1. Know What to Salvage and What to Cut Up.Have success reworking one item? You don’t necessarily have to branch out. Stay there and see what else you can do within that framework. Henricks always thinks of any item as different pieces of fabric rather than a shirt, a skirt or a dress. That helps her to get inspiration. Another way to reimagine what you already have is looking at what something could be if it were a different type of garment. Do you love the fabric of a dress but hate the fit? Make it into a two-piece set with a tank top and skirt. Are you sick of your old jeans but they still fit well? Try sewing on a patch of fabric to the knee.
2. Start Simple.Halima Garrett has made wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. She became interested in upcycling due to her large collection of vintage clothing she's collected over the years. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett
3. Use Your Wardrobe as Inspiration.But if you’ve rescued a pre-1970s item from Goodwill’s bins and you want to preserve its original quality, it may be better to choose a different item to upcycle. The same goes for an item with sentimental value. Ask your mom — and yourself — before you cut up her old wedding dress. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
4. Look at Your Old Clothes as Parts of a Whole, not as a Single Garment.Ready to stop worrying about money? An upcycled garment often bears little resemblance to its former state. Take Colorado-based designer Maggie Henricks of Create Good Company. She crafts boyfriend skirts out of men’s dress shirts. With patterns ranging from plaid and polka dots to bright Hawaiian florals, Henricks’ designs make for an interesting cross between masculine and feminine fashion norms. If your normal inclination is to dejectedly sift through what you already have, it turns out that there is a better way — and it doesn’t involve buying anything new. Enter the world of upcycling.
Have you ever stared into the depths of your closet and thought: “I have absolutely nothing to wear?”
5. Youtube Tutorials are Your Friend.If an item has stains on the armpit or a hole that’s too big to mend, by all means, cut. Garrett has proven that it’s possible to upcycle old clothes without the skills of an advanced seamstress. The easiest way to dip your toes into upcycled clothing is by starting small. Try cutting a pair of pants into shorts or cutting a long-sleeve shirt into a short-sleeve T-shirt.
6. When Looking for Guidance, Be as Specific as Possible.The term ‘upcycling’ comes from the idea of recycling an old item, but with a twist. Upcycling is not just reusing something, but tweaking that item to make it better than before. Is there something in your closet that you absolutely love? Would you love to replicate it? That’s a great place to start when upcycling. Use the garment you love as a model for how you want another item to fit. Or if you like the color combination of an outfit, consider using that combination in an upcycled piece. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
7. When You Find Your Niche, Stick With it.Get the Penny Hoarder Daily Even though she calls her sewing skills “basic,” Garrett was able to make wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. In fact, her website boasts an entire lingerie collection — each reworked piece contains at least one vintage lingerie item.
If you’re working with vintage clothing or just old clothes in your closet, Garrett advises assessing what you’re cutting up before you take the scissors to your favorite jeans.