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Upcycling clothes!

 
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Great thread!
I love both knitting and sewing, and for both I like to use sustainable material: good organic wool, organic cotton or give-away clothing to repurpose.

From two dress shirts (belonged to the husband of my piano teacher, who manages to poke holes into the shirt elbows) I made two classic boxer shorts for my husband:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/two_tango/49247046446/in/dateposted-public/ (can't get an embedded pic for this one)

And some woven cotton tops she no longer uses (and once had sewn up herself) got converted into grocery bags.
Here you can see one of the original tops and one of the resulting bags.


I also make bags with donated jeans, or I convert biggish adult jeans to little boy jeans for my youngest son.
I am sure there is a lot more I did with donated garments, but boxers and bags are the things I most often do.
People know that I reuse garments and other fabric and save it for me - sometimes too much!
 
Anita Martin
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There is another project I wanted to show you because it really turned out cute.
A pair of corduroy pants ended up as a hat this summer (for a theme-based summer camp):


And I forgot to mention that I make most underwear for the family, not only boxers.
The panties for the rest is made out of old T-shirts.
 
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I originally made this post under the 'making your own clothes' thread but feel it is more appropriate here.  (I have asked the mod to delete this post on that thread, to avoid duplication).

I like adapting clothes (obtained cheaply at charity shops/jumble sales so mistakes are not costly!) e.g. where I like the material but not the end product.

I transformed a long maxi skirt into a shorter skirt with a matching top....even had a little material over to make a matching necklace!  The straps were from some scraps I had.





my-adapted-outfit.jpg
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Anita Martin
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As there were questions how to get started with sewing, here is my own story:

I took a sewing class in the year before going to uni (a gift from my grand aunt). I have learned valuable basics back then, a long time before the internet.

Then for a long time I did no sewing. I restarted with "real" patterns for clothing, somewhat frustrating as my bodysize and shape is not considered in the patterns from the big companies (I am too small and slim). This got better when indie pattern-makers offered a bigger range of sizes.
And when I changed my lifestyle to being (still) more sustainable, I started with repurposing clothes. What gave me a lot of courage was this book:
https://www.amazon.de/war-einmal-ein-Hosenbein-gebrauchten/dp/3258600090

I am not sure if you can access the "look into the book" feature from outside Germany. Well, that book deals about how to repurpose all kinds of garments: jeans, pants, blouses, skirts, tablecoths etc. to make pyjamas, children skirts, aprons, bags, pillows etc. It gives basics on sewing and pattern-making. I had a lot of fun starting to draft patterns on newspaper.
And when the fabric was gifted it is even easier to try out cutting and sewing.

Maybe there are similar books in English?
 
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Amy Francis wrote:
I like adapting clothes (obtained cheaply at charity shops/jumble sales so mistakes are not costly!) e.g. where I like the material but not the end product.


I think I have a piece of used clothing in my fabric bins of that same print because I liked it too! If not that exact one, so close I can't tell it apart without digging it out and comparing it. Good taste in prints!! :D and lovely upcycle work! :)

 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

Amy Francis wrote:
I like adapting clothes (obtained cheaply at charity shops/jumble sales so mistakes are not costly!) e.g. where I like the material but not the end product.


I think I have a piece of used clothing in my fabric bins of that same print because I liked it too! If not that exact one, so close I can't tell it apart without digging it out and comparing it. Good taste in prints!! :D and lovely upcycle work! :)



Yes it was a fairly familiar print a few years ago - maybe Monsoon?  I am also a fan of your creations; you come across as an interesting person!  I love eccentrics (I am one too, e.g. ex hippy and still celebrating colours!)  I take much delight in what makes us individuals rather than favouring conformity and living in dullsville!

🌈

 
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Y'all may recall I made a pair of warm leggings out of a size 3x men's sweater a couple of years ago.


I made them to wear under my snow pants, and they are excellent for that. This winter I have been feeling cold, and I put them on in the house, OH MY, I'm addicted. I put a pair of sweats over them to keep them somewhat clean. Whoo! I need more of these, they are too comfy, I won't take them off to wash :D
I went to a thrift store yesterday and paid 25 cents each for two size 2 or 3X men's sweaters, both really heavy 100% cotton.

