Upcycling: An Easy Way to Get Into Sewing - Sew My Place
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Upcycling: An Easy Way to Get Into Sewing

Do you have clothes that you don’t wear anymore? They aren’t damaged, and they even still fit. They just don’t interest you enough to want to wear them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could give new life to those neglected garments, turning them into clothes you’ll actually be excited to wear again?

Well, there is a way. It’s called upcycling.


What Is Upcycling?                            

With upcycling, you don’t throw away stuff you don’t use anymore. Instead, you update or transform it into something that you do use.

You can upcycle anything. Furniture. Dinnerware. School supplies. Old toys. Linens. Even old bottles and cans.

And, of course, you can upcycle clothing.

There are many ways to upcycle an old garment. And here are just a few of them.



Sometimes, looking old, warn and beat up is exactly what makes a garment stylish. If you want a garment to look “old and warn, but in a good way,” try distressing it. You can rip some old jeans in a few strategic places. You can run the jeans through the washing machine a few times on the highest possible setting to make them look even more beat up. Or, if you’re really serious about this, go outside and find some rocks to beat those jeans against. If nothing else, it will help you work out some of your aggressions.


Upcycle Without Sewing

One quick and easy way to give new life to a garment is to dye it a new color. Luckily, dying garments is much easier, and a lot less messy, than it used to be.

If you’re handy with an iron, you can use iron-ons to add stylish designs to those plain, boring t-shirts. And, if you’re artistic, you can use fabric pens to draw graffiti designs on an old dress or jacket.



No matter what your sewing skill, you can give an old garment new life by adding embellishments to it. Buttons, bows, trim, patches, beads, lace, fringe, jewels…You name it, you can add it. And there are embellishments you can add without sewing.


Making Alterations

One way to update old garments is to alter them in some way. These projects might take a little more sewing skill, but the results are often worth it.

You can change the neckline on a once-favorite shirt.

You can turn an old pair of jeans into shorts.

You can turn a t-shirt into a tank top or even (if the t-shirt is long enough) a mini-dress.


Turn Old Clothes into Something Else

The most drastic form of upcycling is to take one thing (like a dress) and turn it into something completely new. Like a pillow case, oven mitts, a tote bag, or even a piece of wall art.

If you’re just getting into sewing, or just like doing lots of little sewing projects, using old clothes is a money-saving alternative to buying fabric at the craft store. And, if you want to get a little ambitious, you can take the bits and scraps left over from your other upcycling projects, and use them to make a patch quilt.


There are lots of good reasons to start upcycling. But the biggest is that it’s just plain fun. Trying to think of ways to give it new life to old clothes is a surefire way to get your creative juices flowing.

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