With thrift shopping becoming more and more popular so is the hunt for unique pieces of clothing. Everyone wants to be different which is what makes thrifting so fun, you get to look for clothes that no one else has. With the popularity of thrifting and unique clothing becoming trendy comes the craft known as upcycling. To upcycle means to take old something and make it new and better. When you upcycle clothes you’re giving the clothing a new life by making it new, original, and fitting to your style. Upcycling is a really fun way to try out new fashion styles and it’s a great activity to do with friends. Why not upcycle a gift for your friend while you’re at it. Upcycling also ensures the clothing you wear is totally unique because you made it yourself.
Patches are a really easy way to upcycle your clothes. There are a lot of online stores that sell hundreds of patches in any style you can think of. Patches are also fairly affordable and easy to apply. Most patches are iron-on which means they can be ironed onto the clothing of your choice. If there isn’t an iron-on feature for the patches you could always sew or pin the patches on as well. Patches are usually used on jean jackets or denim jackets to add pops of color or character.
Just as there are iron-on patches you can make your own iron-on decals. You just need to purchase an iron-on printer paper and once you have that you’ll be able to print any design you want! It’s just as simple as ironing the decal onto a jacket or tee-shirt. This is a really good way to upcycle clothes because with a printable decal you can create your own designs online to print out! There are also pre-made decals that you can find online if you’re trying to recreate a certain look and are having trouble finding clothes that have the design you want. The goal of doing a clothing upcycle is to make sure the look is different than it was before you styled it! That’s decals are a really great way to get the clothes you want in the style you want them in.
This one is a little more complicated but simple nonetheless. Embroidery isn’t a hard skill to learn, it just takes patience and creativity. The only materials you’ll need are thread, a needle, and an embroidery hoop. There is a big trend in embroidering your own tee shirts and hats. Embroidery can be tricky but just take your time doing smaller designs and soon enough you’ll be working on masterpieces. It’s a great craft to learn to get your creative juices flowing and a great way to really change up your old clothes.
If you are like me you love collecting pins. I think they are just a really cute way to display art. If you’re also like me then you have more pins that you have no idea where to put them. This is a really simple trick for a quick upcycle. I like to put my pins together in themes and decorate my jackets and bags with them. You can add pins to the collar of your leather jacket or all along the front of your denim jacket. It’s a great way to flash some personality into your looks and doesn’t permanently change the clothing.
Fabric paint will be your best friend for this upcycle. You can paint whatever design you can imagine on your clothes. This technique is best used on denim clothes because the material is thick. You can easily thrift a denim jacket, jeans, or even overalls. One of my favorite things to paint on my jeans is minimalistic flowers. I think they add a really cute touch to my aesthetic and it’s a great way to personalize my clothes. Fabric paint is really affordable and a great way to add vibrant colors to your upcycling project.
There are so many different ways you can upcycle clothes just by knowing how to sew. A fun way to upcycle clothes is by sewing on some patches or fabric to jeans. The patchwork design is really unique and adds a rustic feel to your outfits. You can even get experimental and take apart the clothing to sew them back together into something new. An example of this would be taking two different shirts, cutting them in half, then sew them together with the opposite halves. It’s a really trendy new design that was popularized in Asian countries like Korea or Japan. It’s a really easy look to copy and it is a super fun and affordable way to upcycle.
Another easy way to upcycle some old or faded clothes is by dying them a new color. With tye-dye coming back as a new trend it’s a fun way to change up some old clothes. You can easily thrift a white shirt or light-colored shirt and go crazy tye dying them a bunch of different colors. You can also go through your closet and find some old faded clothes you might have and dye them a brand new color. There are easy tutorials online that you can follow to get a lot of different tye-dye designs.
The opposite of dying your clothes would be bleaching them. If you’ve ever seen acid-washed clothing this is a great way to get that look. Acid washed designs are a look that is totally back in style. Tutorials online are a great way to find different patterns for an acid-washed look. My favorite way to bleach clothes is to bleach black shirts because it adds this really unique orange design to the shirts. You can even acid wash a whole outfit to have a really cool complete look. Just make sure you look up online how to bleach clothes properly and safely.
Which of these are you going to try at home to upcycle your clothes? Have you already tried upcycling before? Let us know in the comments! Make sure to share with your friends so they can find out ways to change up their old clothes.
Hi, my name is Sara and I'm a 22-year-old college student in New York. I'm a corporate communications major excited and passionate about writing and art. When I graduate from Baruch College I hope to pursue my dream of getting a cosmetology license and hope to one day be working in the beauty industry.