Make Your Own: Simple Ways To Refashion Clothes – Eco Fashion Sewing

Make Your Own: Simple Ways To Refashion Clothes

Discover how to recycle clothes just with basic machine skills (or more advanced - your choice!). Use the unique upcycling methods from this episode to invent your own simple ways to refashion clothes you actually LOVE to wear!

How to transform leggings - the upcycler

By Mariana Kirova

Why Getting Smarter How You Refashion Is Important

If you think you need to have extensive sewing experience to make unique refashions... you're wrong!

If you think you need to be a dressmaker (or make your DIY clothes from scratch) to make unique refashions... you're wrong!

If you think you need to know how to draft patterns or 'mix and match' different patterns to make unique refashions... you're wrong!

If you think you need to know fashion design to make unique refashions... you guessed it! - you're wrong, again.

Knowing how to machine sew or how to make clothes from scratch with patterns is not enough to get you quickly into reworking old clothes into new. It looks especially hard when you’re just starting out and learning how to use your sewing machine. However, your sewing level is not exactly equal to how smart you'd go about creating interesting new from the old.

In fact, any level of sewist could face difficulties not knowing how to start, what to do, and what to consider when it comes to clothing upcycling.

simple ways to refashion clothes 1

'Shortcuts' To Make Your Own Simple Ways To Refashion Clothes (for any sewing level)

The best way to get right into refashioning is to use 'shortcuts'.

You won't find those though in fashion textbooks. Nor you'll find them organised in a way that you understand easy the 'how-tos', online or offline. It is still all over the place and everyone is doing their own thing (mostly DIY try and error type of thing until unexpectedly success is achieved). So, the field still has a lot more to go and develop.

Nevertheless, over the years I've found some great shortcut 'concepts' that lead to awesome (and often surprisingly simple) ways to refashion that really work. I call these 'shortcuts' upcycling techniques and methods.

In my refashion practice, they have been successfully proven to deliver wonderful results! Almost every one of my favourite refashion clothing projects has been done using some of the techniques that I'm going to be sharing here.

How 'Shortcuts' Help To Find Own Simple Ways To Refashion Clothes

What I love the most about these upcycling techniques though is that they allow great freedom to create items of clothing which you really could LOVE wearing.

Because the reality is that too many sewists new to clothes upcycling get stuck by following specific upcycle projects. So, they end up not actually liking the particular design or project, let alone love wearing it afterwards (a lot of projects don't even get finished because of that). What a waste of time, energy... and money!

The one thing to take on board so to prevent that is to get more familiar with some successful 'shortcuts', or as I mentioned I like to call them, upcycling methods and techniques. First they give you general idea, possible design direction. But then, you can visualise what it could be before even making the first cut! Straightforward. And working. Cool, right? 

Then, depending on your style and taste for clothing and your current skillset you can easily figure out YOUR OWN (more complex or simple) ways to refashion clothes you already have at hand.

Therefore, today I’m excited to share my first-hand insights that I find work fantastic over the several years of my refashioning experience. You'll also get the details of some of my favourite projects. How I've done them and how you can tweak the methods used to get your own upcycle creations to love!

Check out the newest episode on the podcast to find all about it. All links mentioned in the episode you'll find below, too.

EP 14: What Is The Simplest Way To Refashion

Or listen on the podcast page HERE.

Some Highlights Inside This Episode:

  • [2:40] Why the show went silent for a while and what’s coming soon.
  • [3:40] How today’s question is a bit off and what should you be asking so you find the right projects for yourself.
  • [6:00] How to start easy. How to be more intentional with your project (and thus successful at the end). What will help, what to consider so you make projects that you’re going to love. How to find your material and some additional free resources to get you started.
  • [9:40] How you can apply simple ways to refashion clothes and overcome the lack of creative, patternmaking or fashion design skills (and still be successful). What ‘shortcuts’ mean and how to use them when refashioning clothes you no longer wear.
  • [12:50] What is the first critical point for your design decision. How the two strategies for upcycling can lead to great and simple ways to refashion clothes. How I use the two strategies in a practical way.
simple ways to refashion clothes

