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A Beginner’s Guide to Upcycling

Safety pins!! More safety pins!!


You love it, you hate it, but you don’t want to get rid of it. Tis’ the age-old dilemma of an avid shopper and a closet way overdue for spring cleaning. Trust me, I’ve been there. But don’t fret! There’s potential for treasure in your old, outdated fashion trash.

Just a few months ago, I had a pile of great (but not-so-great) clothes that I rarely wore, but I was reluctant to donate them. So, I looked into upcycling.

I was totally intimidated by the incredible creations of seasoned upcyclers and I was hesitant to try it myself . But a few loose threads later, I found myself redesigning my closet at light speed. So without further ado, here are my tips for baby upcyclers.

You Don’t Need to Sew

My biggest issue when I started upcycling was the fear of buying and using a sewing machine. They can be expensive and the E-word is repellent for a broke college student. That, and I could never beat my Haitian mom’s mad hand sewing skills.

Through this, I made friends with a little tool called fabric glue. Don’t worry about it looking unprofessional. Not everyone can be Vera Wang, unfortunately.

Here, I cut an old pair of jeans into shorts and cuffed it using fabric glue. I also had an old tube top that I didn’t know what to do with. So I sacrificed that one too and cut it into the shape of the back pockets and slapped them on with some glue.

( Christelle Pierre / Rowdy Magazine Online Writer )


Start With Sizing

You know that shirt or pair of pants that you grew out of, or never grew into? Yep, upcycling can cover that, too!

Downsizing is usually easier than upsizing, but most of the time it requires some sewing. Upsizing on the other hand, can be a little more simple.

I had this top that was much too tight on the chest but too loose on the straps. So I removed the straps and cut a straight line through the side seam to give me more room. I had some spare safety pins lying around, so I clipped them where I made the cuts to connect the two sides.

And voila! Like brand new!

( Christelle Pierre / Rowdy Magazine Online Writer )


Get Creative With It

I didn’t make these pants myself, but they’re a great example of how to get funky with your upcycling project.

There are some patches pinned onto the pant legs (safety pins for the win!) and a couple rips here and there. The person who upcycled these pants had a metal theme in mind, and executed it perfectly. Theming your project makes it so much more distinctly yours.

This pair of pants inspired me to match its energy. So I took an old crop top and went to town on it with a pair of scissors. Every act of creation is first an act of destruction, right? I copied the safety pin motif and stuck them all over the shirt and now I have the perfect top to match a perfect pair of pants.

( Christelle Pierre / Rowdy Magazine Online Writer )


Upcycling is not just an enriching activity, but it’s environmentally friendly and you can do it on a budget. So drive up to your nearest Joanne’s (or just use what you have at home) and get to being the baby fashion designer you’re meant to be.


Christelle Pierre is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When not writing, one can find Christelle holding a YA novel in one hand and an iced coffee in the other. She can be reached on Instagram @x.hristelle


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