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12 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes

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If you have old or outdated clothes in your closet, you have a few options for getting rid of them. You can sell them to a consignment shop or list them online, donate them to charity, or cling onto them under the false premise of wearing them again. Of course, the one option that many people don’t consider is upcycling. By upcycling clothes, you can give your clothes a new life without getting rid of your beloved pieces – why wouldn’t you do it?!

These upcycling tips are easy, even for those who have never picked up a sewing machine. Whether you’re low on time or you have an entire weekend, you can transform your old wardrobe into new works of wearable art!

12 Simple Ways To Upcycle Your Clothing

1. Iron-On Patches

This may seem obvious, but you can add flair to an old jacket by adding some patches to it. Try to include patches with similar themes and colors to make your jacket easier to wear with other pieces. Don’t be afraid to place a giant patch on the back!

2. Turn a Flannel into a Dress

If you have any oversized flannels that reach a couple of inches below your butt, turn them into strapless dresses. You won’t have to alter the shirt itself; you’ll just have to tie the sleeves around you properly. If you’re not convinced that your shirt is long enough, you can wear leggings underneath it.

3. Cut Old Jeans

If your favorite jeans have been stained beyond repair, simply cut them to create a pair of capris. To add some extra flair, fray the bottoms before wearing them. Even if you stood knee-deep in mud, you can still wear those pants!

4. Acid Washed T-Shirts

If you’ve ever dyed your hair at home, you likely have some T-shirts stained with bleach. Turn it into a look by spraying some more bleach on them. If your shirt comes out well enough, you can wear it to the beach or around town. You shouldn’t be able to tell where you originally stained the shirt!

5. Add Some Embroidery

Do your polo shirts need a facelift? Embroider a cute design on the pockets! Alternatively, you can fill the entire pocket with an embroidered pattern of your choice. Once you’re done, your polo shirt will stand out in a crowd of shirts that look way too similar. If you don’t have any polo shirts to alter, try using any shirt with pockets and a free surface to work with.

You could also add embroidery to denim shorts or pants. Choose a simple, yet fun pattern to put on the back pockets; then, use those colors to create a small design on a thigh. 

6. Create a Giant Patch

Do you have a T-shirt that you love, but just can’t wear anymore? Cut out a large square (preferably with a graphic in it) and sew it onto the back of a flannel or jacket. You can fray the edges a bit to add some depth to the patch, but it’ll still look great if you don’t. The result is an edgy, personal piece to wear to the store or a casual gathering.

7. Add More Fabric to Sweaters

You don’t need to donate sweaters that are too small on you! Instead, make them larger by adding more fabric. Choose a color or pattern that coordinates with the original top – if you’re trying to make it match, it’ll look a bit awkward. The result is a piece that’s inventive, creative, and mimics what you may find in a boutique. 

8. Add Lace to a Dress or Skirt

Even high-quality pieces can shrink in the dryer, making once perfect dresses too small to wear in public. Adding just a little bit of lace (or another fabric) to the bottom can keep the length appropriate without altering too much of the piece. This DIY fix is even easier with a skirt, since you don’t have to coordinate it with the top portion of a dress. 

9. Turn a Pullover into a Cardigan

Similarly, your lightweight sweaters may start to shrink after some time. Convert them into cardigans to create your next wardrobe staple! A basic, single-color pullover can easily be converted into outerwear for a business casual outfit, lunch with the in-laws, or even Easter Sunday. Make sure you wash the sweater once more before turning it into a cardigan – otherwise, it’ll only shrink more.

10. Decoupage Your Shoes

If you have a pair of shoes covered in scratches and scruffs, don’t throw them out! Instead, you can make them stand out with some patterned collage sheets and a bottle of Mod Podge. Try a floral pattern, plaid, or something wild and unheard of. The choice is yours! Just be sure to make color copies of your collage sheets.

11. Make a T-Shirt Larger

To make a T-shirt larger, simply cut down the sides and add a fabric panel. Since you’ll probably want to add a panel to both sides, cut your panels out to be half the width you want the total enlargement to be. For example, if you need to add 4 inches to your T-shirt, make each panel 2 inches wide. While you can use fabric that’s the same color as the original shirt, it looks so much cooler with a contrasting or coordinating pattern!

12. Add Lace to a Plain Shirt

This shirt upcycling hack is so simple, yet can add so much to a basic shirt. Just add some lace to a plain shirt. If you don’t have a T-shirt, you can still upcycle a plain blouse or tank top with this trick. The tutorial shows a somewhat thin piece of fabric being used, but you can even add lace to the entire top!

Upcycling your outdated wardrobe is fun, and it tends to be easy. After you’ve been inspired, head to your favorite craft store to get everything you need to update your attire. Even if a project looks complicated, you may surprise yourself with how well you can make your new outfits look!

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