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9 ways to upcycle your old clothes

Fancy giving your wardrobe a new lease of life but don't have loads of cash to spare? Try giving your old clothes a makeover with these upcycling ideas.

Parting with old clothes can be tough, but when it gets to the point that you're barely able to close the doors of your wardrobe anymore while only actually wearing a tiny fraction of what's in it – something's gotta give.

Of course you could try selling it, but if there's some stuff you have an attachment to (or is in too bad shape to sell or donate), then upcycling is the way forward!

The beauty of upcycling is that your options really are endless – and the more creative, the better. If you get it right, you could end up upgrading your clothes into things you love even more than you did previously.

To get you started, here are our top upcycling ideas for inspiration!

If you're up for this upcycling lark but don't actually have any clothes you'd be happy practicing on in case it all goes horribly wrong, scope out the bargain bins at Primark or check online if you've got any vintage kilo sales in your area (where clothes are sold by weight – we kid you not!).

9 smart ways to repurpose your clothes

  1. Glitter up your trainers

    Credit: Love Maegan

    If you've got a scruffy pair of Converse that you can't bear to part with, then Love Maegan has the solution. Give them an upgrade by covering them in glitter, diamonds or whatever else you fancy.

    All you need is heaps (and heaps) of glitter and some fabric glue. 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 - the last thing you want is to be leaving a trail of glitter wherever you go.

    You can also dye your laces to match, or even switch them for sparkly ribbon instead. Your new night out trainers are sorted!

  2. Turn your favourite t-shirts into a duvet cover

    It always seems a shame when you've been collecting tour t-shirts from some of your favourite gigs or festivals over the years, only for them to end up being used as pyjamas. Or maybe you're holding on to some seriously ragged jumpers and t-shirts that you never wear anymore, but which have a real sentimental value.

    Either way, a great way to avoid chucking these out and instead bringing them into the limelight is by turning them into a magnificent duvet cover - a great idea from Stars for Streetlights.

    This one is a bigger job, and you'll need something called 'lightweight fusible iron on interfacing fabric' to stop the t-shirts from stretching - don't worry though, it's super cheap to buy and you can grab some here.

    If you don't have access to a sewing machine, it might take a while to get all the sewing done, but the extra effort is definitely worth it!

  3. Make your own halter neck top

    If you've got an old baggy t-shirt that you never wear anymore, why not give it a new lease of life by turning it into a halter neck top?

    This method by Versace my Body is super easy to follow and can be done by pretty much anyone.

    Again, a sewing machine will make this much easier, but you can hand sew if you've got a bit of extra time (and patience). Other than that you'll just need some paper to plan out your pattern, some scissors and pins.

    If you want to repurpose some of your old clothes for summer, then this is the perfect solution.

  4. Turn old jumpers into cushion covers

    You can turn pretty much anything into a cushion cover, so this works for old t-shirts just as much as jumpers. But old fluffy jumpers are perfect for making cosy cushion covers.

    You'll need some of that fusible interfacing we mentioned above, to ensure the jumper material maintains its shape and doesn't stretch.

    This method is super easy to do, and you can literally make the covers in minutes - Hallmark Channel have a straight-forward method to follow.

    Bonus tip: Try this out with any university hoodies you have and you'll have a nice souvenir for after graduation!

  5. Transform t-shirts into artwork

    If you have any old band t-shirts, football strips or sentimental hoodies, then turning them into artwork is the perfect way to give them the airtime they deserve.

    Plus, if you use At Home with the Barkers' method, you can get this done in seconds. Simply buy a smart new frame - like this one here - and use it to 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 voila!

  6. Make your own chokers

    Chokers have made a huge comeback recently, but you don't need to fork out cash to buy them on the high street.

    Making them yourself is really easy to do - no sewing required - although you will have to invest in some materials to get started.

    Track down a fabric shop in your local area, and choose your favourite ribbons and lace. Velvet is a timeless classic and easy to work with, but you can use pretty much anything.

    You can also buy some charms to hang on to the front of the choker if you want some extra embellishment.

    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, Wildfire Charm has tips on how you can take your chokers to the next level.

If the stuff you make is of a good quality, you could try selling it on online! Platforms like Depop and Etsy are great for this, and could help you make some extra income while your study!
  1. Turn your jeans into patch shorts

    Don't know what to do with your old jeans? Simply grab a pair of scissors and turn them into shorts.

    Try them on first to make sure you get the right length, and then you can either fold up the edges or leave them loose to fray.

    To give them some extra pizzazz, grab some scrap patterned material and use it to make (or cover) the pockets - like these ones by Delightfully Kristi.

  2. Use material scraps to make hand warmers

    This is a great option for any unwanted items you have that are made of strong material without much elastic to them (so t-shirts and jumpers won't work for this, but shirts will, as will some skirts and dresses).

    Cut the material you have into roughly 5" x 5" squares and some extra squares the same size in a simple flannel material to double up and make the packs extra strong.

    Once you've sewn the squares together and filled them with uncooked rice, blast them in the microwave for 30 seconds and you've got a great little hand warmer 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! Check out Bee in my Bonnet's full tutorial for details on how to get started.

  3. Transform XXL into XXLovely

    Ever spotted those giant XXL men’s t-shirts that are always lying around in Primark sale bins for 50p? Stock up on a couple and get experimenting with different ways to upcycle them. With all the extra material to play around with, there's loads of choice!

    There are tonnes of tutorials online so get searching on YouTube and check out Pinterest for some amazing how-to guides and pictures. If they’re extra big tops, they can double up as jersey dresses for us girls, which are perfect for days at the beach to just throw over your bikini.

Don't have time for upcycling? Use our guide to selling your old clothes online to make money from them instead!

If you’ve got any more ideas for upcycling or customising clothes, leave a comment below!

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