Upcycling: A New Way to Shop

If you’re anything like me (and I know you are), you’ve got hangers of clothes in your closet that probably haven’t seen rotation since 2005. Rather than get rid of some potential gems, recreate them into wearable pieces by upcycling.

If you’re anything like me (and I know you are), you’ve got hangers of clothes in your closet that probably haven’t seen rotation since 2005. You’re desperately hoping that the clothes draping from those forlorn plastic (please tell me they aren’t wire) hangers will come back into fashion. Isn’t that what happens? Everything old is new again? While that may certainly be true in some cases, I’m hoping bubble dresses never see the light of day again. Most of the clothing in your closet that you don’t wear now, probably never will get worn again unless you give it new life or pass it on to someone who cares.

Deconstructing and revamping items in one’s closet has become a culture in itself. The blogs, books, and videos outlining how to do-it-yourself seem to be multiplying by the day. Whether you know how to sew or are more likely to sew your fingers together than any fabric, you can either take a chance on a DIY project or send your collectables to a tailor. One is light on your pocketbook; the other can be rather costly. Take your pick.

Here’s a little guide to get thrifty and get upcycling…

Easy Peasy

  • Everybody has a yellowed or stained white t-shirt hidden in a drawer. There’s no rhyme or reason why we would keep such a shirt, but we do. Give them new colour by dunking them in dye. Experiment with tie-dye (go for less psychedelic, more fashion) or give them one solid new colour.
  • Long peasant skirts with an elasticated waist make for short flirty dresses. Yank those skirts up a little higher to cover your chest and cinch at the waist with a belt. Voila! New outfit.

Getting Craftier

  • Another easy t-shirt transformation is to give them a little snip. If you no longer care for a neckline, chop a new one or create a daring dip down the back. Too hot for sleeves? Cut them off. If you’re really daring and dextrous with thread, separate seams only to join together again with lace or buttons.

Mad Skills

  • Once you get more experienced with a sewing machine, turn a pair of jeans into a skirt by cutting the crotch seam and re-sewing it into a skirt shape. Or go the easy route and do what you did when you were a teenager – make cut-off shorts.
  • Dresses that don’t tickle your fancy anymore can be snipped into skirts. This gets a bit trickier as you’ll most likely need to create a waistband. Take a look at skirts you already own or find a sewing website to get some ideas. Hint: paper bag style skirts are a great place to start.

Upcycling doesn’t have to just happen in your own closet. Once you’ve got your eye trained to discovering a garment’s potential, troll vintage and consignment stores to find clothes that could be redesigned for pennies.

Photo taken by Flickr Photographer Saxarocks - licensed under the Creative Commons license.