3 Ways To Upcycle Your Summer Wardrobe

Upcycling Your Old Clothes

upcycled clothingThe summer sun is finally here and it’s time to whip out your sunglasses and your sun friendly clothes. Whilst it’s always nice to rediscover old summer clothes, it is often the case that they are the wrong size, in worse quality than you remember or simply not in fashion anymore.

It easy to hit the shops to buy your new wardrobe but not only is that not cost effective, it can be difficult to navigate round the high street stores that are often recognised for using unethical production practices. A great way to reinvent your wardrobe in a cheaper, greener way is to upcycle your outfits.

Upcycling is the processes of taking something unwanted or unusable and converting it into a product of better quality and value and the practice has taken off in the art, music and fashion industry. Here are three quick, cheap and easy methods to up cycle some of those older, unloved pieces in your wardrobe.

1. Typography Shorts and Skirts

The perfect way to update your old denim shorts and skirts is to apply a little spray paint to them. It is possible to get ethical clothes paint, just be keen to keep an eye out for bottles marked ‘non-toxic’ as they are much better for the environment.

All you will need is:

  • Shorts or Skirt
  • Spray bottle filled with half bleach and half water
  • Paper
  • Pre-cut letter stencils
  • Non-toxic spray paint
  • -Old towel/bin bag

Lay down your old towel or bin bag to protect whatever surface your working on then place your shorts or skirt on top. Spray your 50/50 bleach and water mixture across the clothing on both sides, taking care to avoid getting it on your skin as it can irritate. Leave the bleach to sit for a while then thoroughly rinse the bleach out and leave them to air dry.

Your shorts or skirt should now be a few shades lighter thanks to the bleach! Next put some paper on the inside of the your clothes to prevent the paint bleeding through. Next tape your letter stencil to your clothing and begin to lightly spray your item with paint. Take care not to over saturate the fabric as it can bleed and ruin the design.

Leave the paint to dry completely before you remove the stencil to avoid smudging the image, then carefully remove and flip over to replicate on the other side. If you aren’t a fan of typography there is a multitude of different imagery you can apply to your shorts or skirt just by using different stencils and coloured paints.

2. Tart Up Your Tees

One quick Google will bring you a multitude of different ways to update your t shirts. If you have a tee that is far too big, carefully cut halfway up the side of the top then neatly tie it. This also works to make crop tops!

Another great way to update a boring top is to add bows or patterns to the sleeves or neckline. You can also add funky coloured pockets to update a t shirt and bring it back into fashion.

Tank tops and strappy tops can easily be updated. Simply snip the straps off as close to the hem as possible, then measure out a piece of ribbon, crochet or lace at the same length. Once you have the lengths right, cut and stitch the new fabric to replace the original straps. This can also be a great way of adding a subtle sensuality to otherwise ordinary bras or brassieres.

3. Torn, Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans have come in and out of fashion over the years, and this summer it seems that they’re well and truly in. Rather than buying a freshly torn pair for an extortionate price, it’s unbelievably simple to revamp some old jeans. All you will need is:

  • A pair of old jeans (light wash tends to look better when torn as there is less dye in the material)
  • Steel will
  • Sandpaper
  • Pumice stone
  • Pencil
  • Block of wood

Take your jeans and decide on a style. Do you want larger, gaping holes or just a slight fraying? Gather your materials together and lay your jeans on a flat surface. Using your pencil, mark a line on the jeans as to where you would like to rip.

Place the block of wood inside your jeans at the point that you want to distress it and use your abrasive tools to create friction by rubbing at the jeans. Alternate between each tool as you will find some are better than others at different stages of distressing.

Creating ripped jeans can be time consuming but there is always a sense of pride when you look at what you have created. Keep the friction and motion going and you’ll have frayed holes in no time!

Some of our Favourite Ethical Fashion and Upcycling Websites

There are some fantastic UK based ethical fashion and upcycling websites where you can find great ideas for re-purposing your old clothing. Check out some our favourites below!

Style Eyes


Run by Ceri, Style Eyes is a personal style blog with a focus on ethical fashion. Ceri loves fashion and clothes, but tries to minimise the environmental impact of purchasing new clothes by re-purposing what she already has, and by buying vintage, second hand and ethical clothing.

Eco Vintage


Eco Vintage is run by Katie Thomas; it is a platform for Katie to blog about the two things she loves the most; fashion and the environment. Her blog aims to show readers the intimate connection between fashion and the environment.

Moral Fibres


Moral Fibres is a green lifestyle blog run by Wendy. Readers will find all sorts of thrifty and easy hints and tips for living a greener life that won’t compromise their sense of style.

We’ve featured more great ethical fashion websites, HERE.

Ethical Clothing by Shirtworks

At Shirtworks, we love ethical fashion. We specialise in supplying and printing a wide-range of ethically sourced garments, perfect for complementing your upcycled and re-purposed wardrobe. To find out more about our organic, fair trade and ethical t-Shirt printing, please read our Ethics page, HERE.


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