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Upcycling clothes!  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I am a dumpster diver, recycler, thrift store type, and I sew. I have a few favorite clothes I have modified, rebuilt, whatever, I'm not a fan of the word "upcycled" but it's a word people understand. To me, upcycled is just a normal thing to do to things, and doesn't rate it's own trendy word. Thought I'd start a thread where we can show off things we do to clothes that need "something!"  

One of my favorites is a tank top from a thrift store that fits well, good color for me, boring, added the lace off the ugliest children's dress I have ever seen in a dumpster. I feel sorry for the child who was put in that dress, hopefully that pretty lace consoled her a bit, that was a hideous dress.


I turned an oversized men's sweater into warm leggings to wear beneath my snow pants! They work well, I made the waistline high so no drafts on my back, I had surgery there, left nerve damage and it always feels cold on my low back.


Every pair of jeans, camo pants, and skirt I own has pockets, and I add these to each item: a pocket for my phone (on my left) and a pocket for my fans I carry around (on my right.) This is a random pair of jeans off my floor, some have cute pockets, skirts usually have their own fabric pockets, but everything has these as well as regular pockets.


What have you done to clothes that weren't what you wanted them to be?
 
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Warning! Totally off topic, but where do you but your little fans? I haven't seen those in ages.
 
Pearl Sutton
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I have gotten them a couple of places, most recently Dollar Tree, and those places in the malls full of cheap jewelry "Buy any 6 items for $5.00!" Try any cheap Chinese import place they show up pretty randomly. We could probably order them in bulk, but I'd rather make better ones one of these days.

I'm addicted to them. Addicted enough that I sew pockets in for them :) I get them in lots of colors, match them to my outfits, sorta. Hard to match my camo + dirt work clothes, I have a gray lacy one that I claim matches :) The guys laugh at my fan, till they try it, then they start snagging it out of my pocket when they are hot.
 
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I especially like the leggings!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I especially like the leggings!


Trying on the men's sweaters at the thrift store was interesting...  Can I fit these over my thighs? Hard to try them on when they are being sweatersl :) was a lot easier when I got it cut apart.
 
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Leggings from men's sweaters!  That is the coolest idea I have heard of.

I love fans, too!

I have a caftan that I took the zipper off and opened the seem so it is like a robe so I don't have to put it on over my head.  Not cool like what you are doing.

Thanks for sharing.
 
Pearl Sutton
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I was putting away laundry this morning, and took a stack of pictures for y'all! The flash was being a PITA, the colors are all weird. Explanatory text is below each picture. All thrift store stuff, none over 1.00.


A collection of things that got dyed. From the left: turquoise shirt was white, matches a certain outfit now. Evil t shrt was white, that don't look very evil, basic tie dye on it. Butterfly shirt was bought just for the butterflies, was going to remove them, the shirt was an awful faded pale blue, like baby blue that got soaked in bleach, realized it was close enough to fitting to be worth adjusting, and dyed it turquoise. Much better! Belt was .. hm, not even sure of a color, sludgy greyish ick.


Some of the sunhats I wear! the purple one started life neon pink, but then got faded in the back of my car, the blue one was soft blue and also got faded. Rustoleum paint to the rescue! I love saying "why of COURSE I wear Rustoleum, don't you?"


Beautiful purple jacket I love, nowhere to put my hands! It got pockets!


This one just got done this week, and worn yesterday to a festival. The purple lace was lined with fabric the same shade of purple. You couldn't even see the lace much at all. Putting it over turquoise REALLY amped it up! Both skirts are full circle.


Another lace skirt, about 2013. It was a sickly shade of creamsicle orange, and had a weird waistband, no clue how it was supposed to be worn, and was too short. It got taken apart, the skirt dyed, the waistband redone with a piece of fabric the color of the shirt I would wear it with put into lengthen it, and a different underlayer added. Much nicer!


This shirt was cute when I bought it, but I realized I never grabbed it to wear, why not? It just doesn't dance. Too bright to be a work shirt, not interesting enough to be pretty. It got gold paint added to it, to add flair. Gets worn a lot now!


A random pile of pockets that have been added to pants, posing to show themselves off!


