How to upcycle clothes like an absolute pro

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  • Time to give old clothes a new lease of life

    Whether you’ve got old clothes you don’t want, or have picked up a bargain at your local charity shop but aren’t sure what to do with it, don’t throw it out, because chances are you can create something fabulous with it. All you need is a sewing kit and a bit of imagination.

    We asked the British Heart Foundation Merchandiser Donna McGinnigle to share her tips as part of The Big Stitch campaign, which encourages shoppers to pop into a BHF shop, buy an item and upcycle it, utilising sewing and dressmaking skills at any level.

    Think about the style you want to achieve and be open-minded

    Whether it’s a lace collar or putting your own style stamp on a denim jacket with graffiti or badges – think of the trend you’re looking to add to your wardrobe so you have a clear vision before you start purchasing. By being open minded, it’s possible to incorporate your desired trend to alternative items such as a pair of jeans instead of a denim jacket – achieving a similar and wearable style.

    Be open to sizing

    With the selection of designer and high street brands on offer, alternate sizing can help create a variation of styles. Larger tops can be cut to create a cropped or fringed effect, smaller sizing can be customised to create slips or by adding extra fabric to the bottom of a top to create a peplum style. A size 12 at one brand may be a different fit for another, so it’s worth trying on a variety of sizes and thinking about how they can be incorporated into your wardrobe by making simple additions and personalisation.

    upcycling tips

    Think about the area when buying vintage

    It will come as no surprise that each area, city and region will offer different collections depending on the demographic of the donators. Think about what it is you’re looking for and whether that area includes your desired demographic. This will ensure that your chosen shop includes styles you are seeking and items you are likely to wear time and time again.

    Look past simple items

    There is so much amazing fabric, material and resources that upcycling is an amazing way to create what you really want. Take a simple item and think how it can be re-purposed to suit you. Don’t waste what is already available and do something different.

    Be adventurous

    With low price tags, charity shops offer the perfect solution to get adventurous and experiment with customisation without breaking the bank. Step out of your comfort zone and try your hand at something new. Whether it’s using a sponge to bleach denim shorts and create an ombre effect, adding a flower crown to a wide brim hat for festival style or creating a cold shoulder by cutting out panels on a dress, the customisation options are vast and enable shoppers to try new styles without the guilt.

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