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How to upcycle old clothes into new looks

upcycle old clothes

Why buy new clothes or fabrics when you have an abundance of clothes that can be upcycled into new ones or other uses? Our article outlines ways to upcycle old clothes into new looks.

Not only DIY fans, but also the world’s top fashion labels prefer sustainable fabric recycling, create “new” designs and give old clothes a second life! So it is worth collecting the sorted parts and handing them over to fashion stores, donating, exchanging and selling them on the Internet or at the flea market, or getting creative yourself at home and creating new styles!

Even the smallest changes in clothing can have a great impact and do not require any great prior knowledge in the field of sewing and design! Let yourself be inspired by our 7 tips for your DIY fashion projects to upcycle old clothes!

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Ideas to upcycle old clothes

Pimp your jeans!

Our jeans usually accompany us for several years to a lifetime. If you don’t like it anymore, it doesn’t mean that it has to be disposed of. We have a few great ideas for you on how you can easily and stylishly refresh your favorite pants!

Turn your old T-shirt into a bag without sewing  

Make a practical tote bag from an old T-shirt in a few minutes? The shirts are simply too good to be thrown away, but you don’t want to put them on anymore… So how about a DIY bag made of the fabrics as a way to upcycle old clothes? For this you need:

  • An old t-shirt
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • pencil

How it works:

  • First you cut off the collar, the sleeves and the bottom cuff of the shirt. If you cut the collar further, the opening of the bag will also be wider afterwards.
  • Then you put the ruler on the lower waist of the shirt, take the pen and draw a line across the shirt with a width of 10 cm on the front and back. Subdivide this strip with your pencil into approx. 2 cm wide strips.
  • Then you cut along the vertical pencil lines, so that even fringes are created.
  • You pull these fabric fringes individually until they curl up so that the fabric cannot pull threads.
  • At the end you just have to pull the opposite bands together with a double knot and your stylish, individual bag is ready!
  • Now you can decorate, label or color your new carrier bag as you wish – and off you go to the supermarket!

Recycling: make new from old!

Denim is a popular, robust cotton fabric! It would be a shame to just throw it away. You can conjure up great, practical items from old denim fabrics, from bags to flower containers.

Distressed jeans

Not every tear in your jeans needs to be repaired: “Destroyed Jeans” is a very trendy look and is offered by many brands. But with just a few simple steps you can give your old jeans a fresh kick yourself!

upcycle old clothes

Stained clothes

There are also useful functions for shirts that have unsolvable stains and that you absolutely cannot start with: Cut your garment into square pieces of fabric (40 x 40 cm), which you can then use as cleaning rags. So you save your money for new rags and find a second use for your old favorite shirt!

Color your life: quick dye ‘batik’ techniques for your clothes

For the warmer spring days, a little color is especially nice! You can conjure up an individual designer piece with a boho look from your white t-shirt in just a few steps. Just tie some cord or string around the item tightly in various ways, then let it sit in a pot of strong dye on the stove or even in the microwave. This gives a mock ‘batik’ effect. Combined with light blue denim jeans and plain, white sneakers, the colorful shirt comes into its own! Also nice: For a little colorful freshness kick for your living room just ‘batik’ the white pillowcases. 

More upcycling tips for your DIY projects

  • Patchwork: The fabrics are beautiful, but the cuts just don’t suit your taste? Then cut them to size and design a patchwork blanket or sew your fabric parts into a mix and match piece on a t-shirt or sweatshirt. The mix of different patterns can create great effects. Before doing so, check whether the materials match with their material properties.
  • Holes can be easily repaired with other materials such as lace. This will individualize your look and can be perfectly complemented by a lace top!
  • Yes to oversize! Men’s clothing is often made of firmer fabrics that sit more stable and keep their shape. Oversized T-shirts can be shaped by a knot in the waist or on the back and shirts or long shirts can be worn as a dress by putting a suitable belt in the waist!
  • Shoes can also be pimped: how about a little color for your actually white favorite sneakers? Often, the yellowed edges can only be removed with difficulty from white fabric sneakers. With textile colored pencils, these can be easily embellished and shine as a highlight of your outfit!

We hope we could inspire you to let your creativity run wild! If you attach great importance to sustainable handling of clothing, take your sorted out clothing that you cannot recycle to a second-hand shop or an aid facility. At flea markets you can always find great treasures that are just waiting to be worn again. If you also have great ideas for fashion upcycling with old clothes, feel free to write them in the comments!

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