I dyed a white thrift store skirt for a friend's 8 year old :) She LOVED it!! Insisted on wearing it to her birthday party that afternoon, although her mom said "but it doesn't match the rest of your outfit!"

And not clothes, and not thrift store, but too cool to leave out...

Years of dumpster diving towels of all colors! I needed to do something to the chaos. Every towel that was anywhere from white to brown, to pink or yellow, all got thrown though magenta dye. Some of those are really nice thick towels, some are the light scratchy ones I like after I work. They all match to a point now. Hand towels and washcloths too!

Welcome to my closet!!
 
Pearl Sutton
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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.
 
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I had a pair of blue jeans that I continually decorated with house paint, fabric paint, pen-and-ink... but after 20 years or so, they fell apart. I cut them up for shorts, but then I felt it was a shame to waste the excess fabric. So I dyed the shorts and the extra pieces yellow-green (against the original blue); then I brought in pieces of a pair of black jeans that had also bit the dust; and pieced it all together into this pair of patchwork shorts.

I first got into designing my own clothing because everything in the stores was so boring. Now that online shopping is a thing, I have better options; but I still like to create unique items.
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Pearl, your posts about added pockets really spoke to me!  I don't like the word "upcycled" very well either but I can't think of an alternative off the top of my head so I'll just go with it too.  I almost never buy womens clothes anymore because they don't fit me as well as mens, and because they have no pockets or poor excuses for pockets.  I'm a pack rat so pockets, deep ones, are a necessity.  I wish I'd photographed a woman's parka that I bought back in the 80's and sewed pockets everywhere all over it.  Oh well... it lives on fondly in my memory.  It was a beautiful patchwork affair that became more so after my add-on pockets, and really warm.  

However I do have a photo of one of its successors, finally and reluctantly sent to the dumpster after decades of use.  This was a man's parka, the warmest coat I've ever owned, and it came with a myriad of wonderful roomy pockets, close-able with heavy duty snaps.  Still I added a couple pockets; the black one in lower right of picture was one of mine.  I made many repairs to the coat over time; the bright red little patch on my left sleeve was one repair of many.  The little dog (RIP sweet Brynnie) was "upcycled" too from a canine rescue, and I made some alterations to his little coat also.  My OTHER dog was the source of final destruction for my parka that eventually sent it to the landfill.  She was a terrible biter of clothes (not to be mean, just to get me to throw a ball for her) and she finally destroyed the right sleeve beyond the point of sewing repairs, so I resorted to duct tape to get more wear out of it.  She's pretty much outgrown the sleeve destructo phase finally, so hopefully my current coats will last the rest of my lifetime.  At 68 yrs old I'm striving for most of my earthly possessions to outlive me.

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Pearl, I think I want to be you when I grow up.  

As for a alternative to the word upcycled, I usually say refurbished.   Unless something is being put to a completely different use (the dustruffle/petticoat) repairing and upgrade just seems like sensible upkeep.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Casie Becker wrote:Pearl, I think I want to be you when I grow up.  


Thank you for the giggle Since you are one of the people *I* admire... this gets recursive!

As for a alternative to the word upcycled, I usually say refurbished.   Unless something is being put to a completely different use (the dustruffle/petticoat) repairing and upgrade just seems like sensible upkeep.


I think I just dislike trendy words.
I don't try to explain what I do to things in words much. If i say anything it's something like "oh, I took this  boring shirt that fits nice and put this lovely lace on it that I removed from a horrible dress!" I don't say it's upcycled etc. It just is itself. I don't name the food I cook either... "What is this?"  "dinner."
Just my own weirdness. Seems like if I name food, people have weird expectations "Coleslaw doesn't taste like this!" "No, I said kinda coleslawish stuff..." I gave up. I don't name my food, I don't name my work, except I have started using "bricolage" which at least has no expectations attached to it
Glad you like my work I don't like wearing anything anyone else has.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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I realized that the post above where I showed the things that have been dyed, I said a turquoise shirt was dyed to match a specific outfit, I have a pic of that outfit! I didn't like any of my shirts with the colors in this lovely skirt, so I dyed that comfortable white shirt to match it.
 
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