Going through my daughter's closet the other day, weeding out all the clothes that were too small on her (to be saved should we ever have another girl), I came across a shirt of hers that was irreparably stained. Of course, through the years she's had lots of stained items of clothing. Usually I throw them away, but this shirt was a favorite of mine. It's white with a knitted watermelon on it. She wore it many times throughout the summer along with some cute red and green plaid shorts I found. I just couldn't throw away such a beautiful shirt, so I started thinking of things I could do to reuse it.
Start a quilt
I've considered doing this before. I have a couple of dresses of mine from when I was a baby. One has a few light stains on it and then other has some moth damage. I definitely do not want to throw them out after my grandmother saved them so long for me, so I've kept them and may start a quilt with them and add some of my daughter's clothing as time goes by. Even if you don't have any of your own clothing, you can still try this idea. Who knows, it might turn into a family heirloom! You could also do a quilt with just your child's things in it, and do one for each of your children. Sew in patches of old, stained, torn, or otherwise unwearable clothes. You could even include the stain or rip in your quilt if it has an interesting story behind it!
Add a part of it to a purse, book bag, or another item of clothing
This is what I've decided to do with the watermelon shirt. I'm going to cut out the knitted watermelon and save it to be sewn onto something else. Maybe I'll sew it onto a plain tote bag, or save it to sew on a book bag when my daughter starts school. Or I could get a plain white t-shirt and sew the watermelon on so my daughter can have another chance to wear it. This would also work well for clothing that has any sort of appliqus or embellishments. If you want to save part of an item of clothing that is just plain fabric, try cutting out a heart shape, flower shape, or any other shape and sewing it onto another item. You can make beautiful new items this way, especially if you combine pieces of fabric from several pieces of clothing.
Turn them into something else
If you can salvage big enough pieces of the ruined clothes, you can turn them into something else. Doll clothes are one idea. If you can cut out a square of fabric you can make a quick dress for a Barbie or t-shirt for a teddy bear. Another idea to try is making hair bows or ribbons to tie in your daughter's hair. If you can cut a long strip out of a prettily-patterned shirt or dress (try seeing if you can cut out a long strip along the circumference of the hem) you can then tie it into a tight bow and attach it to an alligator clip. If you can only save some small bits, try cutting out lots of little strips from several items of clothes that will match well together, and bundle up the strips, secure them together with string at the middle, and attach the bundled strips of clothes to an alligator clip or even a plain hair band. If you're really crafty, you could even sew a whole piece of clothing out of matching scraps of old clothes.