Monday, August 29, 2011


Remember the 3 R’s of being Earth–friendly. Well, RECYCLING (to a charity) and REUSING (giving it to a family member or friend) are the usual ways to deal with clothing items that we no longer want. The 3rd R - REPURPOSING - is probably less done but, in my opinion, a whole lot more fun. REPURPOSING means using your creative powers to modify something so that it can be used again in a new way. One item that you might not think of repurposing are those old stretch pants. Even if the pants, after many washings, no longer fit well around the waist, and have lost their original color, they can still have a new life. And, with just a little work, you can use almost every square inch of your old stretch pants to make shorts (or capris) and some headbands - that stay put on your head.

My inspiration
I had some old black stretch pants that suffered from a numbers of problems. They were slightly discolored and the waist was loose from too many washings. They also had a rip on the leg at the level of the knee. One day a few months ago, I decided that I could best reuse my old pants by making some Bermuda shorts. And I did that simply by taking scissors and cutting off the pants. At first, I didn’t even bother to make a hem. I just turned up the legs a couple of times. The fold created the “hemline.” Then, I made a drawstring for my shorts by pulling a ribbon through the doubled material of the waistband. The new shorts made a good addition to my summer wardrobe. I wear them to do housework. I also put them on under a skirt as more modest attire when I do weeding in the yard.

After making the shorts, I still had the material from the legs. I cut the remaining cloth into four bands that, at first, I thought I’d use as dust rags. Then, after a few days, I thought again. I retrieved the bands from the rag bag and tried one on my head. It was just the right size to work as a headband. I had material enough to make six.  I find many reasons to wear my headbands, like when I wash my face in the morning and right after shampooing my hair to keep the wet hair out of my face. They are also just wide enough to keep my ears warm when the house is drafty. I was really glad to find this way to fashion my own headbands. This “saves” me from the temptation to buy those cheap, imported things that never seem to fit right anyway. While the headbands I made are not necessarily things of great beauty, they're certainly practical for home use and sturdy enough to last for years

How-to-repurpose your stretch pants

Stretch pants (those that you've had a while or a "new purchase" from the thrift store)
About 2 yards of ribbon or cord.
A few yards of left over yarn (It’s best if it’s two ply, either cotton or polyester. Can be doubled with 2 contrasting colors.)
Small gauge crochet hook

Making the shorts is a no-brainer. Just try on the pants and mark where you want them to reach on the leg. Add about five inches more for the folds that you'll make for the hem. Take a marker and draw a line on both legs where they should be cut. Make the cuts carefully. Double up the bottom edge of the legs twice and make a couple of visible marks to where you want the new edge to be. Then sew the fold at the top and make a few more stitches along the side seams. 

If the waist is too wide, you can make a drawstring by pulling a ribbon or cord through the doubled part of the waistband. Make two slits in the waistband front to slip the drawstring through. (I use a big safety pin attached to one end of the drawstring to help in this process.) If the waistband has seams on the sides, it may be easier to make additional holes and go around the seams - rather than through. (That’s what I did. Opening up the seams and then figuring out how to close them again correctly would have been the alternative – but a lot more work. I decided it wasn’t worth it for the kind of use I had for the shorts.)

Use the leftover stretchy fabric from the legs of the pants to make two or more headbands. The stretchiness of the fabric makes it just about right for a one-size fits all headband. Just make 5 to 7-inch cuts for each of the bands, depending on the width that you want. Then fold the bands in half. Try on the headband on. If you see that the one-size doesn't work for you, then cut the band to the size you need and sew it together again in a tube shape.

No hemming stitches need to be done. Simply make a decorative crochet edging to join the two rough edges of the band together. Do this by crocheting a simple blanket stitch all around. An extra chain between the stitches will give it a little more stretch. (And, for those who shrink at the prospect of crocheting, an alternative decorative edge for the band could be turning the rough edges in and sewing on some little buttons to hold the "hem" in place.)

Related posts

No comments: