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Upcycling Old Clothes: 10 Creative and Trendy Sewing Projects to Refresh Your Wardrobe

Transforming old clothes into new styles is a budget-friendly, environmentally healthy way to breathe new life into your closet. With upcycling, you can give your outfits a personal touch and enjoy brand-new looks — without setting foot inside a clothing store.

Try these 10 creative sewing projects to refresh your wardrobe:

1. Break Out the Dye

You probably made tie-dyed T-shirts at some point in your past, whether at a summer camp or in one of your extracurricular activities at school. Why not give it a try as an adult?

White or light-colored cotton shirts work best for tie-dying. While this project may not necessarily call for any sewing, it’s a quick and easy way to refresh your clothes, and it makes for a fun activity to try with your children.

If you’re concerned about environmental impact, you can try all-natural dyes or even make your own out of carrots, purple cabbage, or rose petals. Just make sure you have a plastic barrier if you’re going to work with dye indoors.

2. Transform Jeans Into Shorts

Transforming your jeans into shorts can allow you not only to find a new use for your jeans but also to create the exact pair of shorts you want.

You’ll need to first determine how long you want your shorts to be. Make sure to also avoid cutting the pockets. If you like the frayed look, you can leave the shorts as-is after cutting, or you can hem the legs to give the shorts a more polished look. You can also distress them more! Use sandpaper to add realistic-looking scuff marks.

3. Make Your Jeans Into a Skirt

You can also make trendy skirts out of your jeans with a seam ripper and thread in your preferred color. Cut the legs longer than you want the skirt — about two inches longer. Then, use the seam ripper to remove the seams holding the legs together.

Cut the inseam as close to the seam as possible. Overlap the crotch and back seams so that the whole piece lies flat, and sew the gap shut. Hem the bottom, and you’ve got a skirt!

4, Opt for a Patchwork Shirt or Pants

Who doesn’t love quilts? You can capture the cozy look and feel of a quilt with patchwork clothing. Gather any old clothes that you think you can cut square scraps from. Using your favorite shirt or pants pattern, you can sew these squares together to make an entirely new piece of clothing.

5. Practice Your Embroidery

Embroidering your favorite patterns or images onto your clothes can give your whole outfit a look that is uniquely you. Use embroidery hoops and stencils to add brightly colored flower patterns or other shapes and images.

6. Create Your Own Cardigan

Need a new cardigan? Look no further than your old sweaters. Cut down the center of the front of an old sweater and sew on buttons to give it an instant makeover. You can also do the same with an old sweatshirt by adding a zipper in place of the buttons.

7. Make Old T-Shirts New Again

An old T-shirt is a blank slate of possibility. Instead of tossing it, turn it into a sleeveless tee by popping the stitches from the sleeves and giving them a slight hem. You can also mix and match colors from several tees and swap the sleeves! Iron on new graphics, embroider interesting patterns or distress them in compelling ways.

8. Sew on Cool Patches

Patches not only cover up holes, but they also display personality. A band patch on an old denim jacket gives it a cool, vintage punk or metal look. Alternatively, paisley patches on jeans can make your outfit country-chic. Patches are an instant way to make old clothes vibrant and fun.

9. Turn Tired Clothing Into Fashionable Bags

Not all clothing can be saved, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful. If your favorite shirt has holes, faded colors, and overall wear, you can repurpose the fabric to create a cool tote bag by cutting out a bag shape and sewing the opening at the bottom to create an enclosed pouch.

Reinforce the handles or the mouth of the bag with interfacing if you feel it needs more structure.

10. Make a Pillow

Your clothes can continue to live on in other ways, too. Pillow patterns and forms are simple, and stuffing is inexpensive. You can create patchwork patterns by cutting out squares or just using a shirt or dress fabric as is. Pillows can be super simple or incredibly complex, depending on how much imagination you want to pour into them.

Find All Your Upcycling Supplies at GoldStar Tool

Sewing projects require supplies and tools, and you can find everything you need to turn old clothes into works of art at GoldStar Tool! For more upcycling tips or to find the best supplies for your projects, contact us today.