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10 Ways to Upcycle a Garment

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

The University of York Sewing Society give us some tips on what to do with all those clothes you’re ignoring at the back of your wardrobe. 

Sewing Soc

“These will mean that you can create a truly unique piece whilst prolonging the garment’s life.”

The best way in which to breathe new life into an old garment sometimes takes a little know-how and some inspiration. Here are our favourite tips to change something old into something new…

1. For an old skirt, there are multiple ways in which to create a whole new look! These can be creating a pair of culottes, altering the length of the skirt or resizing to change the overall style. These will mean that you can create a truly unique piece whilst prolonging the garment’s life.

2. Feathers and fringing, is there anything else to say? You can revitalise a dull and drab garment by adding some feather embellishment or by cutting the hem into a fringe.

3. For an added touch of crafting to your upcycling, try using fabric paint to add a new pattern to your jeans!

4. One of the simplest and best ways in which to transform a garment is with darts (folds, which are sewn into fabric). These allow you to reshape a garment, meaning that any ill-fitting pieces can be made bespoke to your shape.

5. As a society, we love to add embellishment and embroidery to any garments that we want to breathe new life into. Be it something sparkly, lacy or a little cross-stitch, this tip can truly add new joy to an old favourite.

Sewing Soc

A rehemmed skirt

1. If you are feeling creative you can make a whole new accessory! Out treasurer Rachael’s favourite tutorial is a jean bag. Her best tip is to use a belt for the strap to make it adjustable as well.

2. To add an extra little pattern to a piece, add an insert of a different fabric. This could be a godet in a skirt or a pocket on a t-shirt. Either way it revitalises a piece of clothing.

3. A wonderful way to save any clothing that no longer fits or has been shrunk in the wash, for example, is to make them into something else for others. Whether that be a sock monkey, bunting or cushions made from t-shirts – this can be the perfect green gift.

4. Go old school and tie-dye! It’s something we all did at school and it’s time to bring it back. So find a fun colour and a few rubber bands and you’re away.

5. Utilise the scraps of your creations and sew a scrunchie. One of the most popular tutorials that we have had this year, this is a wonderful way of making a new accessory from the smallest amount of waste – it truly is a no-waste make!

These are just some of our top tips for upcycling. There are so many possibilities available – what can you guys think of?

Follow SewSoc on Instagram or Twitter to find out more about what they do and impress your friends with how crafty you are. 

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