34 upcycling clothes ideas
Turn old unloved items into something beautiful and wearable with our upcycling clothes ideas. There's everything from men's shirt refashions to DIY bikinis helping you save both your bank balance and the planet!
People are become more conscious of fast fashion and taking to their sewing kits to find new and inventive ways to upcycle.
Whether you're turning an old blouse into a reusable dishcloth or crocheting your own reusable cotton pads from leftover yarn, we're all doing our bit to make our home and wardrobe a little bit more sustainable.
An estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year and this is both terrible for the planet and our bank balance!
So how can we all become more sustainable? Well reducing, reusing and re-wearing is a start but here at Gathered we're all about upcycling clothes. Using just a needle, thread, and some scissors you can turn unloved items into new stunning pieces that are fit for the red carpet.
You could turn them into an entirely new item, you could mend them using funky stitching and fabric or you could adjust them to fit better to your size and style.
Inspired by our favourite TV show The Great British Sewing Bee, we challenge you to turn an unworn item in your wardrobe into something new using these upcycling clothes ideas.
Love everything in your wardrobe? Then head down to the charity shops instead of the high street and pick out some items that have, with a little bit of love, the potential to be fabulous.
Now on with the upcycling!
34 upcycling clothes ideas
1. Turn a shirt into a blouse
Upcycling clothes doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it's as simple as removing the sleeves! Jennie Jones explains how to turn a shirt into a blouse in her simple step-by-step tutorial.
2. How to sew a pocket
Upcycling old T-shirts can be as easy as adding a contrasting pocket. Learn how to sew a pocket so you can make your clothes both pretty and practical.
3. Wrap crop top DIY
The Felted Fox has created a really simple upcycle which turns a men's shirt into a wrap crop top. We love the bow at the back and think these tops will become a summer staple.
4. Vintage blouse to bustier transformation
Transformations By Tracy has an amazing Youtube channel where she gives you loads of upcycling clothes ideas.
We particularly love this vintage blouse to Regency Era inspired bustier tutorial. It's easy to follow and gives us all the Bridgerton vibes.
5. Sarong refashion
Upcycling clothes has never been easier. Use Portia Lawrie’s refashion tutorial to turn a sarong into a summer top. This is especially good for us Brits who don't get much use from their beach clothes!
Check out her sun top pattern and add it to your To Upcycle list.
6. Turn jeans into a cute skirt
Transform old jeans into a mid-length skirt with Jessica Entwistle's free upcycling clothes tutorial. A denim skirt is a summer staple and you can customise the pattern to make it as long or short as you'd like.
Learn how to turn a pair of jeans into a skirt and share this hack with all your pals.
7. Shirt to cami upcycle
Whether it's your partners, dads, or a charity shop find, there's plenty of upcycling ideas you do with men's shirts. Jennie Jones's easy men’s shirt refashion turns plain shirts into cute off-shoulder tops that are ideal for summer.
8. Turn a scarf into a summer cover-up
We're not settling for just upcycling clothes ideas, oh no. We're going all out with accessories upcycling too. Lana Red shows you how to turn a scarf into a summer cover-up that's perfect for your next holiday.
This refashion is much more affordable than buying a new beach cover-up and it's better for the planet!
9. DIY bodysuit
My Styled Diaryy is a Surinamese Sewing blogger & Youtuber whose platforms are full of incredible upcycling clothes ideas. Here she shows you how to turn an old tank top into a fitted bodysuit.
10. DIY maxi dress refashion
Handmade with Jess is another great blog for upcycling clothes ideas. She shows you how to turn a maxi dress into a top and skirt which you can mix and match with other outfits.
It's a great beginner upcycling project and Jess's tutorial is really simple to follow.
11. Men's shirt refashion
If our upcycling clothes ideas aren't quite right for you then what about this shirt into a cami top refashion?
Portia Lawrie is the queen of upcycling clothes and we think this tutorial makes great use out of unused shirts. Who doesn't love a cami top?
12. Dress to jumpsuit transformation
Cotton + Curls has a detailed tutorial and video showing you how to turn a dress into this fitted jumpsuit.
Head to the charity shops to find an oversized dress then follow the video to sew your own romper.
13. Add a peplum to your T-shirt
Give old T-shirts a little makeover with Jennie Jones t-shirt to peplum top refashion. This is a great project for beginners as it doesn't follow a pattern and can be easily adjusted. All you need is a man’s XL T-shirt and your sewing kit.
14. Upcycled sweater project
Got several jumpers you just don't wear anymore? Then Portia Lawrie's upcycled sweater project is your next upcycling clothes mission. She shows you how to sew several different colours/textures together to create a new patchwork jumper.
15. Halter dress refashion
Hanna from Pearls & Scissors has this great halter dress to skirt DIY on her blog. We love the idea of taking a dress you've only worn once for a special occasion and turning it into an everyday piece of clothing.
16. Curtains to clothes
Transform a pair of voile curtains (that's right, curtains!) into a pleated midi skirt that's perfect for twirling. Portia Lawrie’s easy tulle skirt refashion is a must-make for any cottagecore fans out there.
