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7 Steps for Keeping Garments and Household Textiles Out of the Landfill Tuesday, October 11 2022

Sustainability in sewing does not end when the garment or other project is completed.  With proper care a textile can last many years.  But for every well used textile there comes a time when there is a hole or a stain - what then?  Keep reading for some ideas on keeping those items functional and out of the landfill.

 Clothes drying on a clothesline


As mentioned in our previous blog A Guide to Washing Natural Fibers, the method used to wash and dry natural fiber projects can affect how long they last.  The life of a textile can be prolonged by washing items in cold water only when necessary, and hanging them to dry.

 Invisible Mending

Invisible Mending and Darning

A tear or a hole can often be mended using a matching thread or patch.  This mend will blend right in, especially from a distance.

 Visible Mending

Visible Mending

Visible mending is gaining in popularity.  These mends are meant to be seen, and add an artistic flair to the mended item.  Techniques can include applique, embroidery, and visible darning.  You might also add lace, ribbon, or rickrack to your mended area.  This technique can also be used to hide stains.



A garment or other textile that is stained can be rescued by dying it a darker color.  Fiber reactive and natural vegetable dyes work well on natural fibers.  Try a new dye technique, such as tie-dye or shibori.

 Fashion and home decor updates

Fashion Update

If you have a garment that is out of fashion or no longer fits the way you like it to, then try updating it.  This can be done by:

  • Adding or removing length
  • Changing the width using darts or inserts
  • Adding or removing design details, such as belts and collars
  • Adding a zipper or buttons

This can also be applied to updating home decorating textiles.  Try changing the length, adding some contrast trim, or moving items to another room for a fresh new look.

 Upcycling, reuse


If none of the above will work for your textile, then give upcycling a try!  Old bedding and garments can be turned into fabulous quilts, rag rugs, t-shirt yarn, clean up rags, stuffing materials for pet beds, and more.

 Recycle and Compost


If the textiles are no longer suitable for reuse, natural fiber textiles can be composted and recycled.  Natural fibers will break down in a compost pile or even when buried under a bush in the back yard!   Alternatively , the item can be donated to a facility that will recycle it, often turning it into insulation.


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