Upcycling Tutorial: 5 Hacks to Transform your Clothes

Learn easy ways to upcycle and remake your wardrobe with Steel and Stitch

Repurposing and revitalizing items in our wardrobe can save money, help the environment, and produce one-of-a-kind pieces.

Crochet designer and author Emma Friedlander-Collins, also known as Steel and Stitch (@steelandstitch), specializes in upcycling and remaking objects. Here, she shares a few simple ways we can extend the life of our wardrobe by using simple techniques to create pieces that are original and full of personality.

1. Reuse knit

Giving old sweaters new life isn't as scary as it might seem, since once you sew the edges back down you don't have to worry about the knit fraying. You can repurpose knitwear into other pieces of clothing, or even pillow covers, and if you want to add extra color and texture it's easy to embellish with crochet.

Upcycling Tutorial: 5 Hacks to Transform your Clothes 3

2. Repurpose old embroidery

You can spruce up a plain piece of clothing with embroidery without ever having to make a stitch. Take something that's already embroidered (it could be an old shirt or even a table mat from a second hand shop) and apply iron-on backing to the backside of the embroidery. After you trim away the excess, you’ll have an appliqué that you can iron onto another surface.

Upcycling Tutorial: 5 Hacks to Transform your Clothes 5

3. Rework your scraps

You can use fabric left over from past projects to create interesting patchwork pieces. For stiffer fabrics like denim, use a leather punch or similar tool to create holes around the edges of each piece so that you can then crochet it to another scrap.

Upcycling Tutorial: 5 Hacks to Transform your Clothes 7

4. Redecorate using embroidery thread

With a washable pen and a bit of thread, you can sketch out and sew your own designs directly onto your clothes. If you don't have much experience with embroidery, a simple back stitch can add new meaning and personality to your piece, and if you're more experienced you can experiment with different types of embellishment.

Upcycling Tutorial: 5 Hacks to Transform your Clothes 9

5. Fold your clothes before cutting

If you're working with something symmetrical, like a shirt, fold it in half before you start working on it. This will help you achieve a nice even edge on both sides, which you can then leave raw or embellish with an element like crochet.

Upcycling Tutorial: 5 Hacks to Transform your Clothes 11

If you liked this tutorial, you can learn more about creative upcycling from Steel and Stitch through her online course: Upcycling with Crochet for Beginners.

You may also be interested in:
- Sustainable Fashion: Get into Upcycling, a course by Ximena Corcuera.
- Introduction to Contemporary Patchwork, a course by Zita Chocarro Iriarte.
- Introduction to Marbled Fabric, a course by Carla Qua.


Log in or sign up to comment

Get Domestika's news delivered to your inbox