I first learned how to sew back in middle school; I remember thinking, ‘when will I ever need this?’ Then one day I tore my coat and you know what, that’s right, I used that little piece of sewing knowledge. Instead of tossing the coat and buying a new one I fixed it and wore it for another three years and I didn’t stop there.
I’ve always been a thrift seeker and creative type so I took my bit of sewing knowledge and love of thrift store shopping and found a way to combine both into making upcycled clothing. There are many advantages to buying upcycled clothing; not only is it sustainable and eco-friendly, but a great way to have an exclusive piece of clothing and it’s easier to do than you think.
From beginning to end buying upcycled clothing is better for the environment. A considerable amount of American store bought clothing is imported from across the seas; it gets shipped to the U.S. then those same garments must be transported to manufacturers and on to distributors and again to retail stores resulting in a sizeable amount of carbon emissions. Upcycled clothing may have started its life as a mass produced garment, but the exciting thing is that it hasn’t ended its life in a landfill. A wonderful dress or pair of pants gets reimagined into something more; that old frumpy dress with a hole gets turned into a sweater, an apron or even a bracelet. The pair of outdated pants becomes a purse or part of a top.
Buying upcycled clothing is more than being eco-friendly it gives you the chance to buy a one of a kind piece of fashion, a recreated piece of wearable art. Some of my favorite pieces I wear on a daily basis have come from places that my friends and family cannot believe. My mother’s tattered pleather purse that almost went into the waste basket became several hair bows. My son’s outgrown and stained baby clothes became reconstructed, minus the stained parts of course, into cute brooches which I place on hats and tops as well as my purse and hair clips.
With a bit of imagination you can rejuvenate your outdated or ruined clothing into more. One cool and simple way to upcycle an old sweater is by simply cutting off the sleeves, sewing each end and voila now you have leg warmers! You can take the rest of the sweater and make a vest or deconstruct it even more and make a hat and scarf. Another fun project would be taking a man’s dress shirt or oversized tee and converting it into a baby doll dress by cutting off the upper portion of the top, sew a loose seam across the cut area, slide elastic through, make sure to sew the loose elastic and before you know it you have a dress!
To see more of Heather's work visit:
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This was written by Heather Cotton and published on her behalf, all photos shown are property of Heather Cotton and not to be copied or reproduced in any manner without her prior consent.