This idea is REALLY working well, I think y'all need to try it if you get cold.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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This summer I'm building our home, and I always need more pockets when I work. I was at a thrift store and I saw this vest, it has 11 pockets!!



I need more big pockets, and all of those pockets are on the front and that vest (which is too big for me, which means good air flow on hot days) was dragging toward the front due to weight of pocket crap. So I added more pockets on the back. It's hard to see exactly how it works, so I marked them out on this picture:



At top is two deep pockets, they hold things like a hammer or channel locks really well, and are easy to get things out of, they work like a back scabbard for a sword. The bottom pocket is one huge pocket that runs the whole width and holds things like a T square really easily. There are a couple of smaller pockets on top of that one, for smaller tools.

This is what it looks like without the markings, it came out well. That fabric is one of the sturdiest cloths I have ever tripped over, I have about 5 yards of it stashed, I wish I had a 20 yard bolt of it, it's really sturdy, as well as lightweight, and flexes and sews easily. I make shopping bags etc out of it, and have not managed to rip one yet, despite putting all KINDS of things in them (like power tools....) It's my favorite, and i expect it will hold up well.


 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:At a thrift store I paid 4.00 for the heaviest flannel sheet set I have ever met, queen, deep pocket.


Hi Pearl, you did an excellent job. How did you get the color so evenly? Did you use a washing machine?  Or you own a big tub that the dye won't  stain?
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:My favorite petticoat started life as a thrift store dust ruffle :) The skirt part is over full circle, the lace is gathered on to it. It fluffs REALLY nicely! Got a lot of attention as part of something I wore to a Steam-O -Rama, Steam Tractor show a while back. Always a popular thing when I wear it, and I wear it a lot.

I saw a second hand store once that wasn't open (rats!) called Rust and Lace. That is SO my kind of place!! I hope to get back to it one of these days.



Oh man, that's genious! I'm a bigger gal and finding petticoats is always so expensive! Making them from scratch is a pain, but I never thought of using a dust ruffle as a starting point! That's brilliant and I can't wait to go rummaging through the thrift store bedding now!
 
Carolyne Castner
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This is such an awesome thread!!

Most of the sewing that I do on a day to day basis is repair-work: husband's shirt had a button fall off, daughter's pants ripped a seam, etc. But I do lots of projects around the house too. Our cloth napkins were all sewn from some fun scrap fabric, and our house-rags are all made from a nice thick purple towel set I found at the thrift store. I sew or crochet/knit lots of toys and bedding for our animals and foster-kittens.

My mom and grandmother started teaching me to sew when I was about 4 years old. I was given a giant blunt darning needle, some yarn, and some old knitted washclothes and they showed me how to sew to pieces together. From there I started sewing velcro onto my babydoll clothing, and helped with cutting pattern parts and piecing them together for my mom to sew. I did hand sewing until I was about 8 years old, then they decided I was old enough to start learning the machine. They also taught me embroidery and tried to teach me knitting. (The knitting didn't take, and I didn't get it figured out until my very patient aunt helped me one Thanksgiving when I was about 14).

By the time I was in my tweens I was sewing from patterns (with mom's oversight); The rule was I always had to be supervised when using her machine, but could sew anything I wanted if I was working by hand. I had a number of skirts and dresses in my closet that had been completely made by hand, and was always so proud when I wore them.

Both Grandma's got together and bought me a sewing maching for Christmas when I was 15. It wasn't an exceptional machine but I still have it. It is definitely one of those machines with lots of plastic parts, so I've had to get it repaired quite a bit over the years. My main workhorse is a Kenmore from the 70s that a friend gifted to me when she couldn't figure out how to use it.

I don't know that I have a lot of pictures of stuff I've remade from other clothing, but I've got lots of pics of repairs and handmade clothing! I'll dig some out a little later and get some pics posted.
 
Pearl Sutton
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May Lotito wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:At a thrift store I paid 4.00 for the heaviest flannel sheet set I have ever met, queen, deep pocket.


