When it comes to accumulating clothing, we’ve become used to either shoving old women's sweaters, pants and shirts in the back of our drawers, under our beds, or in storage. Or we simply throw something away or donate it when it’s clear we’re never going to wear it again. Thanks to upcycling, however, it’s easier and more fun than ever to go shopping right in your closet. What is upcycling exactly? It’s taking anything you’re not wearing, whether it doesn’t fit, isn’t your style, is stained or damaged in a spot, or isn't right for the season, and altering it in some way to make it wearable again. There are countless ways to upcycle, whether you want to use your sewing machine and a needle and thread or simply grab a pair of scissors. All you need to do is have a little creativity and some old clothes, and you’re ready to upcycle!
Sometimes you don’t need to alter or take away from an item of clothing as much as add a little something to it to turn it into something new and seasonal for spring. A plain short sleeve women's shirt is immediately improved by adding a little embroidery to the neckline or hem. A pair of jeans with a little spring-like stitching is a perfect way to change things up for the warmer seasons—adding a springy bunch of flowers or some sunshine to your denim can brighten them up. Adding sequins or sparkles to a shirt makes it a little more event-worthy, perfect for a spring party or picnic. It's a quick, fun way to change up your wardrobe just in time for the warmer seasons.
An even easier way to upcycle your clothing for the sewing-averse out there is to grab a pair of scissors and go for it. This is especially useful when transitioning from winter to spring, or from spring to summer because we all know, we want nothing more than to shed clothing as it gets warmer outside. A long-sleeve shirt you don’t love could turn into the perfect t-shirt for spring. Is a crewneck not working for you? Problem solved, turn it into a v-neck or scoop neck top. Leggings are suddenly a cute pair of bike shorts, and jeans become jorts in an instant. We love the messy DIY hemlines that this technique allows for, but you can always feel free to grab your sewing machine (or bring it to the tailor) to make a cleaner hem. A word to the wise: always cut off less than you think you should. You can always cut more, but you may not always want to wear that shirt as a crop top.
Bed sheets don’t always last forever—they rip, fade, or get stained—and that’s ok! But all that fabric doesn't have to go to waste. Turning sheets into lightweight spring pajamas feels like a natural choice since we already know we love sleeping in the fabric. There’s no limit to what you can do with them. A fun printed sheet can become your new favorite tank top or t-shirt, or a fun handkerchief for your hair. For advanced practitioners of upcycling, turn your old sheets into a fun spring dress that you can feel good about slipping into and showing off for friends.
Men’s clothing is so much fun to upcycle because there’s usually lots of room to play around with. Turn a loose-fitting button-down into a nightshirt—even better if it’s been used for years and is super soft and worn-in. You can also take that same shirt and turn it into a dress—either belted, or altered to be cinched at the waist—or, if it’s a heavier fabric like denim or thick flannel, make it into a cute cropped jacket. Men’s t-shirts have plenty of wiggle room too. It’s extra fun to turn a men’s graphic tee into a fitted v-neck by cutting the neckline and sleeves and then either tying it at the back, or altering it to fit you perfectly with a sewing machine, or a needle and thread.
There are many more ways to upcycle your clothes for spring, from transforming a dress you never wear into a fun top, to turning a pair of jeans that’s way too long into the perfect cropped pants. All it takes is some creativity and the willingness to turn something old into something new.