We all know the benefits of recycling, but upcycling takes the concept one step further by turning used materials into higher-value objects.
Upcycling old clothes and household fabrics is a fun, low-impact way to turn yesterday's fashions into tomorrow's trends. The textile industry is the second largest polluter of clean water, so repurposing your cloth is also a hearty nod to the environment (and your wallet!).
We asked some of the web's most creative fashion bloggers for DIY projects that anyone can do to upcycle their own closet in a pinch. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Button-down dress
Geneva Vanderzeil of A Pair & A Spare has a simple DIY that will change the way you look at button-downs: "This is one of our favorite projects — simply take a men's shirt and cut off the top, and add some elastic so it transforms into an insanely wearable dress. You boyfriend/brother/father will need to keep an eye on his shirts now."
2. Wearable throw blanket
Emma Chapman fashioned a no-sew sweater wrap from a dirty throw blanket. After cutting a space for her neck and making two small holes to loop a belt through, her DIY pseudo-poncho was complete. "I'd like to think this is a more fashionable version of a Snuggie," she writes on her A Beautiful Mess blog.
3. Tank remodel
The crafters behind P.S I Made This got creative and turned safety pins into bold clusters to adorn a plain black tank.
4. T-shirt rework
Laura Pifer shows that five minutes and a few snips is all it takes to upcycle an old T-shirt into a wearable dress.
5. Repurposed flannels
Finally — an excuse to wear PJs in public. BrittanyMakes proves that, with a little sewing prowess, you can turn dingy flannels into a comfy repurposed scarf.
6. Fabric earrings
Janelle Montilone of TrashN2Tees gave us a tutorial on how to turn scrapshirt material into a funky accessory.
"You'll need 25mm earring hoop wires available in the jewelry section at any craft store. Lay flat your section of T-shirt 4 inches by 2 inches. Use a rotary cutter or scissors to square off edges. Make ⅜-inch cuts vertically across the fabric. When you're finished make ⅜-inch cuts horizontally — you'll end up with small square shards. Holding the earring hoop in one hand, place your square T-shirt bits onto the wire in a desired pattern until you are satisfied," she explains.
7. Drawstring T-shirt
Cut the sleeves off a shirt and save a strip of leftover scrap to weave through the bottom hem to make a drawstring bag out of any outdated tee or tank. "It’s my favorite kind of project: 100 percent recycled materials (in this case, just the tee and nothing else!), minimal tools, quick and easy, and a super useful finished product," Lee Meredith writes on her Leethal blog.
Preview image courtesy of A Pair & A Spare.