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Article: Do It Yourself - Nine Easy Ways to Up Cycle your old Wearable Items

Do It Yourself - Nine Easy Ways to Up Cycle your old Wearable Items
Art Work

Do It Yourself - Nine Easy Ways to Up Cycle your old Wearable Items

You have heard about down cycling of clothes where the old garment gets cut up or is reduced to something inferior compared to the original clothing. E.g. the saree being made into curtains, table cloths, pillow covers etc.

But there are the adventurous lot who believe that if one were to be creative they could actually improve the look of the old garment to something more zippy and interesting with those arty touches. And mind you it need not be restricted to fabrics alone. It could be extended to any other objects around the house.


One of the biggest advantages in up cycling things especially those that you wear, is that you are not spending again for the new thing but just upgrading the look to new. You also would have some clothes that you would not like to part with but would just like a spruced up look to get it back on the scene.

In fact you could start liking the new avatar much better than you did the old one.

Let us see some popular examples.

  1. You got old shoes? Decorate them innovatively

Glitter and glue could do wonders. Use your old trainers, sport shoes or whatever other cloth footwear that you are using and spruce them up in appearance. Sprinkle the glitter in a nice orderly manner. Your best bet is to mix the glitter with the glue when you apply it, and add an extra layer of glue on top afterwards to keep everything in place. You can also dye your laces to match, or even switch them for sparkly ribbon instead. Your new trainers are ready!

       2.Turning your favourite T shirts into an interesting duvet cover

What is a duvet cover? It is a quilt, usually with a washable cover, that may be used in place of  a  bedspread and top sheet. And why are T shirts a good choice? You get plenty of ready pithy sayings spread across the front and sometimes back. So the bed spread or duvet cover would make for something colorful and interesting. The idea is to stitch the T shirts in an orderly manner so that together they form the bed cover end-to-end. You could make use of the sewing machine if you can do it yourself or get it done the way you want or the hard way - slow but steady stitching by hand.

         3.Make your own halter neck top

You have a baggy T shirt that is lying in a corner in your cupboard. Can’t dispose it for sentiment reasons, can’t wear it either. Why not change its look instead? The baggy T shirt can very well become the much liked and much loved halter neck top that shows style and class. All that you need to do is cut away the unwanted portions with care and then fashion out the needed areas.

The Method

  1. First, cut up the tshirt. detatch the sleeves and the back from the front. Do not throw away any of the pieces, you may need them later on.
  2. You could copy the front and back piece pattern using another halter neck top as a guide. In fact for symmetry you could draw half of it so that when you cut it out onto folded fabric, each side will be equal. Remember to leave an inch for seam allowance.
  3. Grab the front piece of the Tshirt and fold it in half. Pin the pattern onto the folded T shirt making sure you line up the side where it says "CF on fold" on the fold line.
  4. If your T shirt has a logo, make sure the logo is in the center.  Cut out and repeat for the back piece on a spare piece of the cut up T shirt.
  5. Fold and sew a hem line on the front and back pieces. You can iron them down before sewing to make it easier.
  6. The next step is creating the straps. Cut 2.5inch (ish) width from the spare part of the T shirt. Use the longest piece, as this needs to be long enough to tie around the neck. Cut two of these strips out.
  7. Next fold the strips in half and iron.
  8. Sew a straight line a few mm away from the raw edge of the strips.
  9. It’s time to turn the straps inside out. Attach a pin on one end of the strip and feed it through the inside of a tube whilst pulling the fabric down to turn it inside out.
  10. Pin the straps on either side of the front piece and carefully sew into place. This may be tricky on the sewing machine so if you're not that confident you can hand sew this.
  11. Take the front piece and back piece and line up the edges right sides facing each other. Sew a straight line on the edges.
  12. Turn inside out and you have yourself a halter neck top!

       4.Why not turn old jumpers into novel cushion covers?

You love your old sweaters, jumpers, even now but they ill-fit now, because you have outgrown them. You would not like to cut them up and re-fashion them differently. Why not give your old cushions a new look, by simply allowing them to wear these jumpers and sweaters, instead? Novel as an idea, snazzy by look, they would nicely decorate the living room and serve as ideas for others to follow suit.


