5 Fashion Upcycling Tutorials For The Ethical Fashionista

By Sam Wright

We’ve all done it: bought items of clothing that we kind of liked in the moment…but then they lost their charm, and we’ve parked those garments in the backs of our closets for ages.

Thankfully, fashion upcycling tutorials provide creative and sustainable solutions that allows conscious fashionistas to reinvent and revitalise not only old, unloved items of clothing, but also new, unworn garments that don’t quite suit their taste anymore. Think about it: how many times have you bought something and had it sit in your closet because the buttons aren’t quite right, or the length is just a bit off, or the fit isn’t perfect?

It’s time to take out those sad, unwanted clothes, and give them a second chance! We’ve turned to YouTube to help us transform unused items of clothing into beautiful pieces that will be worn for years to come – and no, you don’t even need to have a sewing machine to do this! 

1. Transform a Dress

Whether you’re adding new, on-trend flourishes to an old or out-of-season dress or you’re scrapping it for parts, it’s easier than you think to bring new life to a tea, cocktail, slip, shift or kaftan dress.

For example, if the dress is too short, you can add a strip of velvet, lace or satin at the hem. Too dull? Sew on a lace collar. Shortening the dress from a maxi to a midi (or even a mini) is super-easy, and you can also make a new top out of an old dress. All you need to do is find a decent YouTube video that will walk you through your desired change, step by step, like this one, that shows you how to  make a wide dress more fitted, below.

2. New Life for Old Jeans, 4 Ways


Denim is arguably the most versatile material out there, with a world of potential when it comes to recycling, reinventing and repurposing. Deconstructed denim is a trend that isn’t going anywhere, and it’s easier than you think to fray the knees or hems of a pair of jeans that are stuck in your closet because maybe their style isn’t as bang-on-trend as you’d like.

On the other hand, if you already have ripped denim jeans that are getting a bit tired, reform them with the addition of fabric insets – say, in lace, faux leather or a paler shade of denim. This extra layer adds new colour and texture to the piece, creating a unique, one-off item you’ll be proud to call your own.

Finally, frayed denim is a huge trend that we really love – and it’s easy to do, too! Just follow the tutorial, below.

3. Jazz Up a Jumper, 3 Ways

Have you ever inherited a sweater from your dad, and ex, brother or maybe just bought a sweater that seemed nice and slouchy at first, but later felt like pyjamas or something? Never fear! You can transform that jumper in myriad ways: cut off the sleeves. Make it into a cardigan. Sew accessories or patches onto it. And you can even make it into a ‘choker’ with a V-neck! Just watch this video below to see what I mean.

4. A Maxi Skirt Morphs Into A Top…And More!

Maybe once upon a time, you thought ethical fashion meant wearing hippie clothes. Like, long peasant skirts made from cotton, that are now stuck in the back of your closet. Well, drag that skirt out and get to work! You can do loads to transform it into different, more wearable items, like a crop top, shorts and more – just check out this DIY video below!

5. Old Tees, New Life: 4 Styles!

We all have a zillion tee shirts, am I right? We get them as free promotional items sometimes, or buy slogan tees to represent our university, workplace or college. Sure, you can wear old tees to the gym, or use them as pyjamas…but why not try to transform them into a newer, cooler item of clothing?


Chere Di Boscio
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3 thoughts on “5 Fashion Upcycling Tutorials For The Ethical Fashionista”

  1. I need to do this with some of my t-shirts for sure. Plus I’m still looking for what to do about my jeans with a hole in the upper thigh 😮

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