5 Ways to upcycle

Let’s take a look at several ways we can make our fashion and dressing more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Reusing vintage, preloved or clothes already hanging in our closets is the simplest upcycling method. If they are stained or damaged we can repair or refashion them.

Finally, unusable clothing items will be thrown in a recycling bin from where they will be taken to facilities to be turned into raw material again. In spite of that, we cannot do much about whether discarded textiles will be recycled or not, but we can certainly work on our upcycling skills.

What does “upcycling” mean?

Historically, the need to use and reuse what was available was the consequence of poverty and economic recessions. In addition to that, nowadays there is growing awareness of the ecologic and social repercussions of fashion related production and consumption.

Upcycling is the process of reusing, reshaping, refashioning, converting ill fitting or damaged clothes or accessories into new, more valuable items that are of higher quality and wearable again. This way less products get thrown away.

Fast fashion is not only producing innumerable, often very cheap pieces a year, it has also devalued the personal attachment of people to their clothes. The latest dress or t-shirt is very often percieved as a rag that will be soon thrown out just to be replaced by a similar one, of questionable quality. A handbag will be quickly replaced by the purse following the latest fashion dictate.

So, how can we turn our clothes or accessories into something we will love to wear and show off?

  1. Painting is a fun activity that breathes life into a stained piece very quickly. There are many printing techniques to try, as well. Perhaps just playfull splatters?

2. Mending, darning and applique are historically confermed but almost forgotten techniques to make clothes useful again. You can’t go wrong. Simple techniques are great.

3. If you posess more artistic skills with thread and needle, mending and embellishing could be done with embroidery, and it is increasingly popular!

4. Mending is good, but how about slashing, knotting and braiding?

5. Clothes can be often altered by sewing. From the simplest techinques for taking them in, adding new pieces, to recutting them and sewing to fit, dressmaking offers a wide range of reshaping possibilities. Patternmaking is also a great skill to have.

Of course, there are many more techniques that could come handy like knitting, weaving or patchwork piecing. Choose the one you prefer or you may want to learn a new one. Books, patterns, online tutorial and courses are readily available, many for free.

In a world of mass production saving any product from death in a landfill is a win, and it also creates a new item that will be loved and worn for a long time. Perhaps someone will even want to steal it from you? 

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