Summer is right around the corner (especially for us college student who are on a semester system) and if you are anything like me, summer makes you want to buy a completely new wardrobe. If you are even more like me, you don’t have anywhere near the amount of money that it would take to completely revamp your look.
To remedy this situation I present to you upcycling. Upcycling is defined as the ReUse of discarded objects or materials in such a way to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. In the terms of higher quality and value in monetary means I'm not sure this definition holds up, but in personal value it is huge. I upcycle my old clothes and thrifted clothes into new more stylish pieces.
Not only is upcycling cost-effective and environmentally friendly it also allows you too experiment with your look and generate completely unique pieces that you would not typically find in stores. In the days of fast fashion, the thought of making your own clothes can be intimidating to a lot of people. I'm here to say that anyone can upcycle and with a few quick tips you'll be on your way to your new unique summer aesthetic.
1. Purchase fabric
At the end of at the end of your project, you will most likely end up with a completely new garment then you started with. This means that the garment you purchase can be viewed as only fabric. Look for high-quality fabric with as little damage as possible. This also means you will most likely need to look in sizes larger than your own to ensure you'll have enough fabric for your new garment and seam allowances.
If you find a fabric you really like but you don't think you'll have enough search for a complimentary fabric you could add into the Garment to ensure a good fit. For example, I made shorts out of a Hawaiian shirt but didn't have enough fabric so I cut up a black tank-top I had an added side panels to the shorts. You can also look for fabric and other places than the clothing section of thrift stores. I have seen shirts made out of pillowcases. Dresses made out of bed sheets and jackets made of quilts.
The more fabric the better. Unlike making clothes from scratch you cannot just go back to the store and purchase more of the same fabric you originally were working with.
2. Always have a plan before you start cutting
Because you only have a finite amount of fabric, it is important to plan your entire and product out before you start cutting. Like I mentioned above you can't go back to the store and find the exact same fabric you originally were working with. Is important to double-check all your measurements and seam allowances before you make your first cut.
3. Use clothes you already own as your pattern
My favorite thing to do is to make shorts out of Hawaiian shirts. I'm a huge fan of flowy shorts but up until last summer, they were pretty hard to come by. When I first decided to do this I simply trace the one pair I already had by each panel of fabric and cut it out. Taking a close look at the clothes you already have and how they are constructed it is easier to anticipate how to construct your own shorts are simple. Without pockets, shorts are only four panels of fabric. Two front pieces two back pieces. With this in mind constructing a garment can be a lot less intimidating.
If you are using a piece of clothing with an elastic band, make sure to stretch the band and trace the fully extended length of the fabric.
4. A straight stitch is your best friend
Let's be honest most people my age did not grow up making their own clothes. Many people don't even know how to sew, but many people have access to a sewing machine. When it comes to a straight stitch, the sewing machine does most the work. Search for patterns where most of your sewing is along a straight line or only slightly curved line. For beginners, this will result in a cleaner garment while they practice their sewing skills.
5. Don't worry about the lining
You don't need fancy sewing skills to make something that is cute and comfortable to wear. At the end of the day, if you are making casual wear, it is not the biggest priority to have the cleanest seams and lining on the inside of your garment. As long as it is comfortable to wear, most people will not notice and you will save a lot of time and headaches from skipping this step.
6. Looking for a beginner project? Just start with cutting
Try cropping a shirt with a pattern you like. Turn those old Levi jeans into cute high-waisted shorts. Just changing the length of something can dramatically change the Garment. Another way to another way to upcycle without knowing how to sew is just to wear a garment in a way it wasn't intended you see this most frequently with long skirts that are turned into cute strapless dresses belted at the waist.
7. Youtube is a great resource to get inspiration and learn skills
It is okay if you don't know where to start. Youtube is a great place to see what is in the realm of possibilities and to see how others troubleshot problems in previous projects. I started upcycling after watching the channel Coolirpa's "Thrifted Transformations" series.
With these tips, I hope to see all of you in your new upcycled fashion this summer!