Hi Pearl, you did an excellent job. How did you get the color so evenly? Did you use a washing machine?  Or you own a big tub that the dye won't  stain?


I used a washing machine. Those sheets are huge and thick, no way I was going to get a decent dye anywhere else.  I kept resetting it to agitate for a total of 45 mins or so. And that's a dharma proicon dye, deep purple :D
Lovely sheets, I adore them! :D
 
Carolyne Castner
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Here’s a skirt I made a few years ago out of an old too-small pair of jeans!

There’s also a pic of a fun little underbust waistcoat that was part of a ren-faire costume. Looks like the rest are all in boxes; lost a bunch of weight recently and haven’t had a chance to resize them yet!

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Pearl Sutton
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I bought some stretchy pants cheap (.25 cents, I think) and put pockets on them. They are just a patch type, but I made them a bit narrower at the top, so they flex well with the pants, lay flat, and don't drop things. Due to the way the pants fit, I made them wider than usual. I'm really liking them!



 
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I had to search for this thread. It wasn't in fiber arts but in recycling!

I changed a man's shirt into a lady's blouse.
I almost 'ripped' this shirt apart for the fabric. But when I saw how beautifully made it was, I decided only to change it a little, so I could wear it.
First removed all buttons. I didn't like them (white plastic). Because the shirt was so well made, I could use it inside-out. So the new buttons could come on the side that was the inside ... and so it became a real lady's blouse! Of course I did more, a lady's blouse needs to fit, to have the right 'curves'.


First with pins and then with basting stitches I made the needed seams. Tried them, they were right, then I stitched them on the machine (sorry, no photo)


I put on new buttons (see more detailed in 'PEP straw textiles: sew on a button'). Ready, new blouse!
 
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Wow. I'm not as talented as any of you. I wish you were closer or i had more talent. I do make things from old clothes. We're reupholstering our dining room chairs with fabric from overcoats (tweeds) and I used to make tshirt yarn rugs. The two best are supposed to be below. I can't get the images to load... ARG!

The problem with these rugs is that when they get used, they get dirty and the dirt just doesn't come out! On the other hand, the tshirt yarn is handy for tying up bundles of rags, sticks, etc.
 
Anita Martin
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OK, not strictly clothes upcycling but aprons:

My husband brought two of these aprons from a catering event, not sure how you call them: the only cover you from the waist downwards. Not enough coverage for me.

So I decided to convert them to aprons with a whole front.
The first one I cut into two rectangles. The result is ok although I shouldn't have trimmed the edges off the lower part.
The other apron I just switched from "landscape" to "portrait" and folded over the upper edges to form a tunnel for the bands. I like this style as on the Purl Soho website:
https://www.purlsoho.com/create/2017/05/24/adjustable-aprons-in-daily-linen/

Clean simple pattern with minimal sewing.
sch-rze_vorher.JPG
aprons before
aprons before
sch-rze_probe.JPG
trying out the proportions
trying out the proportions
sch-rze1.JPG
model 1
model 1
Sch-rzen.JPG
model 2
model 2
 
Anita Martin
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My boy had outgrown a sweatshirt (which we had bought secondhand). I listed it online as a free giveaway, but in almost two months nobody inquired. So I decided to cut it up and sew him underwear.
I have a nice pattern that works great for him and I keep coming back to it.
DSC_5960.JPG
finished boxer
finished boxer
DSC_5962.JPG
boxer with scraps from the original sweatshirt
boxer with scraps from the original sweatshirt
 
Anita Martin
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Thanks for the apples, but there are far better sewing projects in this forum! But great that you like them :)

I also found a half cut-up T-shirt in navy and a too small sweatshirt in navy with print, so I got to use some colour combinations navy-chocolate. I made a total of four. That's enough for the moment... (next in line is oldest daughter).

The first model (no pic) was not so nice. I need some ramp-up time to do diligent sewing.
For the first pair of boxers I did the cutting out of patterns hurriedly, I didn't really match the thread colour and used too little pins, did not iron the leg openings. The elastic stitching shows some bobbin thread colour due to tension problems.

The next three got better and look good in my eyes.
For the latter three I also folded over the elastic in order to encase the raw upper edge (sew it from the inside, flap over to the outside, zig-zag around the lower edge).

