Introduction: Reclaiming Fabric With Old Clothes

You can easily reclaim old clothes by taking them apart for future projects and to help extend the life of these fibers. For those interested in garment making, taking apart clothing will help you understand how garments are constructed as well as sewing techniques that are being used on the interior of clothes that you normally cannot see. Seam ripping a garment is the least wasteful way of taking it apart as there is often panels of extra cloth on within the interior of seams that would be wasted if using scissors entirely.


Any old piece of clothing

Seam Ripper (Preferred)

Exacto Knife



Step 1: Locate the Seams

Locate the seams on the garment, they are usually in the middle of the garment where the front is joined to the back. Before you begin to seam rip you should start at the bottom where it is usually easier to get a smooth line of thread detached. If you do not own a seam ripper you can also use an exact knife or any small thin blade.

Step 2: Cut Using Seam Ripper

Staring from the bottom, use the seam ripper to just start removing the thread until you have created a separation within the panels of fabric. Keep going around any seams until no more seams are left.

Step 3: Build a Flow

Most garments have a long length where the seam ripper can just flow all the way up the thread line, similar to cutting wrapping paper when the scissors begin to glide. Building this flow will help you save time.

Step 4: Cuts Can Be Necessary

There are certain parts of garments where the sewer went back and forth on the sewing machine multiple times and this can create a difficult spot to get the seam ripper through as it is sewn so tightly together, in this situation cutting is necessary to continue. You can usually spot these places near the edges of the garment, keep this in mind when creating your own garments as you or someone else may want to take apart your creation in the future.

Step 5: Complete! Now You Have Reclaimed Fabric for Future Use

Now that all the seams have been removed you can easily use this reclaimed fabric for any future projects. Take the time to really study these patterns as each garment has its own unique patterning techniques in order to create it.

Step 6: Examples of Use

In today's new world, a useful use of reclaimed fabric is to make masks / face coverings as many people need them and you can use materials you already have!