How To UpCycle Clothes And Learn To Sew

how to upcycle clothes

With 50% of Australian clothes donated to Lifeline/Red Cross etc. not fit for sale in Australia, those are being shipped to third world countries.  But those guys are starting to put in place policies that will soon reject that system and we will be left with 50% of the total thrown away [donated] fashion that happens in Australia.

Now more than ever we need a smart strategy to be able to reduce this waste and turn what we think is no longer wearable into something new.

The key, the most important step is to stop buying synthetics, it is not a durable fabric and you also need to be pretty good at sewing to be able to take that fabric and make it into another piece.   And as time seems to be the main friction for people being able to sew, if every time you had to upcycle something you had to pin it every 5 cms you would soon lose the love of upcycling and we want to avoid that at all costs.

war on waste fashion upcycling

image source; Jane Milburn more about this topic and natural fibres and how they are the sustainable fabric choice, click on Jane's name.


Tube Top Video;

This is a great way to upcycle shirts or dresses into a great beach coverall, keep your eye out for clothes that have a 90/10 cotton/spandex ratio in it and that will be used as the tube pieces for this design.  This was one of the key designs I used to make for my old label that reduced the fabric waste when I would cut the designs for my old label. 

Here I show you how I turned a dress and two tops into a Tube Top, the Tube Dress tutorial is coming.  Definitely 2020, as this year has been hectic.  For a beginning sewist this is a great project to cut your teeth on when you are looking to be sustainable with your sewing.



Kimono Upcycling Sewing Project;

I love Kimono's I have two on rotation for my house clothing.  But this vintage piece just spoke to me but what I have learned is if the fabric is too heavy it becomes too hot to wear.


So to make it more wearable and also for outside the house, I decided to shorten this beautiful vintage Kimono.   Altogether this took less than 45min to cut and sew, way faster than making it from scratch.  This is where the potential of upcycling and sewing in your spare time can be ALOT more productive if you know how to upcycle and blend designs rather than always starting from scratch.


This piece has been in heavy rotation since we filmed this tutorial.  Enjoy


As we add more and more sustainable tutorials to our YouTube channel we will be updating this blog.  For ease of reference for future sewing projects please star this post to your Sustainable Sewing Tips folder in your browser.

We are building up our network of sustainable sewist teachers, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel as we upload new sewing tutorials each week.

xx Irene

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