DSC_5968.JPG
colour-blocking
colour-blocking
Innenseite.JPG
inside view
inside view
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:I am a dumpster diver, recycler, thrift store type, and I sew.



I have never gone dumpster diving before, though my husband has casually picked some things out of his apartment dump back in the day.
What does this look like for you? Where do you dive for clothing/fabric?
I live fairly close to a large outlet mall, would they just dump out of season clothing out back?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Rebecca Blake wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:I am a dumpster diver, recycler, thrift store type, and I sew.



I have never gone dumpster diving before, though my husband has casually picked some things out of his apartment dump back in the day.
What does this look like for you? Where do you dive for clothing/fabric?
I live fairly close to a large outlet mall, would they just dump out of season clothing out back?



Outlet malls, if they dump anything, it's things that are damaged. They tend to not toss much. Might be worth looking, but the ones I have seen don't do it. And depending on your area, they might lock their dumpsters.

The world has changed, I'm cautious of teaching anyone dumpster diving these days, too many possible contaminants. I'm in the habit of always wearing disposable gloves, assuming everything is a biohazard, and REALLY watching what exactly I am doing and touching, and knowing what trash to look in and what not to, but that's hard to teach. Depending on where you are, used needles, bedding used by sick people, and body wastes are very likely to be in there. As well as the standard hazards of cat litter, broken glass, and dead animals. These days I'm most likely to look for things like reusable containers, building supplies, and things that need repair, stuff I can sterilize, basically.

Not sure, with what's going on in the world these days at the schools, if this is accurate anymore, but students in the off campus apartment complexes at big universities tended to toss a LOT of things at the end of the spring semester. Wash it all in hot water, bleach if you can, and don't touch ANYTHING that looks iffy in any way shape or form.

Right now, if I wanted to come up with all the cheap fabric I can eat, I'd hit one of the really low end thrift stores, not Goodwill etc, but the places that have stacks of donations in piles, that are utter chaos to go into. They are often run by charity organizations, and end up with more fabric items than they can deal with, and will quite often take a flat price (make it a fair one!) for a pile.

I'm currently in an itty bitty town in Missouri, and there are two local thrift stores that get donations, they tend to end up with lots of stuff when people die, including whole fabric stashes from older ladies who sewed. I get some nice fabrics there, at great prices. 6 yards of dark blue corduroy for 2.00, etc. Someone bought it for something they never made, and it ends up there. Really worth learning all the weird grubby thrift stores in your area, they get a lot of interesting things.

Remember if you are upcycling clothes to look for parts you like. One of my favorite shirts (it's pictured in this thread I think, sterling blue tank top with bright blue lace work on it) got it's lace from the ugliest children's dress I have ever seen, I felt sorry for any child who had to wear it. Don't just look at the things in your size, look for things you can work with. I was thrift store shopping with another permie recently, it was fun, we were debating whether things were wool, or silk, and if it could be taken apart or not. I don't think either of us got anything to use as it was made. I'm not sure either of us checked a size either. Wasn't what we were concerned with.

Don't forget some things can be dyed too. I change colors to be what I want, and if it doesn't take the dye right, oh well, it wasn't an expensive item I just messed up, and it might be usable still. I bought a silk sweater that still had Cabella's tags on it, white (I do close to zero white) I tried to dye it turquoise, blew it, it came out lavender. Well. Guess I have a lavender sweater (and I learned that the water in Missouri is a very different pH than the water I was used to dyeing with in NM.) Cotton, linen, and rayon all dye easily, silk is weirder, and polyesters don't dye at all. Blends will dye weird.

But do be careful of trash these days, some parts of the world are REALLY flippin iffy right now, and if you wouldn't go into their home and sleep on their floor, DON'T dig in their trash. That rules out most places. The world has changed.....

 
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I'm pretty sure I've posted stuff about this somewhere else on this site, but I'll drop the idea here too.  Many people's closets, and many thrift stores, garage sales, and dumpsters have an overabundance of perfectly good T-shirts.  T shirt fabric is unique in that it often won't fray or unravel easily along a cut edge, and so this improves the possibilities for making them into other things with minimal sewing.  Whole books are written about this...called the "Generation T" series, featuring all sorts of other clothes, bags, accessories etc.  I first saw the possibility of this years ago living in communes several women would cut out a T-shirt into a halter top in a few minutes!
 
