Girl Reconstructed: Upcycling Old Clothes

amoursansanguishReduce, Reuse, Upcycle! In the wild wonderful world of crafting you know these are our way of life, in spite of what the mega big box craft stores would like us to think. So this week I set a goal: what can I do with only thrifted pre loved mAmour Sans Anguishaterials?

Second hand stores are gleaming with craft finds like retro sewing patterns, stacks of fabric, old curtains, sheets and clothes. Clothes that not even your grandmaw could love anymore…but what if all these things could be reconstructed into something new? Craftalicious designers like Amour Sans Anguish and Supayana take discarded and way out of style garments and turn them into brand new eco fashionista dreams. Layer upon layer of eco couture and smart redesign. While so many are singing the praises of new fabrics like organic cotton, bamboo and peace silk – the most eco savvy choice is actually the fabric that requires nothing new to be produced, cutting out the intensive waste it takes to grow, break down and weave the fibers. While this might not be the #1 choice for those who are chemically sensitive, it is the most gentle on our sensitive earth.

Supayanagirl reconstructedOnce you begin deconstructing fulgy clothing you will find that all the supplies you need are right there! Elastic, yarn, lace, and a plethora of fabrics & patterns to choose from- to mix, match and create your own indie style beauty.

My first project was this strapless sun dress, which started out as a clogger riverdance puff sleeve frill collared mess. I took apart the top half of the dress, sewed the belt in(which ties in back), and then added the button trim from another old yellow polka dot top.I think it’s agreed that no one wants to wear that heavy 70’s polyester fabric anymore, since it is like wearing a non breathable chemical suit (think boy in the bubble), but vintage polyester can make fabulous trim on hemlines, seamlines, and anywhere you want to add pizazz! Next I want to tackle some of those 80’s prom dresses!

Share your reconstruction ideas here, and if you have  cool pictures of your eco construct email us at kelly [@] importantmedia.org so we can ogle your skills and feature our favorite one!

Photo/Image: Amour Sans Anguish, Supayana

Written by Leslie Richard

I live and breathe everything eco , from organic gardening, organic food, to green crafting, minimalist decorating and nature made art. On an average day you can find me planting seeds, loving on my kitty, working on my eco fashion store The Oko Box (www.theokobox.com), and blogging about something green. I love promoting eco lifestyles and participating in changing the future, for a greener earth. xoxo

29 Comments

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  1. Awesome post on upcycling old clothes! My mom taught me how to use “hand me downs” as material for new dresses in the ’70’s. Here’s tip for the re-cycled garment designers – flip the material over – sometimes the pattern is brighter on the “wrong side.” Love the dress – nice work!

    Cindy

  2. I’m in love with your posts! I’m going to try my hand out in sewing for the first time in 27 years with similar ideas. I hope mine come out half as good as yours!

  3. Reconstructing old clothes isn’t a new thing for me (spent almost a year at Wardrobe Refashion, and after a bit of a break am very much looking forward to the next sign-up period!), but as a slight fabricoholic, this was a good reminder for me that I don’t always have to buy new! And great pics in here– very inspiring designs.

  4. Upcycling crafters unite! I love doing this although I don’t yet make clothing there have been many bags and gifts I created out of upcycled or repurposed material. Love it!!

  5. These clothes make me feel inspired to try sewing some recycled clothing again. I’ve tryed before and it’s been “less than stellar”.

  6. Hey Carrie- I have sewn many “less than stellar” outfits myself – I am so glad my new inspiration can spread! I am determined to learn to sew better & think out the box 🙂

  7. Although not as fashion forward as these examples, I’ve had great luck using thrifted adult clothes to make clothes for my daughters. Taking advantage of existing seams, I’ve been able to whip up skirts and pants for my little ones for almost no time and money!

  8. oh cool Barbara! I didn’t even think of how items can be converted across age & gender barriers! I can see a stretchy yoga pant leg becoming a little girls tube dress by just adding a strap 🙂

  9. Leslie:

    I love the idea and love the dress, very nice! I may try it with pillows, something easy before I move into wearable fashions.

    Ronnie

  10. The current edition of (British) Vogue magazine shows a white blouse with pink buttons (on front cover). It is worn with a pink bead necklace. It makes me think that one could change the buttons on a blouse from a thrift shop and with little effort have a very striking garment.

  11. For all of the knitters out there, I saw somebody with skeins of yarn that had been upcycled from rescued sweaters. Just take the sweater apart and roll the yarn up.

  12. I love the idea of using old clothes to make new ones, and this articlwe was just what I was looking for. But, I’m a complete sewing beginner, so is there any standard patterns that you guys use or would recommend that i could start myself off with before going ‘freestyle’?

  13. Hey Trudy!

    I would recommend this book: Generation T 108 ways to transform a t-shirt.
    This book has bunches of no sew and beginning sew projects all made from t-shirts, some of which are really adorable projects! It’s totally a beginner upcycle dream come true!

  14. Wow! What a great post and great designers. I adore your creation!! I have been collecting from thrift and vintage shops for sometime now…eventually I hope to find the time to reconstruct some of those. =)

  15. glad Ive found your site it is good to know that iam not the only one using recycled materials for use around the home.Has anyone started to use linens for houshold projects yet? Ive made lots of new things like napkins pillowcases and t towles just to name a few.

  16. great stuff, innovative, gorgeous designs. reminds me of a modern edge on what the heroines of 17th century classical literature would have worn.

    love it

  17. I have begun to use old knits and T’s that don’t fit anymore to make new things for my daughters. They love the idea that they are getting to “wear Mommy’s clothes”.

  18. Hi There!
    What an awesome post 🙂 I co-Own a upcycled clothing business and am absolutely obsessed with crafting beautiful clothes out of other people’s cast offs…there is a satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful in this way that you could NEVER gain from going and buying something from say ‘Topshop’ that is just as expensive (if not more) and that is worn my thousands of people! A massive shout out to all those clever peeps that have realised the alternatives 😀 WOOOOOOOOO!

    Rebekah (www.sawdustanddiamondsclothing.com)

  19. I have been saving up some old clothes for along time and it’s great to see more and more people jump on the upcycling band wagon. With three children I see so many unwanted clothes lying in the free clothing places, like churches and so many other organizations. It’s great to know that something can be done wih them.

  20. wow! my new hobby is taking ugly old shirts (that maybe I thought were super cool a few years ago, or that were thrifted or hand-me-down) and turning them into hopefully-less-ugly ‘new’ shirts. quite a bit less ambitious than the stuff on the sites you linked to, which will definitely serve as inspiration!

  21. I have been re-fashioning clothing since the mid 70’s when a favorite home ec teacher gave us a project to make a “new” item out of an existing garment. Loving fabrics as I do, thrift stores are a gold mine for collecting silk shirts/dresses for “new” slips, linings, pj’s etc. Recent cashmere sweater finds have turned into fingerless gloves, caps, and beaded pillows. I’ve purchased some very “un-beautiful” garments just for the buttons and lace (yards and yards of beautiful stuff). Don’t ya just love it? Thank you for sharing. Please, buy local, buy American.

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