I am a crafter through and through. A good chunk of my spending money goes to new culinary tools and fun craft stuff that my daughters and I can do.
My mother, on the other hand, loves clothes. Twice a year, she goes through her closet and pretty much provides me with a new wardrobe.
Naturally, her style is a little different from mine so I want to tweak some of the outfits a little and here are some ways to upcycle old clothes for myself, kids, or even the men in our life.
Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes
1. Bleach It
Taking a black pair of leggings and a bleach pen and have a little fun. You can choose to do quite a bit, from the style of these pants to taking a stamp and adding a bleaching effect that makes lines, the pen is your oyster- have fun with it!
I may, or may not, be doing this later this week!
2. Winter Sweater Dress
Ten years ago, my husband bought me a sweater for Christmas and minus this year he has every year since. Several of them were sweater dresses and I love them. Sometimes, though, I am passed down a sweater that I don’t really like.
Up until now, it has gone in the Goodwill pile. But no more! The fact that I can take two sweaters and make them into a cute sweater dress that I can wear all winter long- I love it. For the full tutorial, check out The Renegade Seamstress.
3. Men’s T-shirt to Girl’s Dress
I love this. I have loved it since my girls were little. Add some tulle to the inside of the bottom part and you have a beautiful, fluffy dress that most little girls would love to wear.
To be honest, I might even be able to make this for my daughter who is ten using a shirt her father wears. To some extent, age may surprise you a bit. If you want to try it for yourself head over to Life is Beautiful and try the project out for yourself.
4. T-shirt with a Bow
If you are not very skilled with a sewing machine, this one is for you. It simply takes the ability to use scissors. Simple enough.
I love the fact that the ribbon allows you to scrunch up one side. Plus the colors are so cute together and the bow makes it extra girly. To see the full tutorial, check out the Wobisobi blogger page.
5. Embroidery Design
Picture from play-patch.com
I told you in advance that I love to spend money on crafty things. Almost five years ago I bought an embroidery machine. This design was one of the first things I made with it. I loved the “Stud Muffin looking for my Cupcake” design and had to have it.
If you know that you are going to upcycle old clothes a lot, or live in the south and like to have almost everything monogrammed, then spending the money on an embroidery machine is well worth it. I bought mine used for $400 and don’t regret the purchase at all.
6. Mismatch It All Together
Photo from Andy’s Summer Designs Etsy.
This is a lot of what I did when I first got into refashioning clothes. I did this more with little girl dresses. I would make a simple circle skirt for the bottom and use a cheaply bought new or possibly older (but now too short) t-shirt and add the bottom.
You can use fabric picked up from the store, which I did a lot and would customize to what the little girl liked, or clothes you already have lying around like Andy Summer did in the picture above.
7. Stretch out the Tank Top
I had to laugh a bit when I saw this one. For one reason, this is a tutorial from a Girl and her Glue Gun that you will probably always want to keep a sweater vest over anyways because the back looks a bit funny in my opinion.
Second, because I had to do this last year for a student of mine.
We had a competition that was a week away and we purchased him an extra large chef coat when he probably needed a two XL. So I did exactly what she shows in her tutorial, only with a chef coat.
It works in a pinch or if you, like her, don’t want to throw something away.
8. Sweater with Buttons
This is probably the best tutorial I have found for any post, ever. She makes it so simple for those of us who know how to sew but don’t know the proper terminology and stuff like that. I am self-taught, and this makes total sense to me.
Plus it’s super cuter, she says it’s super soft and she got the original sweater for super cheap. Isn’t that super? Sorry, I had to! The amazingly awesome tutorial can be found over at Sew Unique in CO.
9. Everyday Lounge Pants
I love the story behind these pants, her original purchase was for plain black pants that her husband called quitters because the people who wear them, in his opinion, have quit taking care of themselves. So she dawned them up and added the cute pocket and ribbon up top.
The fact that she went as far as to make them cute means that she’s the opposite of a quitter- and still gets to be comfortable, right?
To see the full tutorial, check out H is for Handmade.
I love, love, love my Cricut.
This is not something I purchased, surprisingly. My mother-in-law “upgraded” to a different brand (Brother, I think) and gave me her Cricut. It is not one of the newer ones, but still does a lot of fun stuff though I am looking forward to purchasing my own upgrade to an Air two next month.
Even with the older one, I have made T-shirts for my FCCLA organization last year. Many of the kids didn’t purchase a shirt because I told them that we were making our own but they were disappointed and many ordered some after they learned that it looked just as good as professionals’ and they got to pick their colors.
