Ultimate Guide to Kids' Wearable Recycled Crafts

Crochet detail from colorful crocheted scarf.
Kids love to wear items they created, and reusing items will reduce waste and teach kids about recycling.
© iStockphoto.com/Joy Prescott

If you are looking for a fun and inexpensive way to entertain your kids, crafting can be a great place to start. Crafts give children an opportunity to express their creativity and to relax and decompress -- and to do so in a much more constructive way than by watching TV or playing video games [source: Roberts].

The key to cheap crafting is to choose projects that either use household items you want to get rid of or recycle materials you would normally throw away [source: Roberts]. There are plenty of craft ideas out there that use recycled items, and they can help you teach your kids about the importance of recycling and helping the environment, too [source: Make-Stuff].


Buttons and fabric from old clothing can be used for a variety of crafts, and there are numerous things you can create with a toilet-paper roll or some soft drink can tabs. Some of the best crafts for kids are those that they can wear afterward. From necklaces and earrings to tie-dye shirts and bags, the possibilities are seemingly endless, and the best part is that you can use recycled materials to make them all. If your budget is really tight, make a play date with a group of friends so that your child can socialize and share supplies at the same time.

Once you're ready to turn your trash into treasures, just clean out the house, round up the kids, and get crafting. Check out the next page for some ideas for recycled jewelry crafts that might help you get your creative juices flowing.


Recycled Jewelry Crafts for Kids

Making jewelry is a popular craft idea for most children who are about age 4 or older. Not only can jewelry crafts be a lot of fun to make, but your kids are likely to get a kick out of being able to model their designs for their family and friends. If you already have an assortment of beads at your disposal, your kids can make their own necklaces and bracelets using some old string or leftover ribbon. But there are a variety of other recycled materials that you can use from around your house to create some unique and eco-friendly jewelry.

For instance, you can make a bracelet out of your old toothbrush. All you have to do is remove the bristles with a pair of tweezers and then put the toothbrush into a pot of boiling water for about five minutes. Remove the toothbrush with a pair of tongs, bend it into the shape you want, and then place it around a mug until it cools completely [source: Kaboose]. Because of the high temperatures involved, you will probably have to do much of this part yourself, depending on your child's age. But once the bracelet has cooled, you kids can decorate it by gluing on beads, attaching ribbons, or adding any other kind of accessory they choose.


You can use some old ribbon and soft drink can tabs to make a choker necklace. Cut a piece of ribbon long enough to fit around the child's neck, and place a tab at one end. Knot the tab in place, making sure to leave enough loose ribbon so that you can tie the necklace around your child's neck when you're finished. Place another tab underneath the first one, and move it over slightly to the right so that it's covering up only the right half of the tab beneath it. Then, feed your ribbon up through the oval opening formed by the two overlapping tabs. Place another tab next to the first one, and feed the ribbon down through the next opening. The necklace should follow a two-layered alternating pattern that is similar to bricks on a fireplace. Continue adding tabs and feeding the ribbon until you reach the end of your necklace. Knot the last tab in place, and then repeat the process using a second piece of ribbon and looping it through the other holes of your tabs [source: ThriftyFun]. Because of the time and focus required, this craft may be better suited for older children.

Read the next page to learn about some recycled clothing craft ideas to share with your kids.


Recycled Clothing Crafts for Kids

Kids can grow so quickly that sometimes they can outgrow clothing before they've even had a chance to break it in. Donating old clothes or saving them as hand-me-downs is a great idea, but you can also use them for some creative craft projects, too.

For example, take those old pairs of jeans you keep hanging in your closet -- instead of saving them in the hopes that they will one day fit again, help your kids transform them into one-of-a-kind denim bags. Cut off the legs of the jeans and remove the hem from both legs. Use one of the legs to make your bag and the other leg to make your straps and decorations. Sew a line across the bottom of one leg, and use scissors to cut the fabric upwards to give the bottom of your bag a frayed look. Then, cut the other leg into strips and tie the strips together to make a strap. Sew both ends of the strap to your bag. Cut shapes out of the remaining fabric and sew them onto your bag to give it a personal touch [source: FamilyCorner].


Another twist on this idea is to make a bag out of the top part of the jeans instead. First, lay the jeans on a flat surface, cut off each leg, and then cut the remaining top part in half. Next, sew up the leg opening and the side, leaving the waistband as the bag's top opening. Then use remaining fabric from the leg to create a handle, and you have a denim bag complete with handy pockets on each side. If your kids aren't old enough to handle the stitching, have appliqués or other fabric they can attach to the purse to decorate it and make it their own.

Tie-dying is another fun activity that kids of all ages can enjoy. Find an old t-shirt or pair of socks and let your kids revamp them with their best tie-dye designs. Roll up the clothing using rubber bands, and wearing rubber gloves, have your kids dip the clothing into their favorite two or three colors. Unwrap the clothes to see the designs and then hang them up to dry [source: Ritdye].

To get more ideas and variations for wearable recycled crafts that kids can make, explore the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Family Corner.com. "Jean Leg Purse." 2009 (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.familycorner.com/dir/Family/Kids/Kids_Crafts/Wearable/
  • Kaboose. "Toothbrush Bracelets." (Accessed 1/20/10).http://crafts.kaboose.com/toothbrush-bracelets.html
  • Make-Stuff. "Make Every Day Earth Day." (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.make-stuff.com/recycling
  • Ritdye. "Basic Tie-Dye Instructions." (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.ritdye.com/Basic_Instructions.16.lasso
  • Roberts, Cynthia. "Crafting -- A Frugal Pastime." Creativity Portal. (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.creativity-portal.com/howto/artscrafts/crafts_frugal.html
  • ThriftyFun. "Pop Tab Necklace (Choker)." (Accessed 1/20/10).http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf77001598.tip.html