An Easy To Follow 5-Step Guide To Upcycling Your Unused Clothes


Every year, there comes a time when I open my closet and my clothes stare back at me in agony—clothes I’ve kept for years but don’t remember the last time I wore them. Either I have sentimental value attached to certain pieces, or I love a particular pattern, and I just can’t seem to let them go. Enter upcycling.


A few years ago, upcycling became my wardrobe’s best friend. It started with just me, my scissors, and a sea of unused clothes. Today, it’s a bit more structured than that (the keyword being “bit”).

The art of upcycling is a creative process heavily dependent on making the most of what you have. It leaves little room for being unoriginal and, more often than not, requires a solid vision and room for error. If practised well, upcycling could become your go-to art to spruce up your wardrobe while remaining sustainable. 

In this guide, I will explore the transformative power of upcycling, offer practical tips and creative inspiration for you to revamp your closet just the way I do so that your clothes never go out of style. 

Step 1: Assess Your Wardrobe

The first step in your upcycling journey is to take stock of your wardrobe. Dive into the depths of your closet and unearth those forgotten treasures—old sarees, worn-out kurtas, and faded jeans—that hold the potential for reinvention. Assess each garment with a critical eye, considering its condition, fabric, and potential for transformation.

Step 2: Choose Your Upcycling Projects

Once you’ve identified the pieces you want to upcycle, think about what you’d like to turn them into. 

If you’re just starting, then consider your style, current trends, and practicality. For instance, old dupattas can be turned into scarves or cushion covers, while oversized shirts can be transformed into crop tops or dresses.

If you’re a seasoned seamstress, then consider, for instance, the timeless elegance of the saree—the quintessential Indian garment that weaves together tradition and modernity with each drape. Too often, these sarees find themselves relegated to the confines of our closets, their vibrant hues and intricate patterns fading into obscurity. Yet, these sarees can be reborn as chic blouses, stylish dresses, or even a sharara set, breathing new life into our wardrobes while honouring our heritage. 


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Step 3: Gather Your Supplies

Before diving headfirst into your upcycling projects, make sure you have the necessary supplies at hand. Basic sewing tools such as needles, thread, scissors, and pins are essential, along with any additional materials needed for embellishments or finishing touches. Stock up on buttons, ribbons, patches, and fabric paints to add flair to your creations and make them truly one-of-a-kind.

Step 4: Educate Yourself

Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a novice crafter, there’s always something new to learn in the world of upcycling. Take advantage of the wealth of resources available online, from YouTube tutorials to DIY blogs, to expand your repertoire of skills and techniques. Experiment with different sewing methods, learn how to mend and alter garments and discover innovative ways to breathe new life into old fabrics.


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A post shared by JA Academy (@ja_academy_)

Step 5: Dive Into Your Upcycling Projects

With your supplies at the ready and your newfound knowledge in hand, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get down to business. Start small with simple projects like transforming a t-shirt into a tote bag or upcycling a pair of jeans into shorts. As you gain confidence and experience, challenge yourself with more ambitious endeavours, such as creating a patchwork quilt from old sarees or repurposing a salwar kameez into a stylish ensemble.

The humble salwar kameez, once a staple of everyday attire, often falls out of favour as trends evolve. Yet, within its folds lie endless possibilities: the fabric can be repurposed into kurtis, skirts, or even accessories like bags or pouches, offering a fresh perspective on traditional attire.

But upcycling extends beyond the realm of ethnic wear, encompassing every garment that graces our closets. Old jeans can be transformed into shorts, skirts, or jackets with a bit of cutting and sewing, while worn-out t-shirts can find new purpose as tote bags or patchwork quilts. The possibilities are as boundless as our imagination, limited only by the constraints we impose upon ourselves.

So, here’s some inspiration for you to start your very own upcycling journey: 

- Fashion Writer

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