Bored with your wardrobe? You can create a whole new one with these 5 fashion upcycling tutorials!
By Chere Di Boscio
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. And that’s a shame.
Fashion is a truly wasteful industry
Thanks to the cheaper costs of fast fashion brands, the average consumer is buying more clothes, wearing them less, and creating more waste.
As if that’s not bad enough, inefficient manufacturing practices mean that clothing ends end up on the cutting room floor, rather than being recycled.
- Between 1975 and 2018, global per-capita textile production increased from 5.9 kg per person to 13kg per person.
- Globally, we consume 62 million tonnes of textiles per year. By 2030, this is expected to reach 102 million tonnes.
- Because people are buying more new clothes, they are using them less. The average piece of clothing is worn 36% fewer times now than it was 15 years ago. This is most extreme in Western countries, such as the US, but China is catching up. In China, clothing utilization has decreased by 70% over the last 15 years.
- The fast fashion trend means clothing brands are now producing almost twice as many clothing collections per year than they were before 2000.
- By throwing away clothes prematurely, customers miss out on $460 billion of value every year. That’s almost $60 per person.
- The average American consumer purchases one new item of clothing every 5.5 days. That’s 5.5 items of clothing per month, or 66 items per year.
- Polyester, a synthetic textile, accounts for 51% of textiles produced – that’s 54 million tonnes. Cotton is second with 25% at 26 million tonnes (2017).
- Some studies estimate textile waste during manufacturing as high as 25%. Other studies estimate 15% of materials end up on the cutting room floor.
One solution to fashion waste
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!
5 Awesome Fashion Upcycling Tutorials
1. Transform a Dress
This is one of those fashion upcycling tutorials that we all need right now, since hemlines are changing this summer (for the shorter).
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. This one below shows you how to make a wide dress more fitted, below.
2. New Life for Old Jeans, 4 Ways
Denim is a wardrobe staple. It’s also 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. It’s easier than you think to fray the 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, cropped denim is a huge trend that we really love – and it’s easy to do, too! Just follow the video below. It’s one of the easiest fashion upcycling tutorials!
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?
Yes? Never fear! We’ve got one of the best fashion upcycling tutorials for you.
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!
In fact, maxi dresses and skirts were all the rage for quite awhile. But now, minis are back with a bang! Still got loads of maxi styles in your closet? Don’t toss them out! You can do loads to transform them into different, more wearable items. For example? They can be turned into a crop top, shorts, mini skirt and more. Just check out this DIY video below!
5. Old Tees, New Life: 4 Styles!
This is one of the most essential of all the fashion upcycling tutorials! Why? Well, because 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?
This video gives you four new possibilities to give an old tee a new life.