rectangles with right sides facing. 
  2. Sew around three edges, leaving one short end open. 
  3. Thread an elastic strip through the tunnel and stitch the open end closed. 
  4. Twist the fabric tube around the elastic into a scrunchie shape.


7. Design One-of-a-Kind Fabric Bowls

Upcycle fabrics into artsy bowls using a technique similar to paper mache. It's a great way to use smaller leftover fabric pieces in a functional work of art.

How to design fabric bowls:

You'll need: assorted cotton, felt, or flannel scraps, a bowl, plastic wrap, adhesive, paintbrush, and scissors. 

  1. Firstly, choose a bowl as a mould and cover it with plastic wrap. 
  2. Cut your fabric scraps into strips. 
  3. Apply adhesive to a section of the bowl and place a fabric strip on it, ensuring it's fully coated. 
  4. Repeat this step, overlapping strips, until the bowl is fully covered.
  5. Once this has been done, apply another adhesive layer on top for gloss and protection and let it dry completely. 
  6. Once dry, remove the fabric bowl from the mould and trim any excess fabric from the rim.

8. Design Upcycled Fabric Coasters

Transform your collection of fabric scraps into handy drink coasters. Protect your furniture while also showing off unique fabric combos. 

How to create fabric coasters:

You'll need 4-inch fabric squares cut from cotton, cork, felt, etc., iron-on adhesive, scissors, and a craft iron. 

  1. Start by fusing a paper-backed adhesive sheet to the wrong sides of your small squares.
  2. Cut out circles using a round object like a large mug as a template. 
  3. Arrange the fabric circles in a stacking pattern, placing them adhesive-side down. Press with a warm iron to fuse the layers together.
  4.  Trim away any overhang to finish the coaster edges.  

You can also make coordinating placemats using this same technique. Mixing patterns and textures creates a fun layered look.

Bring Your Upcycling Visions to Life with I Want Fabric

Upcycling leftover fabric scraps into new items is immensely rewarding. With a bit of creativity, you can reimagine waste scraps into handmade treasures. 

For more inspiration and affordable materials, browse our products at I Want Fabric. Our wide selection ensures you'll find the perfect fabrics and sewing supplies at great prices to make your upcycling ideas a reality.

So pull out your stash of old textiles and have fun rediscovering their potential.