Why upcycle clothes?
- Less clothes heading for the landfill is a good thing.
- Buying less clothes means saving money
- Upcycling can bring new life into old items of clothing.
- Upcycling is great when the fashion industry doesn’t cater to your body shape/gender/disability
- You can create unique items that reflect your style
Most of the upcycling tutorials and vids I’ve seen seem to run along these lines:
“Buy an ugly oversized garment, and then cut a pretty dress out of it!”
This kind of thing counts on the upcycler being thin, having access to sewing tools, and money to buy a garment in the first place.
Making new clothes from old & worn out clothes you already own is a better way to do things in my opinion.
You can use alternative fabric you may already have at home like:
Net curtains make a cheap source of lace or mesh
Fabric from broken umbrellas to make waterproof items
Tea towels, tablecloths.
I can’t or am unable to sew!
There are plenty of no-sew resources and tips to use. Fabric glue can withstand a washing machine, and hemming tape can work wonders on altered garments.
Anarchy in the UK!
Go for a late 70’s punk look and slap safety pins on everything you wear! And if your Priest/Rabbi/Imam gives you an odd look, don’t worry. I’ve got pics of them in a mosh-pit at a Poly Styrene concert back in 1979 before they found their calling! Blackmail is the accessory of the season!
Iron-on patches are your friend. And if you don’t own an iron, I’ve seen a YouTuber put her hair-straightener to good use. It was an ingenious way to get into awkward spaces on clothes.
Adding studs to clothes are another great no-sew way to revamp items. As a teenager, I would pin cheap costume jewellery earrings over my old jacket.
Are you a Hippie at heart?
A bleach solution is a cheap way to decorate clothes. If you carefully pour the bleach into an old squeeze bottle, you can be more accurate in your designs. A less hazardous way to upcycle your clothes with colour, is to use natural dyes. Beetroot will stain every light-coloured garment with ease. Wild flowers and acorns are just some things to try. And if you have money to spare, you can buy fabric pens, paints and dyes online or in most general and fabric shops.
Are you a poor fashionista?
Distressing denim and other cotton-based garments means your creations can look like designer pieces that cost a bucket load of money. I’ve seen Upcyclers use graters, scissors and knives to distress denim.
For a truly versatile garment, there are a zillion ways to use a scarf as an outfit.
Link to scarf video https://youtu.be/682n6XGAEHg
Make the leap into Upcycling!
T-shirts are a good way to begin, as they’re generally cheap, and the fabric doesn’t fray when cut.
Make a crop top from a regular t-shirt by simply cutting the garment in a straight line through both layers. Start at where your navel begins. If you want it shorter, cut another inch/2.5cm off. You can always remove more until you reach your desired length, but it’s a lot harder to add more fabric on if you chop off too much.
Once you feel more confident, try something else, from halter tops to waistcoats, all no-sew
A good example is below:
13 ways to upcycle a t-shirt: https://tinyurl.com/yama6448
T-shirts can also be made into no-sew cloth bags.
This link has a tutorial, as well as 38 other ideas!
Buying plus-size clothing in the UK is expensive, and the choice in the high street is limited at best. There are more online options every day, but you can’t try these on to see if they suit, unless you want to pay return fees if you don’t like it. Charity/thrift/second-hand shops are rarely our friends either. I’m a size UK24/US20/EUR52. In over thirty years of going to these shops, I’ve only found five items that fit me. But when you shop with the mindset of upcycling, charity shops suddenly look a whole lot more interesting.
Gender is a construct, and that goes double for upcycling. Go to the Women’s section and take flowy skirts and dresses that are too small, and cut them into manageable lengths of fabric to use in an upcycling project. Go to the Men’s section for smart outerwear, t-shirts and jumpers. Ties can be used for your own genderqueer looks.
Online articles for Fat thrifting and upcycling
https://tinyurl.com/yaxajpwx (in English & French)
DIY STYLE ON A DIME
Instagrammers Who have great upcycling posts
Pinterest is good for ideas, but is very skewed toward fashion for young, thin white women.