Love Clothes Part III: Upcycling

Hi there, Tanita here with the third and last in the series of blog posts on the topic of clothes. Last time, I discussed the benefits of making and mending your clothes to make them last longer and today I’m going to focus upon upcycling your clothes. Be prepared to get your creative juices flowing as I show you three ways to transform a humble t-shirt and turn a tie into a toy snake!

What is upcycling?

Upcycling is a great way of finding a new purpose for your unwanted items. Under the upcycling philosophy every item has a value and can be re-used. According to Upcycle magazine upcycling is when you take clothes and other items that you no longer wear/use and give them a new lease of life. For example, you may have a gorgeous dress that no longer fits you or has a stain on it that you can re-fashion by using the fabric to make a cushion or accessory. Before buying something new or going to the charity shops, why not have a rummage in your cupboard and see what you already own that can be spruced up or changed completely? You may surprise yourself! If you have a favourite and/or sentimental item of clothing that reminds you of a particular event or time in your life you may be able to enjoy it again in a different way. Upcycling allows you to get creative and use your imagination.

Woman holding up t-shirt

Three ways to upcycle a t-shirt

I seem to have accumulated a large number of t-shirts that I only seem to wear for redecorating or lounging about the house! If you are in a similar position and have a number of t-shirts you rarely wear, why not try out some of these tips to upcycle them?

  1. Add sequins and ruffles

Upcycling a plain red and white top (like the one below) could be as simple as adding sequins and ruffles by hand. As you can see this enhances the overall look with some sparkle and decoration! As someone who swears by the rule that you can never have enough ruffles or sparkles, this upcycling project is right up my street! If your t-shirt has a stain or hole in it, you could also cover it using sequins and patches.


On the blog Copy Craft they show you how to add sequins to a top without the use of a sewing machine. This is great for those of us who want to upcycle but don’t have equipment to do it. All you need is a t-shirt, sequin trim, fabric glue, scissors, cardboard and a ruler and away you go!

  1. Change completely

Is a T-shirt always a T-shirt? Not when you upcycle! The humble t-shirt can be transformed into a cool scarf, bracelet or cowl. Ms Not So Perfect blog shows how to take an old t-shirt and change its use completely! She uses photographs to help you work through each of the steps which is helpful and effective. It would be a great feeling to surprise your friends when they ask you where you got your new scarf by saying that it used to be your old t-shirt!

Two women looking at tshirt

  1. Add a bow or buttons

If you have a t-shirt you no longer wear but like the pattern why not turn it into a bow to add to another t-shirt? The result can be sweet and feminine. In this useful tutorial, Melissa Espein shares a step to step guide showing how to make a bow and attach it to a t-shirt.

If these three ways to upcycle a t-shirt haven’t captured your imagination why not try out some of these rather random but fun ideas below. If you have kids, it might be an idea to get them involved in the process of making some of these items!

Fun Upcycling Projects

Cat Tent

If you have a cat you may want to try this upcycling trick and use an old t-shirt to make a cat tent/den! This innovative and creative way of using an old t-shirt looks great and will be a purrrrfect hiding place for your cat! My mum’s cat Bubble loves to find a cosy place to sleep for hours on end! The UpCycleThat website has easy to follow instructions on how to make this cat tent. This is another example of upcycling that does not involve the use of a sewing machine!


As you can see from the photos on the UpcycleThat website, the cat pictured looks very happy! This cat tent would also make a great Christmas present for your feline friend!

Toy Snake

You may have a few ties lurking in the cupboard that you no longer wear or were given as an unwanted gift. Instead of throwing them away why not make them into a toy snake for a child? Allie Belle Designs blog shows you how to make a snake tie in easy to follow steps.

Man trying on tie in a mirror

Have you tried upcycling? Are you a regular upcycler? If so please feel free to tell us more about some of the items you have created! If you try out any of the above upcycling projects let us know how you get on! I am going to try and make the cat tent for my mum’s cat Bubble’s Christmas later on in the year so will post a photo once I have finished my creation.

Happy Upcycling!


2 thoughts on “Love Clothes Part III: Upcycling

  1. Nice ideas! I love the one about the cat tent, my cats will go crazy about hiding in such thing. I have about 10 old tees I was planning to get rid of, but recycling them is better idea. Thank you for your post!

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