Sewists love to upcycle clothing. Why? There are a million and one reasons, but the main ones are simple: it reduces the environmental impact, it’s super fun, and we love to sew! It’s a perfect fit! (Pun totally intended.) Oh, and you end up with a piece of clothing that is original and interesting. That is the best part!
So, What Is Upcycling?
Upcycling clothing is the process of taking old or unused clothing items and transforming them into something new and improved. This sustainable practice has become increasingly popular in recent years as people look for ways to reduce their environmental impact and make use of existing resources.
The Perks to Upcycling
- Upcycling clothing reduces waste by keeping clothes out of landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw away over 11 million tons of clothing and textiles each year, and the vast majority of this ends up in landfills where it takes years to decompose.
2. Another great perk, upcycling clothing can save money by repurposing items you already own instead of buying new ones.
3. It can also be a fun and creative way to express your personal style and add unique pieces to your wardrobe. Do you love to personalize your clothing? Who doesn’t?
4. You can make money doing it. Upcycle a vintage jacket or practically any vintage clothing and sell it on etsy. Some items go for hundreds of dollars each. Can you say “side hustle?”
Where Do I Start?
Start in your own closet! What do you have that you’re not wearing any longer? How can you change it into something useful? Either another clothing idea or maybe something for your home, like a pillowcase or quilt. Perhaps you could upcycle it into a gift for someone else? After you go through your own closet, check your partner’s closet or your kids’ closets. Resale shops are also a great place to find clothing in desperate need of being upcycled. Find a crazy sequined blazer that no one this side of 1995 is going to wear? Cut it up and use it to make a fidget quilt for a dementia patient. The ideas are endless!
How to Upcycle Clothing
So how does one go about upcycling clothing? There are many ways to get started, but here are a few ideas to consider:
Add embellishments: One simple way to upcycle clothing is to add embellishments like patches, embroidery, or appliques. This can add interest to an otherwise plain piece and give it a new lease on life. Who doesn’t love a little bit of personalization? You know that fancy trim you bought but never used? Add it to a hemline or to shirt sleeves! It makes a fun “new” piece for your wardrobe.
Repurpose fabrics: Another option is to take apart old clothing items and repurpose the fabric for something new. For example, you could turn an old t-shirt into a tote bag, or use the fabric from a dress to make a new skirt. Other ideas: Buy a big men’s t-shirt and take it in to make a dress or a smaller fitted t-shirt. Buy old tablecloths and make a quilt.
Combine pieces: You can also combine different clothing items to create something new. For example, you could cut up two old t-shirts and sew them together to make a new top, or combine the top of one dress with the bottom of another to create a unique look.
Dye or bleach: Finally, you can give old clothing items a fresh new look by dyeing or bleaching them. This can be a fun way to experiment with color and create something that feels new and exciting.
So next time you’re thinking about throwing away an old clothing item, consider upcycling it instead – you might be surprised at what you can create!