Upcycle! The Best Way To Save Cash For Your Stash

Continuing my post on having a small sewing budget...
The absolute best way to find good quality material at a bargain price, is to UPCYCLE!
In the online sewing community, generally everyone knows what an upcycle is. But you would be surprised how many times I get asked, "what is an upcycle?". Upcycling basically means that you take an old item of clothing, or even an old sheet, cut it up and make it into something new. Its like recycling :)
Here is my growing upcycle pile. I just spotted a towel which isn't meant to be in there...

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Look in your local op shops/thrift stores for good quality items, the best way to do this is to check the brand label and care label. This will immediately tell you if the item is worth buying or not.

You can find absolute bargains this way. For example, I purchased a 100% linen shirt in a size XL. That linen would have been costly to buy new, but I got it for 50c! It became some run around shorts for my son. I even used one of the buttons. 50c for some shorts is a bargain!

Clean Slate Shorts

Just think how much fabric is in some adults clothing items. For example a woman's maxi skirt or a large pair of men's pants. Try and adjust your eye to just see the fabric alone.
Do you like the print? Is there any holes? What can I make it into?
Possibilities are endless. Below I am using an old shirt of my dad's to test a pants pattern.

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Don't forget to pick out the zipper of any pants you upcycle. You could save your future self $2.

Collect all the buttons, they can be an expensive part of a project. If you are browsing a second hand store, and you see an item with fabulous buttons for a few dollars, buy it. There is every chance that in Spotlight or your local fabric store, similar buttons would be more than $1 each (each!!).

Buy patterns for $1 second hand. Even if the style is a bit dated, is the basic shape okay? With a bit of Google research you can modify any pattern to make it look more modern.

While many of us do this already, have you warned your family members not to donate clothing without letting you pick through first? My friends now know to bring me any good stuff they are wanting to pass on.

And while you're in a thrifty mood, why not check your own wardrobe for things you don't fit in anymore or you never wear, and turn them into something your kids will actually make use of. The outfit below was made from women's clothing items, except the pocket which came from an old onsie.

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Oh and lets not forget! That handbag that's due to go in the trash? Holes in the bottom and the handles worn thin? Well pick out the magnetic clasps and zip before you throw it away. Don't throw away the hardware either. You never know when you might need these things and I'm sure you could dream something up as you take the time to do it.

What upcycle projects do you love? x


  1. I must admit I haven't really done many upcycles. Probably my favourite thing I've done is I made a library type tote for my daughter after she found a Wiggles t-shirt at the op shop. It was too small for her but she was very keen on it, so I bought it for about 20c and cut the Wiggles motif off, appliqued it to the front of a calico bag I made, and appliqued her name in big letters made from scraps to make it personalised. She still loves it!

  2. I made a rag quilt out of flannel and old denim jeans, other than that I've not really upcycled clothing.

  3. I love upcycling! Some of my favourite things to use are old jeans and tees...usually hubby's! Also woollen blankets. I've done heaps of things with those. Ironing board covers, oven mitts, baby grobags and even a coat for myself!