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Happy to see ladies with great ideas. I enjoyed all of these clothing upcycling ideas, and I should say that I am a huge fan of upcycling jeans and t's.
 
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My local Salvation Army sells Tshirts for rags, to the local car dealerships, who buy them by the pound. When I thought that the rug making was going to become a business, I talked to them about it. They said they could get me some, almost once a month. So, ask what the thrift shops do with the extras that don't sell? Same idea as Pearl's but no dumpster diving involved. And, yeah, you may have to pay a little.

I asked Pearl for help and she needed more info about why I couldn't post an image here? So, I came to try it for the 3rd time; and of course, it worked!

The tshirt yarn is 2" wide when I cut it, 1" wide when it curls. The rug was half-hitched over a 1" wide black tshirt yarn core. I hated the lumps that the common joining (slitting a hole in each piece and use that to tie it together) made, so I stitched extensions on the pieces as needed.

J
1st-rug.jpg
The best of the tshirt yarn rugs!
The best of the tshirt yarn rugs!
 
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Love this thread! Here's a fun revelation I just had:

Leggings with holes in them go GREAT with socks with holes in them! This little piece of mending makes me so happy every time I wear these leggings.

 
Rebecca Blake
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Jill DiBiasi wrote:Love this thread! Here's a fun revelation I just had:

Leggings with holes in them go GREAT with socks with holes in them! This little piece of mending makes me so happy every time I wear these leggings.



I just adore your mushroom addition! I love little motifs like that but never would have had the idea to patch a hole with one like that, so thank you for sharing
 
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I don't upcycle; I downcycle. Any article of clothing that should not been seen in public does not get tossed out in the garbage, it gets used in gardening and other yardwork. Torn or holey jeans and shirts are great for getting dirty outside. They're still wearable, just not in town...

(I only posted in here ’cos this was referenced in today's daily-ish.)  
 
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I had some rayon and silk blouses in my closet that I wasn't wearing since I retired. They were originally from a thrift store anyway. I cut the blouses I to inch sized squares and stuffed a pillow. It is heavy but my head seems to love it.  I have some allergies to most pillows.
 
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miriam hawkins wrote:I had some rayon and silk blouses in my closet that I wasn't wearing since I retired. They were originally from a thrift store anyway. I cut the blouses I to inch sized squares and stuffed a pillow. It is heavy but my head seems to love it.  I have some allergies to most pillows.



Very creative solution to a very real problem! Thank you for sharing it, I'm not sure I'd have thought of it.
 
miriam hawkins
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My pillow can get a but lumpy but I just fluff it up a bit and I'm good again. It's not as soft as down but I can breathe. My head sweats from polyester pillows and any kind of foam triggers a no breathing episode. I wonder if cotton t-shirts cut up would work just as nice. I do lovey silk and rayon pillow.
 
Pearl Sutton
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I was talking to someone in PM about this thread, she mentioned the organization behind what it takes me to make so many things pull together to make my unique wardrobe look. I replied to her, she suggested I post part of it into this thread, in case it helps others see how I think about it, so maybe they can use parts of it. We were talking about this post  https://permies.com/forums/t/92062#755660  So unedited, here it is, for what it's worth to anyone!


The organization behind all this is so complex I have never even tried to explain it on permies. I have certain colors, sizes, styles I wear, and I look for things that fit that pattern, all or part, and see what can be changed to make it work. It ends up with things being in my closet for 2 years before the rest of the outfit presents itself. I knew what the rest would look like, just hadn't found it yet  

That tank top I dyed turquoise in that post, if you look at my profile, it's what I'm wearing with that patterned skirt. I had made the skirt out of fabric I adore, nothing I had really matched it perfectly. The white tank top didn't match anything I needed, BUT it could be dyed to match that skirt, I bought it just to fill that niche (shirt the right size, fit, style, price) and made it fit the part it didn't fit (color) and it looks perfect. Had the matching hat, it's one of my colors styles etc, so I had got it when I saw it. But attempting to explain how that means I know all the things that I'm looking for when I'm at a thrift store, know my exact shades, know what I can and can't modify, and what is or is not worth working with, at all times, with no list... I don't know how to write it up!

