Clothing Flips and Upcycling: Giving Old Clothes New Life


Courtesy of Devin Toolen

This cropped men’s sweater vest can look great over a turtleneck paired with a mini skirt and tights. 

Devin Toolen, Staff Writer

Have you ever bought something that quickly went out of style, and now you don’t know what to do with it? Or maybe you purchased an item without trying it on and it doesn’t fit you. Don’t stress, because there are a lot of easy ways to revamp clothes so that they are perfect for your wardrobe. Obviously, not everyone at Villanova has access to a sewing machine, or even knows how to sew for that matter. So, let’s go through some ways to upcycle your clothes without even needing a needle and thread. 

One of the easiest ways to flip something that you have is to simply cut it. You can use this method with really anything. Some examples include woven shirts, tees, sweater vests, jeans and skirts. The only issue with cutting clothing is a frayed hemline. With t-shirts, a cut hem is usually fine. However, with some materials, a frayed hem might pull and ruin the entire piece, so be careful with what you cut. 

Another upcycling hack is the addition of elastic waists. A lot of times when you buy thrifted jeans, it’s hard to find a pair that fits you perfectly. Similarly, jeans sometimes get stretched out and just don’t fit anymore. Because of this, something that I like to do is insert my own elastic waist. This might sound complicated, but it’s actually very easy to do. Go to a store like Joanne’s or Michaels to find elastic. Look for a size of an elastic waistband that would be smaller in height than the waistband of the pants you want to fix. With that, make small incisions on the inside of the waistband of the pants. Make these incisions on either side of the pants opening, and make sure not to cut all the way through to the outside. Then, take one end of the elastic, attach a safety pin to it and run it through one of the incisions made. By scrunching the elastic and pulling the safety pin through the waistband of the pant, you should be able to get the safety pin to the other incision, with the elastic trailing behind. As you pull the elastic through, give yourself enough extra to be able to tie the elastic tightly in the front of your waist, then cut the elastic where necessary. Once you have your pants on and before you fully zip or button them up, pull the elastic tightly, and it will cinch the pants around your waist to make them fit properly. Then, you can tie the ends in a bow and tuck the bow inside the pants. This is an easy way to make any type of pants fit your body perfectly. 

Do you remember when long skirts were a popular trend a few seasons ago? One might see a lot of long skirts in thrift stores because of their gradual fade-out. If you have one, don’t get rid of it, and if you see one you like while thrifting, pick it up. A long skirt can be transformed into something new with a simple ruching hack. Put the skirt on and with a large safety pin, gather some material on the inside of the left or right knee of the skirt, and pierce the pin through the material. Gather a few folds to give the skirt a ruched effect. Then, close the safety pin on the inside to complete the look. This is such a simple way to make an old skirt look like something completely new. 

Lastly, fan favorite hacks include tie dye, bleach dye or full dye clothing flip. If you have a plain piece of clothing that you want to change, or you’ve found something with a cool style but boring color at a thrift store, consider dyeing it a new color. Tie dyeing is relatively self-explanatory, as I’m sure we’ve all tied shirts in rubber bands and splashed them with various colors to make cool spiral effects. Bleach dyeing can be done the same way, just make sure to use a lot of bleach to get the full effect. As for full dyeing, go to a local Target and get the dye color of your choice. Mix the dye in a bucket of water and let the piece of clothing soak for at least a day. Then, after washing (wash alone to avoid color bleeding), the piece should be dyed a new color – this can be done with shoes as well.

Being able to revamp old pieces of clothing is exciting. Keep an open mind and be creative. When you thrift shop or even search through your closet, think about ways you can transform pieces. You might be able to create something uniquely yours.