Getting Crafty with Old Clothes
By Adele Sweeney

When money is tight, you have to be resourceful. But, being resourceful also teaches your children to recycle, be creative and use their imagination, 'thinking out of the box' at an early age!

If you have clothes that are a bit dull and uninspiring, or that are too worn and torn to send to charity, put them to good use! Create something new from old AND keep your children entertained for free at the same time.

Applique-style Designs

You can jazz up boring clothes and bring them to life by decorating them with bits cut out of your old clothes: use fabrics with patterns and textures and cut out shapes, words, flowers etc. If you are lucky enough to have access to a Sizzix or other type of die cutting machine these are excellent for cutting out some brilliant designs. You can sew the shapes directly onto your item, and 'rough' stitches can often look better, giving the piece a naive or rustic look (so it doesn't matter if you aren't great at sewing!)

You can further enhance these cut out pieces with beads, sequins or fabric pens/paints.

Fabric Paints and Stamping

If you haven't tried fabric paints before and don't really want to spend any money, buy some used bottles from eBay! Then get some plain t-shirts and jeans that have become stained and start to play. Try decorating the jeans freehand, just by 'drawing' with the paints (they have thin nozzle attachments so this is fairly straightforward). T-shirts can be 'stamped' using simple rubber stamps: brush the paint onto the stamp then straight onto the fabric. Practice first as you don't always get a great impression, but this can still look ok.

You could also try stencils, painting a design or filling in an iron-on transfer. You might be dubious at first that the designs will remain once the clothes are washed, but fabric paints are supposed to be wash, fade and crack proof.

You could also try this technique with canvas shoes.

Using Decorative Beads

Enhanced plain clothes or those with simple embroidered patterns by using bugle beads and seed beads, in co-ordinating colours, to either make or bead over a pattern. This is a very simple yet effective way of really adding some sparkle to an otherwise plain piece of clothing.

The Ugly Duckling gets a Makeover

Sometimes you get clothes that have been contaminated in the wash by darker colours, or have stains that just don't come out. Or, you can find really great bargains at a charity store or even brand new clothes that are in the sale because they are dull and unattractive and a bad buy for the store! Keep your eye out for these - we are trained to see the nice, pretty clothes and go "urgh!" to the boring stuff, but re-train your brain to think boring is good, because boring can be re-vamped into something great (and original!) even if the colour is a horrible pea green - try using clothes dye or cover up stains using fabric paints or applique as mentioned above. You can also add ribbons, flower buds, lace, patchwork, beads, lots of things.

You don't have to be overly artistic or creative to customise your clothing - often less is more and a simple, understated embellishment will suffice.

Adele Sweeney is a frugal UK Web-Wahm single mum of two little girls working online with her content sites, and, aimed at helping others earn money using the internet

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