New Life for Old Pants – A Cute Upcycling Idea

Before I say anything, I need to credit my husband Jon with this recycling idea.  He had a vision, whereas, I had my eye on the trash can.

Teddy and Zelda

Anyway, about a week ago, Jon presented me with a pair of old twill pants with frayed cuffs and rips across the knees.  They were too far gone for even the best mending efforts.  As he tossed them to me, he said “maybe you can use them for some type of craft with the kids; I don’t know, maybe you can make a teddy bear and use the pocket buttons for eyes or something”.  The pants sat on my desk for a few days, and then I suggested to the kids that we try to make a teddy bear for my son out of Daddy’s old pants.  My daughter was the benefactress of my last project, so I thought it would be nice to make something for my son this time.  Well, he was fairly indifferent to the idea, but my daughter thought it would be really cool to make a doll.  So, off we went to create a cute rag doll out of an old, ripped pair of pants.

We used most of the usable fabric on the doll pictured above, but we did have just enough material left to make her cute little teddy bear companion.

More Teddy and Zelda

And, yes, we used the pocket button for Teddy’s eyes and nose.  I didn’t use a pattern for this doll.   I drew the pieces freehand directly onto the pant legs.  The dolls head and torso are one section, and each arm and leg are a separate piece so that her limbs have some movement.  Zelda, as I named her, is wearing a dress that I made using leftover cotton fabric from a baby quilt I made a few years ago.  Her hair is just basic craft felt.   I wanted to use acrylic paints to give her a more vibrant face, but my daughter insisted that we didn’t have that kind of time — dolly needs a face NOW, so I used a tube of purple puffy fabric paint to draw on a quick face (and belly button!).  Teddy’s scarf is made from scraps of a felted sweater blanket.

For those of you do a lot of sewing, I think making a rag doll without a pattern is a really fun way to go, especially when working with a very finite amount of fabric.  However, if you would like to try it with a pattern, here are some site with cute rag doll patterns from Make Cute Baby Stuff, Fluffy Land, Martha Stewart’s Bunny, and Martha Stewart’s Dolls, and  I also found the twill pant material was pretty easy to work with and lent itself well to a rag doll project.  Teddy probably would have liked a softer material to help give more curve to his ears.  They seemed to come out a little jagged.   My biggest piece of advice for you — if you decide to make your doll without a pattern, cut your pieces much wider than you want the finished item to be. For example, the unsewn arms and legs were almost twice as wide as they appear on the finished doll.  Between the seam allowance, turning, and stuffing, it is amazing how much the pieces ‘shrink up’.

Hanging Out

All Together

I really like how these upcycled toys came out and love having another fun use for old clothes!  I will definitely stash away any old pants that we have for our next rag doll project.

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