Art by Jennifer Avendano
Story by Gracie Vanover
Across the world, different people use old clothes in a variety of ways. Dresses can become a shirt or jeans can become a pair of shorts. There are thousands of options for anything in the closet.
Upcycling is defined by dictionary.com as reusing a product and making its value higher or equal to its original value. With the rise of upcycling and other environmentally friendly recycling methods, clothes become repurposed and take on a beautiful new form.
The beauty of upcycling is that your options really are endless,” said Jessica Murray who is a writer for savethestudent.org. Murray says it really lets someone’s creative side let loose.
In order to upcycle, some basic tools needed are scissors, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), and the fabric intended to be used. Once the needed materials are acquired ,then plan out what design or pattern is desired for the project.
“Along the technical execution [the sewing], there is always another side of the coin,” said Mariana Kirova from ecofashionsewing.com, “And this is the design.”
When the plans have been made and the materials are collected, the fun can begin. For example, when taking a dress to be made into a t-shirt, start to measure the person who the shirt is being made for. Make sure that all the measurements are marked for parts such as circumference of the torso area or whatever areas chosen.
“Before doing anything with clothes, though, I use scissors or my seam ripper to remove notions like buttons and zippers, then I save those items in small jars for reuse later,” said Danielle Pientka who runs diydanielle.com.
Next, everything is now measured so cutting the fabrics and patterns can begin. Make sure the cutting is precise and accurate to the outline created for the design. Using or borrowing a steady hand from a friend will be the best option for clipping out the planned clothing piece.
“Once I remove the notions, I cut the fabric into strips or into one big cut of fabric to be used on a project,” said Pientka. “That cut of fabric can be folded and placed with all of my other fabrics.”
Once the pattern has been cut out, then the process proceeds to sewing the
fabric together. How it is sewed can vary due to personal preference or is required for said design. Make sure when sewing that the holes needed for body parts, such as arms, are closed up.
“The last thing you want is to run into challenges that exceed your sewing confidence, thus leaving you with an unfinished project,” said Murray. “If you stick to previously applied and checked sewing techniques, you’ll feel much more satisfied from your final result.”
After the piece has been sewn together, the true fun can begin. With the heavy
duty tasks completed, one can begin to decorate. Little bits like glitter, pearls, or whatever one can imagine can be added to make the piece truly one-of-a-kind.
Although the process is very tedious and nerve-wracking at times, there are a
multitude of benefits to upcycling. It is not only recycling clothes and saving our environment, but it also expresses the creativity that is individuality.