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How To Upcycle Your Clothes For A New(ish) Wardrobe

by Toni Olukiran

3min read

You don’t need to be a master seamstress to rejuvenate your wardrobe. Here’s our guide to easy ways you can upcycle your clothing, with and without a sewing machine at your disposal. 

If you’re trying to shop more sustainably, being able to upcycle clothing is a truly valuable skill that can help save the planet and you some pennies. You can stay on trend without relying on fast fashion by using old or second-hand clothing , transforming them into chic and staple pieces with these easy hacks. 

Embroider your old clothes

Embroidering is a fantastic way of updating your wardrobe. Everything from that old pair of jeans to some plain tops can be embroidered to create a new distinctive piece in your wardrobe — and it isn’t hard to learn. Embroidery has found a new loyal following since lockdown, as it's a simple (and very calming, I may add) activity that minimises waste since you can use old clothes and materials to create your new favourite piece. You can find cool patterns for inspiration on Pinterest

Distress your denim

Distressed denim is quite consistently on-trend, be it ripped jeans that your mum frowns at,  or that slightly-scruffy look on jackets. With a pair of scissors, some sandpaper and an old denim item in the closet you haven’t worn in a while, you can get that distressed look for next to nothing.

Change the hemline

Raw hemlines are back in fashion, so if you’re tired of your straight-cut hemline, add some edge and distress your jeans. It’s super easy and only requires  some scissors and something with a sharp point to pick the fabric. Simply cut off the bottom of your jeans to your desired length, then take your needle or another instrument with a sharp edge and pick along the hem to distress it more, creating loose strands of denim for the classic look.

For those who do have a sewing machine, an easy way to change up the hemlines of tops and trousers is to add a lettuce hemline. Lettuce hemlines add a 90s/00s feel to clothes, which is of course, very in at the moment. There are plenty of tutorial videos on how to achieve this cute and easy look.

Cropping your clothes is another easy way to transform a piece of clothing and give it new life. Whether you don’t mind a raw edge or want to re-hem it after for a neat look, there are plenty of tutorials for this. 

Bleach and fabric dyes can be your friend

Tie-Dye made a reappearance this summer and is a quick and fun way to repurpose old clothes. If you’ve got light-coloured clothes with stains that won’t go away (paint, hair dye, bleach — you know the one) this is a great hack to make them wearable again. Look for dyes that dilute in the water to a safe level for both humans and animals, like Dylon. There are lots of tutorials on how to tie-dye using bleach or with fabric dye.

Add some patchwork or splice your garments

Another trend particularly big in the world of streetwear is patchwork and spliced clothing. If you’ve got two old t-shirts, why not cut them in half and mix the styles? And patchwork isn't limited to just quilts, so have a go sewing together different parts of old jeans together for a bold, on-trend look? The world is your oyster!

Have any other tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments!

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By Toni Olukiran
Toni Olukiran

Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.

Read more from Toni


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