DIY projects that upcycle clothing are both a fun and a more sustainable way to declutter. Lots of the DIYs out there can even been done without knowing how to sew! Read on to find out simple ways to clear out your closet and revamp your wardrobe, all without spending too much money or creating too much waste.
1) Sweater Leg Warmers
Sweaters unfortunately wear out pretty easy, and everyone has sweaters that are warped in some way. Thankfully, you can salvage at least part of your sweaters by turning them into leg warmers! These leg warmers can complete any winter outfit, and they especially go great with a tall pair of boots.
All you have to do is cut off the sweater’s sleeves right before the shoulder seam, and you will make a cozy knit tube you can layer on your legs or arms to stay warm. Be careful not to cut the sleeves too short though, otherwise they will look awkward; legwarmers are supposed to scrunch up a little bit. If you are good at sewing, you can also reuse the rest of the sweater by cutting out more long strips of fabric, and stitching them together to make more leg warmers or perhaps a scarf.
2) Upcycle Men’s Shirts
If you don’t have anything of your own to upcycle clothing, but are still itching for a craft project, or want to get some new clothes while maintaining your budget, then try raiding your brother/dad/boyfriend’s closets! Just don’t forget to ask first before taking something.
This one of the easiest ways to upcycle clothing, especially if you can’t sew. Just wear a belt on top of it, turning the shirt into a cute shirt dress or tunic top, depending on the length. The belt will cinch in the fabric around your waist, giving your body more shape and curve. Trying playing with rolling up the sleeves and doing or undoing the buttons to get a variety of looks, all from the same shirt!
3) Cut Up Your T-Shirts
We all have t-shirts we love but sadly can’t wear anymore for one reason or another. Luckily, all you need is a pair of scissors to follow these tips to upcycle your clothing into looking cool again!
One easy hack is to turn them into a racerback tank for working out. First, cut off the sleeves, neck, and bottom of the t-shirt, making sure no seams are left on. The cut a strip from the bottom, and use it to tie together the back of the shirt where the sleeves used to be to form the racerback look. Alternatively, you can also just crop t-shirts to upcycle them, or cut off the sleeves, the neck, the hem…the possibilities are endless!
4) Kimono From A Dress
If you have a dress that doesn’t fit anymore, especially if it’s too tight, then you can easily upcycle it by turning it into a kimono-style cardigan. Simply cut the dress straight up the middle from the bottom hem to the neckline, and voila, it’s that easy!
If the sleeves also don’t fit, you can cut them off too and turn the garment into more of a vest. And if you want to get creative, you can try adding trim along the line that you just cut to jazz it up a little bit.
5) Adding Trim And Lace
Adding any kind of trim in general is just a great way to upcycle clothing by adding a little bit of flair. It may require a bit of sewing, but there are also many washer-safe adhesives and iron-on notions out there as well. All it requires is some fabric trim; lace is the most common and versatile, but there are also many other cute choices to suit your taste.
Simply attach the trim to the hem of an existing garment to upcycle clothing into something much more exciting. This hack is especially useful for things that have become too short because it literally lengthens the garment by adding more fabric to the end, protecting you from accidentally exposing yourself. You can even add multiple layers of trim if you want.
6) Make Accents
This trick is kind of a double whammy. You can upcycle two items of clothing by cutting up one, and reusing the fabric to create accents on the other. For example, cutting up an old shirt and using it to make trim for the bottom of a dress. Or adding some flair to a pocket on a pair of pants.
This trick may require a bit of sewing, but you definitely don’t need a sewing machine, as you can do it all by hand. You can also use this hack for a whole bunch of garments by cutting up one piece of clothing and using it to add accents to a bunch of your other clothes. It’s kind of like making a mini collection!
7) Peter Pan Collar
If you have a button down shirt that doesn’t fit – or you want to raid your man’s closet again – you can upcycle clothing by simply removing the collar. Cut off the collar from the shirt, making sure to leave some extra fabric from the neck. Then attach that collar to a suitable dress or top to add a very sweet and girly touch.
You can also keep the collar separate and wear it with multiple pieces, almost like a necklace. Just don’t forget to curt off the extra fabric from the neck if you are doing this; you won’t need it because you’re no longer permanently attaching it to something else.
8) Embroidery & Embellishment
Like adding trims, embroidery and embellishment are also fun ways to upcycle clothing. These tips do require a bit of material, but it’s totally worth it! If you already love embroidery, then chances are you’ve already tried embroidering designs on your clothes. If you haven’t, then here’s your hint to start.
Even if you can’t embroider that well, you can add really cute and simple designs like flowers and hearts. Embroidery is also very practical when it comes to upcycling, because it can be used to fix holes and add style at the same time. Aside from embroidery, you can also decorate with other embellishments like iron-on patches to stylishly upcycle clothes and conveniently hide imperfections.
9) T-Shirt Tote Bag
Of course, t-shirts ripe with upcycling potential, and they are in abundance in everyone’s closets. One easy and especially practical way to upcycle a t-shirt is to turn it into a reusable bag. This way you can actually take things out of your closet or dresser instead of just restyling them.
To make a tote bag out of a t-shirt, you first need to cut off the sleeves and neck as usual. The sleeves will act as the handles, and the neck will be the top of the bag, so make it as big as you need. Next, cut up the bottom of the t-shirt into little vertical strips, like making fringe. Tie the pieces of fringe together, using a piece from both sides, to seal up the bottom of the bag.
10) T-Shirt Quilt
If you have a really big collection of t-shirts that are just taking up tons of space then you can make a whole quilt out of them! Although it’s not an accessory or a garment, a t-shirt quilt is a cute way to still upcycle clothing. It’s an especially good idea for high school or college t-shirts after graduating because it will be full of nostalgia.
This is a very ambitious project to take on by yourself, especially if you don’t know how to sew, so definitely ask friends and family for help. If you don’t want to do it yourself, there are actually services where you can send your t-shirts and they will make the quilt for you! Of course it costs money, but it’s still a super cute way to upcycle your old clothes.