7 Easy Items to Upcycle into On Trend Pieces

Try these 7 easy projects for updating your clothes and using old things from your closet. Find tips at the end of the post for how to make your projects go well.

What if we could reuse our old clothes by turning them into something cute?  

That’s where upcycling comes in. Upcycling is altering pre-worn clothing in a way that increases its value. That could mean you’ll just wear it more often, or it could mean you can actually sell it for more money than it’s worth. 

There are tons of easy Tiktok DIY upcycling trends that have inspired many people to experiment with altering or improving their old clothes. But fashion designers are also adding upcycling into their collections.

Upcycling also helps the textile waste problem. 700,000 million tons of used clothing gets exported overseas each year. The rest is either recycled (2.5 million tons), incinerated (3 million tons) or thrown away in landfills (10 million tons). 

Here are some great projects to start with. 

Cutting sweatpants for cropped upcycled shorts

7 easy ways to upcycle your clothes 

Cropped hoodie and shorts matching set

This design turns a regular hoodie and sweatpants combo into a cute matching set. Cropping is a great way to update any piece of clothing, but it can also lead to lots of scrap fabric. Save your scraps and make small pieces with them: face masks, scrunchies, cleaning rags, letter patches or headbands. 

Bleach tie dye

Check out this post we wrote about tie dying a t-shirt with bleach. You can also tie dye socks, pants, underwear, tote bags or bandanas with bleach to update your old things. 

Iron-on silkscreen print for t-shirts

With a printer, transfer paper, parchment paper and an iron, you can easily add an image, word or fake logo to your clothing. This works especially well on t-shirt fabric. Check out how to do it in this video, starting at 8:29. 

Add words to your clothes

You can either paint words with stencils, use store-bought letter patches, homemade letter patches or iron-on words with printed transfer paper. 

Cinched skirt with safety pin

Do have one of those lightweight skirts that fall below the knee? If you’re bored with it, try lifting the side of your skirt into a bunch and securing it with a safety pin. Check out how to do it in this video at 10:15. 

Shoulder pad t-shirt

Shoulder pad t-shirts are on trend right now. Don’t buy these when you can make them at home! Use an old t-shirt and scraps. Here are the instructions.  

Sashiko mending 

Proudly wearing your repairs and keeping them visible is a great way to support sustainable fashion. The Japanese stitching technique of sashiko mending is a unique way to display decorative repairs. 

Patchwork button-ups or jackets

Combine two jackets or shirts into one. Add length with a contrasting pattern by sewing on the bottom of another shirt you love. Here’s a great tutorial for this. 

 sewing machine for upcycling clothing

How to make upcycled clothing turn out right

Upcycling can seem scary, because it involves cutting and actually changing a piece of clothing. If you’re like me, you might worry it’s not going to turn out right. Here are some ways to avoid mistakes: 

  • Use something with a straight edge and a pen to help you draw guiding lines on the fabric and cut straight. 
  • Work on a clean hard surface like the floor or a table (not a couch). 
  • Iron your seams first before gluing or sewing them. 
  • For crop tops or cutting shorts, cut slightly lower than you think you’ll wear the piece, just in case. You can always adjust it later. 
  • Use clothes that fit you well to make patterns.
  • Save your fabric scraps for making new pieces or adding patchwork details. 

What's your favorite upcycling projects? Tell us in the comments. 

Goodfair sells clothes in themed surprise bundles, which gives you extra chances to find something you love. But if you get something you don’t like, you can either return it, give it away as a gift, or upcycle it.   


Article written by Erica Eller


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