It's complex to see the thought behind it, my compliments on seeing it! Most people think it just happens, no, it ain't just magic, I do this consciously. I'm told it looks like magic to some folks, no, just my odd brain making what I want in the world.


 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Pearl Sutton wrote:...

The organization behind all this is so complex I have never even tried to explain it on permies. I have certain colors, sizes, styles I wear, and I look for things that fit that pattern, all or part, and see what can be changed to make it work. It ends up with things being in my closet for 2 years before the rest of the outfit presents itself. I knew what the rest would look like, just hadn't found it yet  

That tank top I dyed turquoise in that post, if you look at my profile, it's what I'm wearing with that patterned skirt. I had made the skirt out of fabric I adore, nothing I had really matched it perfectly. The white tank top didn't match anything I needed, BUT it could be dyed to match that skirt, I bought it just to fill that niche (shirt the right size, fit, style, price) and made it fit the part it didn't fit (color) and it looks perfect. Had the matching hat, it's one of my colors styles etc, so I had got it when I saw it. But attempting to explain how that means I know all the things that I'm looking for when I'm at a thrift store, know my exact shades, know what I can and can't modify, and what is or is not worth working with, at all times, with no list... I don't know how to write it up!

It's complex to see the thought behind it, my compliments on seeing it! Most people think it just happens, no, it ain't just magic, I do this consciously. I'm told it looks like magic to some folks, no, just my odd brain making what I want in the world.



Pearl, you call it 'complex'. You might be right, I don't know how others think. To me it sounds 'logical'. Probably it's my way too. Most of my wardrobe is second-hand. But I never just buy anything that's in the thrift store or on the flee market. I look for the right materials, colours (shades, hues) and size. I only buy natural materials (rayon or viscose is barely possible), natural (undyed, unbleached) and 'autumny' colours. The size has to be a little wide, I don't like tight fits.
I know all about materials, it was part of my education and I have a feeling for it.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Made for use in my (new!) allotment garden: one kneel pad, two sit-upons and a picnic cloth. Explanation: kneel pad is for working in the garden sitting on my knees, sit-upons are to sit upon while having a break and then the picnic cloth can be used to put food, drinks a.a. on. But the cloth can be used for other purposes too.
Materials: 1 old rain poncho (zipper didn't work anymore and it was used already before as a cloth on the ground) and parts of a wool sweater someone washed in the washing machine (so it felted).

 
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I really love this thread. I "upcycle" clothing all the time. It is necessary as most things in the store don't fit me anymore lol. So, I go to a thrift store (pre-pandemic) find things I like and change them. Maybe they are too tight in some places, and/or too loose in others. For dress-up I find dresses, cut the top part off and use the bottom as a skirt. I have adjusted t-shirts by adding a band of knit fabric on the side seams in order to make the shirt bigger for "the girls" lol. I love being "thrifty", industrious and not wasteful.
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Rebecca Blake
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Mari Henry wrote:I really love this thread. I "upcycle" clothing all the time. It is necessary as most things in the store don't fit me anymore lol. So, I go to a thrift store (pre-pandemic) find things I like and change them. Maybe they are too tight in some places, and/or too loose in others. For dress-up I find dresses, cut the top part off and use the bottom as a skirt. I have adjusted t-shirts by adding a band of knit fabric on the side seams in order to make the shirt bigger for "the girls" lol. I love being "thrifty", industrious and not wasteful.



I have a dress I got from my cousin I would NEVER wear but have been keeping to make a skirt with like you said! Only I never had a sewing machine until now so it has been laying around for ‘one day’ . And now that one day is here I can’t get to the dress because my daughter somehow managed to lock it into the piece of furniture I was storing it in! Makes me laugh and cry all at once.. lol
 
Been there. Done that. Went back for more. But this time, I took this tiny ad with me:
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