17. Full bust adjustment
Upcycling clothes is all about making clothes feel comfortable and wearable for you. Having a bigger chest shouldn't mean you miss out on wearing pretty floral dresses so learn how to do a full bust adjustment with Roisin McKenna's tutorial.
18. Boho inspired jean cutoff shorts
Emily, owner of Blue Corduroy has some great upcycling clothes ideas on her blog. These fun shorts are made from a plain pair of jeans and some floral fabric sewn together.
Their rough edge gives them a beachy feel and you'll be saving your jeans from landfill when you make this thrift flip!
Brighten your clothes with tie dye patterns!
Don't throw out your old t-shirts! You can give them a vibrant makeover by using tie dye techniques.
Experiment with Gathered's favourite tie dye patterns.
19. Turn old clothes into accessories
We've given you plenty of upcycling clothes ideas but how about upcycling your clothes into something different? Cut up old dresses, tops, and trousers and learn how to make a scrunchie with the fabric.
20. DIY twist sweater
Tiffany M has created a great upcycle sweater tutorial for Cut Out and Keep. She shows you how to add this beautiful twist to a plain knit sweater. Tiffany has also made a Youtube video showing you exactly how this DIY works.
21. Make flares from your jeans
70's clothing and flares are all the rage at the moment. If you want to jump on the flare hype then Wiki How has a really simple upcycle tutorial for you. They show you how to add an extra panel into your jeans to turn them into flares.
22. DIY Vest
23. Refashioning shorts to a skirt
Fickle Sense has some really clever upcycling ideas on her blog including these shorts into a tulip skirt tutorial. It's the ideal refashion for those shorts which are a bit too long.
24. Adjust the neckline
Sometimes you find a t-shirt you love but the neckline isn't quite right. Either it's too high, too old-fashioned, or too tight! Luckily The Fashion Wanderer is here to show you how to make V necklines in your beloved tops.
25. DIY choker dress from t-shirt
Add an extra edge to your plain t-shirt dresses with Trash to Couture's choker neckline. It's an easy way to turn a high-street dress into runway style. Plus there's no tedious hemming/finishing required - result!
26. Pants to pinafore!
How adorable is this pinafore dress? We've seen them all over the high-street but Sew Much Love, Mary shows you how to DIY your own. Her tutorial shows you how to turn trousers into a pinafore with a few simple snips.
27. Visible mending
This tutorial by Flora Collingwood-Noris is a mixture of both mending and upcycling. Flora shows you to do visible mending, a technique where you patch up a hole or stain with a decorative pattern.
The pattern can give your outfits an extra edge both fixing and upcycling them at the same time.
28. Cardigan conversion
If you have some sweaters that are a little too tight then Delia Creates is here to help. She shows you how to turn a sweater into a cute button cardigan. Perfect for chilly summer evenings.
29. T-shirt to shorts DIY
The Instructables has created these surfer-style shorts from an oversized top and we just love them. All you'll need to make these comfy shorts is an XL t-shirt and some sewing supplies.
30. Shirt to ruffle top flip
The Essentials Club has loads of upcycling clothes ideas on their Youtube channel so we'd definitely recommend subscribing. This shirt to pretty ruffle top refashion has a drawstring tie meaning it can fit all shapes and sizes.
31. One-shoulder upcycle
My Style Diaryy is back with another upcycling tutorial. This time she shows you how to turn a long-sleeved top into a one-shoulder piece giving it that modern edge. You'll just need some elastic and your sewing machine!
32. Bandana shirt upcycling project
Spruce up an old shirt with this clever upcycling hack from Debbie Wainhouse! She's used just one bandana to give a denim shirt a fresh new look.
Try the bandana shirt upcycling idea today.
33. Pencil skirt pattern
What can you do with a old sweater? Turn it into a comfy pencil skirt! This pencil skirt pattern by Portia Lawrie will make your second-hand jumpers into something chic.
34. Cosy winter poncho
Keep warm all winter by fashioning your own snuggly poncho! This poncho pattern by Jennie Jones makes use of a large men's sweater to make an elegant new garment.
Upcycling clothes ideas to refresh your wardrobe
The clothes industry produces huge amounts of waste each year, but we can all do our bit by making our clothes last longer – whether that's repairing wornout garments or turning them into something new.
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Luckily, there are lots of creative ways to upcycle old clothes and turn them into gorgeous new outfits. You can turn t-shirts into dresses, tailor secondhand clothes to fit you perfectly or transform old jeans into a stylish new mini skirt.
Transform your crafting with recycled projects
We hope you've enjoyed our upcycling clothes ideas and have found your next project to work on. For more sustainable crafts make sure you check out Gathered's recycled craft ideas for adults.
Phoebe has worked for Gathered, and our sister magazine Mollie Makes, for 3 years. She manages our Arts & Crafts section and specialises in social media and content strategy. She has a background in all things marketing, a flair for Pinterest and a knack for finding the next big craft trend. Previously she worked as Digital Campaign Executive for Fat Media. You may recognise her name from Mollie Makes Social Media magazine, where she shared her expertise and top tips on becoming social media savvy.
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