Skip to main content

<< [email protected]

Closet Repurposing

Sponsored by


Recommended for ages 6 and up with adult supervision.


This project is inspired by the artists exhibited in Mode Brut and the sustainability of upcycled materials in design. The average American throws away about 70 pounds of clothing a year, and consumers are becoming much more mindful of the lifecycle of their garments–particularly since they are not readily easy to recycle in most places.  In this exhibition, Creativity Explored artists paired with partner designers Bonanza, Tokyo Gamine, and Yanni Brumfield to reimagine the way fashion intersects with purpose. 

Looking into our own closets, what clothes do we not need anymore? How can we transform these old items into fun, new pieces? This project will both lighten the load in your closet while inspiring reuse into one-of-a-kind couture!



Pants or shorts





Yarn, ribbon, shoelaces

Extra fabric

Pom poms and embellishments

Fabric markers, paint or dye

Unconventional materials: ie- recycled cardboard, found plastic, scrap astro turf

Sharp scissors

Needle and thread

Safety pins

Hem tape

Hot or tacky glue


Look through your clothes to find items that you no longer use or need. Put them in a pile.

  • Once you’ve collected everything, now it is time to think about the items in new ways:
    • Arrange them by color: 
      • What are the hues and tones from light to dark? 
      • Do you seem to have a preferred color? 
    • Arrange them by memory:
      • Which items mean the most? 
      • Why are you attached to certain items?
      • Are there particular features of the item that you like most and could isolate?
        • A cool pocket or embellishment
        • A printed image
    • Can you arrange them by pattern, fabric type? 
      • Synthetic fabrics vs. cotton
      • Solid colors vs. pattern
  • Once everything is organized, make a plan: What do you want to create? 
    • Monster Garment: Cut all of the items up and reassemble them as a single piece
    • New Life: Use markers, dyes, or paints to create original artwork on existing pieces of clothing
    • Avant Garde: GO WILD. Add found materials to create exceptional one-of-a-kind pieces

MCD Project Example:

Old Shirts Turned into a Tote Bag:

  • Grab an old T-shirt.
  • Lay the shirt out flat then cut underneath the armpit and across, cutting off the top of the shirt.
  • After you cut the top off, turn the shirt inside out.
  • Sew shirt fabric together along where you cut. This will make the bottom of the tote.
  • Cut tote straps by cutting strips of fabric above the seam at the base of the shirt.
  • Sew the ends of the straps to both sides of the top of the tote.
  • Cut the straps in two and tie the two halves together to create a new strap.
  • Flip the tote right side out and all done!

Repurposed Patchwork Sweater 


  • Cut into the sweater’s back to create an empty space for the patchwork design.
  • Create your design by cutting, arranging, and sewing in the textile scraps.
    Looking for inspiration?
    See our ideas below for different design patches to make!

    • Woven square:
      • Cut strips of fabric, alter by knotting or braiding as desired.
      • Stretch fabric strips horizontally across the gap cut in the sweater. Space evenly.
      • Sew each side of the fabric strip to the inside of the sweater.
      • Evenly place fabric strips vertically, crossing sewn-in horizontal strips.
      • Sew tops of vertical fabric strips to the sweater.
      • Tie the bottom of the fabric textile to the final horizontal fabric strip to create a loom structure.
      • Cut additional fabric stips to weave in and out of the loom structure.
      • Sew woven strips to the loom structure and edges of the sweater.
    • Patchwork circles as inspired by Tokyo Gamin and Creativity Explored artist Hung Kei Shiu
      • Cut circles of various sizes out of different fabric types. Look for unique pieces or labels to incorporate into your design.
      • Arrange circles ensuring that the total surface area matches the area cut out from the sweater.
      • Sew circles together.
      • Sew circles into the sweater.
    • Frayed edge

Creative prompts for more…  

  • How can this project be applied to other aspects of your life? If you have any old carpets, rugs, dish towels, etc. around they can be turned into new items!
  • Create a journal entry detailing your project journey. Writing down your process is helpful in formulating your thoughts and remembering for the next time.
  • Make an outfit for your pet out of old clothes!



Share your project! Post and tag #MCDatHome

*This template is proprietary property of the Museum of Craft and Design and shall not be reproduced for any reason outside of this organization.


Stay up to date on all things MCD!