1) Line up pillow to sweater, use a fabric marker to draw lines round the shape of the pillow

2) Cut along markings. You can leave side seams if they are already there.

3) Cut 2 pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing the same size as sweater pieces.

4) Fuse the interfacing onto the wrong sides of the sweater with an iron over a damp cloth – both front and back.

5) Pin pieces inside out and mark a space to leave open for the filling or pillow form (unless using a sweater with buttons which are a ready-made opening)

6) Sew around all sides but leave an opening on one side

7) Turn right side out and insert pillow or stuffing

8) Sew up the opening

5.       Transform T-shirts into artwork

You are accustomed to seeing personalities, nature scenes, abstract art and other themes captured in frames and hung on walls. Most T shirts have interesting things to say. Why not choose some of the old ones that are not very faded and give them a new lease of life, by framing them and hanging on a few of the walls of your house?  The environs would appear much more interesting then.


How do you do it you ask?

Simply buy a smart new frame. If the frame color were to contrast the background of what would be within, it would catch attention. Dark frame for light inside and vice-versa. Based on the frame size you have chosen plot out a matching square on the T shirt. Cut out the square, tape it to the inside of the frame to keep it straight and you have a great ‘portrait’ to admire.

  1. Make your own chokers

Chokers or the decorative necklaces that stay close to the neck portion are back. But they cost quite a bit in shops. Why not make your own chokers? What would you require?Materials that would be needed are your favourite ribbons and lace, velvet cloth, charms to hang out on the front of the choker if you feel like having something extra.

The method:

  • Decide what circumference you shall have for the choker and cut your ribbon length.
  • Once you've measured and cut your ribbon, get yourself some press buttons, and glue these to either side. This will enable you to clasp the necklace at the back.
  • After you've mastered the basics, there are tips on how you can take your chokers to the next level.
  • If the stuff you make is of a good quality, you could also try selling it on online!

            7.Turn your jeans into patch shorts

What does one do with jeans that get boring? You could turn them into funky shorts. Start by simply marking on your jeans pant and with sharp scissors cut them into shorts. You could fold up the edges and sew or you could simply leave them frayed. If you have some patterned material fashion two pockets and stitch them neatly as back pockets on the jeans shorts.

8.Use material scraps to make hand warmers

There may be some fabric scrap or unwanted garments lying about in your cupboard. Choose some strong material without much elastic to them. T shirts and jumpers won’t do here, but skirts and dresses will. Cut the material you have fetched roughly into 5” x 5” squares. Cut out the same size in simple flannel material to double up and make the packs extra strong.

Once you have the squares made and filled them with uncooked rice. Put them in the microwave oven for 30 seconds.

You have nice warmers for those cold mornings. You can also create longer packs out of trouser legs that can then be placed along the bottom of your bed to keep your feet warm during the winter months!


9.Make something nice and womanly out of those large men’s T shirts

If you have seen those large men’s T shirts that are available at throwaway prices in sales you could buy some of them and re-fashion them into something smaller and womanly.

How do you do it?

  • Get an extra large men’s T shirt.
  • If you are a tall female, you could make a long shirt out of it. Or you could add a layer to the edge of the shirt to make a dress.
  • Wear the shirt inside out. With chalk mark where the shoulders start. Then from top to armpit mark and then cut.
  • Mark, pin and then sew where the armpit would likely be. This can be measured by putting the sleeve on your arm and getting it right.
  • Now sew the sleeve smaller and pin it to the original hole.
  • Now what do you do with the excess fabric from the original sleeve length?
  • Mark from armpit all the way down to the bottom of the shirt, sew it to need and cut the excess fabric.
  • At this point you could leave it like this OR if you want cuter sleeves, you could add something different at the point where the shoulder meets the sleeve, like say plastic, and then put a few stitches to it to keep it from moving.
  • Then carefully sew it all the way down. Holding it stretched would help tremendously.
  • The new outfit is ready.
These are just nine ideas out of hundreds of possibilities, maybe thousands. What is important is getting into the spirit of adventure and trying out new ideas as they occur.

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