Examples Of Techniques Within The Garment Strategy

  • [16:10] Examples of techniques within the first, The Garment Strategy (which I also call The Star Method). When and how this strategy is very successful. Check out this article how to support the garment when adding decoration and embellishments.
  • [19:50] My best tip on how to plan for a garment project that you’re really going to love at the end.
  • [22:00] A look at another great technique, Upsizing, which also falls within the first strategy. Directions for how you can enlarge the size depending on what type it is, a top, skirt, pants etc. Check links to some projects I’ve upsized below. [place link]
  • [27:40] My best tip for when upsizing with some ideas how to mix different materials and colours.
Refashioning clothes - choose the colours

Examples Of More Creative Upcycling Techniques 

  • [30:00] Some creative upcycling methods that show how you could ‘mix-and-match’ and other simple ways to refashion clothes within the second strategy.
  • [32:20] More creative upcycling methods which you can choose to apply regardless of your sewing, creative, and fashion design experience. Examples of how to apply those in smart out-of-the-square simple ways and refashion clothes or other textile items from around the house.
  • [36:20] How you can start easy on your own by using the free Clothes Upcycling Starter Kit available here on the website (reload the page and will come up as a pop-up window).
  • [37:20] Quick recap of the episode.
  • [39:20] What’s coming up in the next episode.

Rate, Review & Subscribe On Apple Podcasts

If you love the conversation, please consider writing a review and rating the show.

Podcasts are great way to get the word out to others who want to make change by buying second hand or refashioning clothes they already have.

Your actions will help me reaching out more people and helping them learn the ins and outs of refashioning.

The ultimate goal: we all save more valuable textiles, and thus reduce the enormous textile waste we face today! One. Project. At. A. Time.

Go to the show page here and click “Listen on Apple Podcasts”. In iTunes then select the “Ratings and Reviews” tab click 5 stars to rate and select “Write a Review”. Make sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

If you haven’t done so yet, subscribe to the podcast. It will secure you never miss out, including the free downloads which I’m adding to some of the episodes. Subscribe here.

Other Podcast Episodes Mentioned:

Projects Mentioned In This Episode:

Example of creative and interesting project of one boring ¾-sleeve T-shirt and an outdated overlapping design cardigan. The end result became one of my favourite pieces to wear in winter (picture below). It's done by a technique I use often as among other simple ways to refashion clothes. More about this 'One New From Two Old' technique in this episode on the podcast (video with the different examples included).

Another project using the technique: How To Design & Sew Easy Zero Waste “One New From Two Old”

Another project incorporating this method is the black T-shirt combined with the multicoloured lacey blouse (I just LOVE IT!). Check how it looks and details at the end of this video.

Mariana at Perth Artists Event - simple ways to refashion clothes

How To Upsize A Fitted Shirt Easy (step-by-step tutorial on enlarging the size of any top)

Check how I upsized my old leather jacket in this article here. Watch the video on this project here.

Video explaining the Upside-down concept which can lead to some great and yet simple ways to refashion clothes that you no longer enjoy wearing as they are.

Video with details on an upside-down outfit, leggings into a top and man’s vest into a skirt (runway photo below).

How to transform leggings - runway shot 1

An upside-down outfit from my upcycle collection for EFWA 2017, credit: Harry Leonard Imagery

How to start upcycling clothes - the collection

Check runway photos of my upside-down collection here.

It included creatively reworked pieces such as a wrap skirt from men's button-up shirts, reworked tops, trousers from men's shirts, a pinafore dress from a man's shirt, bare back top and skirt made out of one 9XL man’s shirt, and evening outfit using the modular method of re-designing old into new (dress to the right on the photo above).

Discover Simple Ways To Refashion Clothes For Yourself

I hope this episode will make you eager to check the back of your wardrobe RIGHT NOW :)

Refashioning is the single most creative outlet you can find! It's the new age kind of way to sew your own unique clothing while in the meantime going kind on the wallet, but also on the planet.

Fast fashion can change for the better by people like you and me. Simply by reinventing creativity on our own terms. By developing our own ways for bringing so called 'old clothes' back to life. Right?

Happy upcycling!

Mariana x

Mariana Kirova

Mariana is passionate about garment upcycling and helping others making their own upcycled clothing. Graduated with Award in garment construction from WAIFT, Perth WA, Mariana is not a main stream eco fashion designer. She makes unique eco-friendly garments from unwanted clothes and materials and believes that small fashion professionals and DIY sewers can embrace sustainability in garment creation, thus changing the fashion world for good.