I chose the tutorial by Perisalou because it’s different and who don’t want to deck out their shoes? So cute!
11. Shorts without a Pattern
To this day I don’t know how I figured this out on my own but I did. Simply use a pair of pants or shorts that you love and use this as your pattern. I have used this for my girls and myself and it saves so much money.
It’s fairly simple and straightforward, but if you need help, Craftaholics Anonymous is here to get you started. Heck, they even show you how to add pockets. That’s important!
12. It’s in the Details
This is fairly simple to make as well and I love the little details. My favorite thing about the big sweater turned leggings sweater was the buttons. Likewise, I love the glitter on here as well; though, when I make it I plan to add multi-colored sequins.
The fairly simple tutorial can be found at Dream a Little Bigger.
13. Add a Pop of Color
How cute is this dress? The opposite of bleaching, the tulip brand paint has so many great ideas, from outlines of hearts to a black T-shirt with the silver sky to show a city skyline. They are all so creative and fun, if you want a paint idea, definitely visit the I Love to Create page!
14. Galaxy Shirt
You should have known this one was coming. What makes it super cool is that you are combining two of the techniques we’ve talked about already in this post. One, you are using paint to add color to the black shirt. Two, you are taking color away by adding bleach in the form of spray paint or blotching.
This summer I plan to do this with my daughters and then have a stargazing night!
The full tutorial can be found at eHow.
15. Sharpie and Alcohol
I’m excited about this one because I have done it before and can tell you that yes- this truly works. The idea was shown here, though we took it a step further.
We used toilet paper tubes and colored in our Mickey Mouses, and then dropped the alcohol on the shirts to go down the cardboard tubes. The girls had so much fun and my oldest daughter wore hers until it had holes and I forced her to stop wearing it!
16. Ugly Christmas Sweater
Okay, I get it. Ugly Christmas sweaters are not really supposed to be ugly. I’m not entirely sure how this is made but it was created by Refashion Nation. The snowman and polka dots are super cute and the buttons going down are- you guessed it- my favorite!
No matter what though, refashioning a sweater and turning it into a cute ugly sweater should be a piece of cake!
17. Sweater to Cardigan
Before I begin- I will teach you all something really cool. In the south, there are stores called Dirt Cheap popping up everywhere. That is where this sweater began its life. Or at least somewhere similar. Do you want to know how I know? Because the American Eagle tag has a black line through it.
If you can get to one of these stores- I highly recommend it. The stores purchase the leftovers by the semi-truck full and send the savings back to you. Typically they chose stores worth noticing- Target, American Eagle, Gap, etc… You have to dig a bit but it’s worth it!
Okay, back to the task at hand. This tutorial is great. The post can be found at Cheri’s I am Momma, Hear Me Roar site but it is a guest post by Delia from Delia Creates. At the time, Delia was pregnant so she needed some of her sweaters to by cardigans in order to wear them over her baby bump.
No matter if you have a baby bump or not, check this tutorial out- trust me!
18. Add Lace to Lengthen
There are so many of us out there who do not like short t-shirts or sweaters. Lace is one way to lengthen them, and it’s super easy to find out what length you want and gets lace in that size, then sew it into the shirt. She doesn’t sew the end, instead opts to end it on the side where the seam is so it is not as noticeable.
I like that we get to see the before and after. For the full details, check out Inspiration & Realization.
19. Heart Patches
When looking up ideas for this post, I keep coming across how to make elbow patches. I guess it is a simple, cute way to upcycle old clothes such as your sweater or long sleeve t-shirt and make it just a hint cuter. It also allows you to do as the model did here and change up the color of your pants without people questioning why they don’t match.
Listotic has thirty-three different ideas on their site to upcycle old clothes. So if I don’t give you enough inspiration, they might be able to help as well!
20. Onesie to T-shirt
My first thought here was an extension of the clothing’s life- for whatever reason you chose. Maybe you really like the onesie, maybe you are trying to save money, maybe both. But then I thought about two-year-olds and potty training. When you are potty training, it’s important to not have to unbutton those snaps and that is is the perfect reason to make a onesie a T-shirt. Plus I like the addition of the ruffles and extra flowers that ruffles and stuff did to upcycle old clothes. Tops!
Conclusion to Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes
No matter your reasoning for refashioning your clothes- I hope you have come up with some great ideas. If you want to expand that a bit further, check out our post on how to recycle old T-shirts specifically, and use the clothes for things like purses and pillows.
Either way, get out the thread and needle and have some fun! I can’t wait to see what you create as you upcycle old clothes.