There’s nothing better than finding outfits for our little ones that look good and they love wearing. Then the bittersweet day comes when they grow out of them. If there are some items you want to hold on to, and some clothes of your own you don’t wear anymore, why not try giving them a makeover and a new lease of life? Let’s have a quick look at how upcycling can transform your favourite pieces and give them a bit more time in the family home.
What is Upcycling?
Upcycling is taking an item that might have had its day in its original form and transforming it into something more usable, presentable and, oftentimes, of greater value. This can be done using many DIY techniques and is fun to do as a personal project, or as a business.
Why is Upcycling important?
If you upcycle something, it means an item gets a new lease of life and something else doesn’t have to be made to take its place. It keeps cost, production, and waste right down.
Why is it Important to Upcycle kid’s clothes?
Our little ones grow so, so fast. We can wind up spending a small fortune if we don’t buy second hand or upcycle the clothes we have. Fashion is one of the biggest impacts on the environment and because children go through so many items in their first few years of life, it’s really important to try and cut back on the number of throwaway pieces when we can.
How to Upcycle kid’s clothes
Try out online sewing tutorials
If you’re new to sewing, or it’s been a while, why not try a quick and easy tutorial online? There are loads of courses you can join and YouTubers breaking down all kinds of techniques. Have a look at your local parents’ and children’s’ centres – sometimes the council offer weekly classes for just this sort of thing.
Combine clothing items together
If there are items you want to make bigger, longer, or simply add a new fabric or pop of colour to, don’t be afraid to combine items you already have. These can be other items that belong to your kids, or adult clothes. Work with the hems and you can add panels of different fabric easily. This is a great way to make that pair of shorts your son loves longer, by adding the legs from another pair or your daughter’s favourite dress wider or more up to date by sewing in fabric from a discarded top, for example.
Introduce Quirky Sewing Patterns
There are many websites where you can download PDF sewing patterns for all kinds of designs. You can combine different pieces, change the structure of an item, add length, sleeves – anything! Whatever your skill level is, there will be an upcycling pattern available for you.
If you or your partner have an old t-shirt that you don’t wear any more, you can take the neckline from that and upcycle it onto your child’s top. This is particularly good to do because their heads grow so big, so quickly, that often the rest of the top will fit but they can’t get their head through. There are plenty of websites with sewing patterns for just this kind of job. Any extra material you are left with, set aside for future upcycling projects.
Reuse Hems and Buttons
The goal is to create as little waste as possible and save money, so keep hold of all buttons, hemlines, and zips. You can reuse them on any garments you see fit. It doesn’t matter where they came from – now’s the time to think outside the box!
Reuse the details from other clothes items
There are many techniques you can adopt with reuse the details of other clothes times. Appliqué, patchwork, layering and tiers… Don’t be afraid to mix and match. If the fabric is very different, take in consideration they will require different sewing techniques and threads because you want to avoid pulling and stretching.
Enjoy the process and get your kids involved! There are so many techniques that don’t even need a sewing machine. Your little ones can paint on fabric you’re going to upcycle, and you’ll have some pretty unique pieces. There’s the amazing Japanese technique Tatakizome, or fabric pounding, that everyone will love. Go foraging for flowers and leaves, make some lovely patterns and place your fabric on top (linen works well). Using a rubber hammer, tap over the fabric until the dye of the foliage comes through and you can see the gorgeous shapes. There are ways to keep the dye lasting longer on the fabric, like soaking the linen in vinegar beforehand.
How to upcycle clothes for babies
Because their items are much smaller, it can be fun to explore crafting options with upcycled baby clothes. You can patchwork with your favourite pieces, create 3D letters with cut-up fabric, makes doll’s clothes… The list is endless. The baby clothes that you want to keep don’t have to spend the next 20 years in the loft.
How myTOT supports the reusability of kid’s clothes
We’re all about clothes having as many lives as possible, whether that’s in their original form or upcycled. The re-commerce community starts at home, with our mums and dads, and we support any way you guys think will make a garment last longer!
There is a whole world to explore with upcycling, with so many techniques and ideas waiting to be discovered. Don’t be afraid to start small and simple, ask for help and try out different ideas. And where you can, get your littles one involved, so they can see and appreciate the process. If we can avoid throwing things away, we might as well try!