10 DIY Ideas To Revamp Old Clothes

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Stitch it, don't ditch it — one little missive with a significant impact. In the United States, textile waste is an issue that's getting more attention, especially with the rise in fast fashion. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that clothing that's simply thrown away hurts the environment. It seems likely that we've all done this from time to time when something has a small tear or is no longer on trend, but the cumulative impact of all this discarded fabric adds up. So much so that the Boston University School of Public Health calculates that over 34 billion pounds of textiles are tossed yearly, more than half of which is left to rot in landfills.

The good news, however, is that it's easy to reverse this trend with some easy DIY clothing upcycling hacks. Not only will you reduce your textile waste, but you'll also end up with a refreshed wardrobe that's all drip and low environmental impact, like this inspiration from @thrillenniumvintage. Grab your scissors and iron. It's time for some mindful mending.

Try this (literal) hoodie hack

This hoodie hack is an irresistible riff from UPCYCLEX on old meets new, and you don't need next-level sewing skills either. A project like this can be achieved with a needle and thread in less than an hour. The easiest way to start is by cutting away asymmetric sections of the hoodie. From there, turn the hoodie inside out and lay a vintage sweater (also inside out) underneath, making sure to line up the bottom seams. Use your needle and thread to sew the sweater into place, trim away the excess sweater material — and voilà!

Revamp your old sneakers with a pop of color

Honestly, we love this @lachaco DIY fashion hack for old or new sneakers. The secret here is embroidery thread, a chunkier thread that adds more texture. You'll thread your needle with about 24 inches of thread and sew in repetitive loops. Starting on the inside, pull the needle and thread all the way through to the outside. Next, you'll bring the needle back to the inside of the shoe and repeat — as close to the first as possible. Continue until you achieve the look, and experiment with different color threads.

Give your leather shorts a glow-up

It looks impossibly good, right? Although these shorts were hand-stitched by Sam Bacchi, there's an easy way to get this cute leather look. Experienced embroiderers can usually create a design using only their imagination and a steady hand. The rest of us can rely on easy iron-on embroidery patterns to follow (thank goodness). Just be sure to select a simple design and test it on an inexpensive old t-shirt first. This practice round will help ensure you're ready for the leather project.

Use this mending technique to save damaged sweaters

A distressed sweater is a good look, but the downside is that it could continue to unravel. So, this sweater-mending technique from @spiderweavestudio ends up being one of the smartest hacks to repurpose your old clothes. Obviously, it's a great fix for a cuff, hem, or other area where the knitting is starting to come undone. That aside, you can definitely use this for other DIY sweater projects. For example, cut off a chunk of sweater, preserve the edges with this method, and add it as an accent to other clothing.

Give your worn socks a second life

Socks get a lot of wear and tear. When that happens, expert mender Erin Eggenburg adds these adorable patches. Sure, she's a pro, but you can dabble in sock mending too. If you're not ready to create patches, you can still tackle the project with a few tips. Look for small bits of fabric that are sturdy, soft, and similar in thickness to your sock fabric. Turn your socks inside out, add the patching material, and sew them in place. Be sure to avoid thick or stiff fabrics, which would be uncomfortable.

Remove unsightly sweater pills

She's a bit of a mess, this sweater, all covered with bumpy sweater pills. Well, sustainability expert and TED talker Ali Clifford has a hack for that. Here, she's highlighting an old-school fabric shaver designed to remove the lumpy bumps of fabric balls that form over time on some soft fabrics and knits. We can one-up this fabulous hack by suggesting something you might already have in your makeup bag. You can easily remove pilling from materials with an inexpensive dermaplaning razor. Use it to gently de-fuzz fabrics — it works like a charm.

Create these cat-tastic upcycled jeans

The iron patches method is one of the oldest and easiest ways to refresh older wardrobe pieces. Here, the fabulous @burntorangepeel offers vintage kitty inspiration on a pair of wide-leg jeans. They incorporated hand-sewn red thread accents in between some cute AF kitten patches. Luckily, you can recreate this look on the cheap. With a bit of research, you can even score some with kittens napping in a milk bowl or cats wearing sunnies. As for the method, it's easy. The patches have a heat-activated material. Just use a warm iron to adhere them in place.

This no-sew technique makes you look like a pro

Skip the needle and thread methods altogether and turn to a seamstress's little helper — fabric fusing tape. Sometimes referred to as hem tape, it's an almost sheer ribbon-like material that will bond fabric. For example, if you want to recreate this colorful jeans hack from @reusedtoreduce, it's a cinch. First, find some bright or textured fabric, like lace or velvet. Turn the jeans inside out and place the fabric-fusing tape close to the hole you're covering. Then, use a warm iron to bond the two together.

Use indigo dye to transform an old scarf

A whole world of tie-dye awaits. One method, Shibori, is a Japanese technique that's easy to play with, especially if you have a Shibori kit. It relies on powdered dyes, usually made from plant ingredients, giving fabrics a vibrant-yet-chill vibe. If you've been swooning over all the DIY silk scarf hacks taking over TikTok, you can try your hand at this creative way to revamp old clothes. Here, @hu.natural.art employs the method to transform a scarf, but we're also thinking of testing it out on a pair of billowy linen pants.

Sorry grandma, we need those doilies

Anyone with an eye for detail can appreciate the intricate patterns of Grandma's (many) doilies. So, we were excited to find this gorgeous piece posted by the vintage clothing shop @selcouthwares. If you don't have any doilies on hand, you can usually find them by the box-full at yard sales, consignment shops, or vintage stores. We love the bright threads used here for the stitching, but you could incorporate some low-fuss methods as an alternative. For example, fabric fusing tape would work for doilies with a thick border to hide the seam.