So you have probably heard of upcycling or refashioning in sewing circles. It isn't a new fad, in fact it has pretty much been around for most of history, but its presence has taken a fun twist in today's sewing world. We no longer simply turn collars, or cut full skirts down for a slimmer more fashionable silhouette; the modern upcyclist looks for a way to turn an old cast off into a brand new creation.
I started off upcycling to save money - I was able to make an entire fall wardrobe for my boys from cast offs from our closet and donations from friends and families who had piles on their way to good will. I love getting sheets, table cloths, curtains, etc... because they are yardage. In the beginning I would dye them or play with them to create new garments full of life. Today, I tend to use them for muslins and summer dresses.
So maybe you are interested in upcycling, but don't know where to start. Here are some tips:
-Start with your closets: Look for things you aren't using or no longer need. It can be clothing, bedding, etc... Really look at the fabric: Is it still in good condition (not worn through)? Is it a color or print you like - if not, is the fabric dye-able to make different and more likeable? Can you envision a project for this fabric right now? If you answered 'no' to any of the above.... skip it. It is easy for an upcycle stash to get out of control - trust me I know.
-Look for notions: I may not always want to keep a garment, but I will rip off buttons, tear out zippers, and save details or embellishments for future use.*Always keep your seam ripper and a pair of scissors with you as you hunt*
-Fall in love with T shirts: Old T shirts can have cool logos or colors that make for awesome upcycle projects. A few designers have dresses with panel instructions specifically for upcycled T's. You can also often do the front bodice on a T-shirt or Raglan for kids with and Adult size S or larger T shirt.
-Ask your friends: My friends know that I like to find diamonds in the rough, so they will bring me their goodwill bags first. I got through the bags, keep the things that meet my criteria, and donate the rest. I'm gotten some cool leather this way!
-My last stop is the thrift store or clearance racks at Target/Walmart/etc... If you can grab a cute T for a couple bucks, it might be worth it for the perfect upcycle dress. A $5 prom dress might scale down perfectly for a dress up princess dress, and of course curtains, sheets and tablecloths on the cheap can be an awesome find. Target is knows for their jersey sheet clearances too. *My main goal is always to use what I have though - so I only buy as a last resort if I am doing an upcycle project.
So, what can you make with upcycled materials - ANYTHING!!!!
You are only limited by your own imagination - and of course the amount of material in a garment or your stash. This is your chance to let creativity reign. With large pieces, I can cut out patterns like normal, and the upcycle is just yardage to me. Other times, I find myself having to work around existing seams or notions, so I simply work it into the design. I use jeans to make smaller jeans, and shirts to make smaller shirts, and I've also used underwear to make a dress - hahahahaha, see you really are only limited by your imagination.