I Can’t Get Rid of That! How to Repurpose Sentimental Clothing

MANY of us are guilty: we allow worn out pieces to take up prime real estate in our closets. Whether it was clothing worn by a loved one, or it has ties to a special time in our lives, we are emotionally invested in material items. While I am unable to explore the deep psychology behind why we are attached to these things, I am here to offer repurposing solutions for the sentimental pieces we simply cannot get rid of.


As a Personal Stylist, I may have a more emotional attachment to clothing than most people. After my husband’s grandmother passed away in 2017, I carefully went through her sweaters, selecting the ones I wanted to keep based on how many coffee stains embellished them. I wanted to treasure her memory in the realest way possible: only storing the ones that she wore the most. They were pilling and laced with a yellow tinge of Virginia Slims smoke. The wound of her passing was too fresh last Christmas, so this past year I was ready to preserve them. I sent them to a store I’d found on Etsy, Teecycleshop. The owner, Cyndi, up-cycled five tops and sweaters into cozy pillows for our family members to snuggle. 

Grandma’s sweaters upon arrival from Teecycleshop

Jewelry & Pins

I love how Marang Studios converts ties and clothing into wearable art. Lapel pins, brooches, and necklaces are just a few of the items they design. If you’re storing a wedding gown or a piece that holds special meaning (and will never be worn again in the conventional way) consider having a remnant made into a delicate keepsake to wear around your neck or wrist. Layering necklaces are on trend this year, and what better way to wear them than adorned in a fabric significant to you?

Memory Bears

KuteByKelly is a sewist local to the Detroit area and has carved out her niche in the “something huggable” space. Her adorable teddy bears began popping up in my Facebook newsfeed a few years ago. I was immediately taken by her ability to maintain the integrity of public service uniforms and camouflage fabrics. Most recently, she shared a trio of bears expertly-crafted from a wedding gown to be gifted to new grandbabies. Her work is impeccable and worth the investment. 

Stuffed Animals, Quilts, and Bags

A few years ago, a beloved mom in our community passed away. A group of us enlisted the talents of The Patchwork Bear to repurpose several of her items as a gift to her young son and daughter. The Patchwork Bear is a clothing keepsake company that offers everything from puppy gift kits to memory quilts and T-shirt market bags. Imagine transferring all of those old high school shirts from the bowels of your closet to a tastefully designed and functional quilt! My personal favorite offering is the weekend duffle memory clothes bag.



CreativeHeartworks on Etsy offers one of the most creative keepsake ideas that I’ve found: aprons! This idea is particularly useful for those who have collared shirts in need of repurposing…or those who like to cook. I am not in either camp, so I hope this tip is useful for someone.



A follower on my Instagram recently shared a nugget of wisdom that I am choosing to live by this year: if it isn’t “hell yes,” then it is “hell no!” If you are holding onto pieces that are not being worn, regardless of the reason, perhaps it’s time to convert them to pieces that will be your “hell yes!” 



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