Plenty of ultra-hip and high-end fashion houses upcycle clothing to give garments new life, including Reformation, Elvis & Kresse and ASOS Reclaimed Vintage. When you do the cutting, sewing and embellishing yourself, you’ll be embracing an eco-friendly hobby which allows you to showcase your personal style. Upcycling is a great way to display more fashion personality. You don’t need any serious skills to get started: you just need a vision for an upcycled garment. Whether you prefer a retro aesthetic or lean towards the avant-garde (or anything in between), you’ll find that upcycling is an affordable and fun way to get the look.
How to get started
Sort through your old clothes or go thrifting to find cheap designs that may be upcycled. Another option is to host a clothing swap with friends and family. However you get the garments that you plan to upcycle, you should make sure that they’ve been washed and dried before you begin. When clothes are fresh and clean, it will be time for a Project Runway-style moment. Consider yourself a fashion designer who’s embarking on a design challenge. How will you change the older garment to make it new and stylish? You should sketch out a concept on a piece of paper. Try to find a concept that matches your skill level, as doing so will boost the odds of a successful result.
The project should match your skill level
A beginner might decide to add retro glamour by affixing acrylic, glass or crystal rhinestones to a jean jacket or old pair of jeans. Rhinestones may be added with glue, so no sewing is required. Special glues for fabric are available, which hold rhinestones firmly in place. Sew-on rhinestones are also available in the marketplace: you can find them at fabric and craft stores, both online and offline.
Someone who knows a bit about sewing might want to alter the hem of an older skirt or add embellishments to the piece, such as buttons, patchwork details or ribbons, by using a needle and thread, rather than a sewing machine. An expert sewer, or someone who’s interested in sewing and wants more professional results, may want to use a sewing machine to resew deconstructed garments into fascinating new shapes. This is what the chic fashion houses that upcycle do to get the high fashion look.
Pick the right sewing machine
There are the host of sewing machine types, but if you want to buy a new sewing machine, a computerized design that is ideal for newbies should work well. A lot of modern sewing machines are very user-friendly, despite their high-tech features. Advanced users may want sewing machines with special features, such as machines for embroidery or machines that sew leather, which is hardy, durable and tougher to sew through than softer materials like cotton and linen.
Tailor your approach to how much energy, time and skill you have. What’s most important is just to have fun with it and get creative. It’s best to begin with an older garment that doesn’t hold a lot of sentimental value, just in case a project doesn’t work and the older garment is damaged in the process.
Upcycling is hot right now, and it’s kind to the planet too. When you start upcycling, you may even be tempted to show off your projects online. You might end up dazzling the world with your design talent. Who knows where your inventiveness might take you?