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There is a lot of talk at the moment of ‘Fast Fashion’. And how damaging our constant demand for new clothes is on the environment. I personally don’t buy a lot of new clothes for myself these days. But maybe it is time to look to new ways of up-cycling your existing wardrobe into new pieces. To make new clothes from old.
New Clothes From Old
In the USA alone, 13 million tonnes of clothing and textile waste go into landfill each year. Yes, people give some of their old clothes to charity shops and thrift stores. But a lot more goes into the bin.
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of all the industries. Second only to the oil and energy industries themselves.
A thousand bathtubs of water per household are used to make the clothes that we wear. The industry uses 70 million barrels of oil each year to make polyester fibres. Polyester can take over 200 years to decompose in landfill. At the same time, microfibres from synthetic materials are part of the plastic that is entering our oceans and washing up on our shores.
Buying less clothes is definitely part of the answer. Or buying classic clothes that do not date. Staying ‘fashionable’ when the shops change their collections every season is definitely a problem.
How much better would it be to upcycle your garments into new garments that are truly your style and unique? No one else would have the pieces that you have created. I decided to try and do just that.
Denim Leggings Into A New Skirt
In my house, the only real items I do need to replace on a regular basis are my jeans. Or jeggings to be more precise. My everyday staple wear, I probably go through about 3-4 pairs a year. They wear on the knees and in-between the legs.
But last year I decided that I didn’t want to keep throwing the old pairs away. So in the spirit of new clothes from old I decided to make my jeggings into a new skirt.
I took my old worn out jeans.
Which were definitely in need of some up-cycling love.
I cut the legs off at knee level, and put the lower part of the legs to one side.
On the main part of the skirt, I trimmed the inside leg seam and worn section away.
I then opened out the lower leg portions that I had cut away earlier. You can either cut off the hem and cut the non topstitched seam, or use a seam ripper to unpick carefully.
I took one of the panels created from opening out the lower legs, and placed it in the V-shaped hole created when cutting the inner leg seams away. Pinning this into place, I then topstitched this into place with 2 lines of topstitch thread matched to the other topstitching on the denim.
I then repeated this with the back panel. On the inside I cut away the excess material with pinking shears to prevent fraying.
And lastly I hemmed the whole skirt. Very little of the original jeans material wasted, and a new item for the wardrobe. Saves me buying a new skirt!
Child Leggings from An Old T-shirt
Another great idea is if you have an old t-shirt that you are thinking of throwing away, why not make some new child leggings? My post on How to Make Childrens’ Leggings Without Needing A Pattern will help you. And for children up to about 3 years of age, you can get a pretty decent set of play leggings out of an old t-shirt.
In May last year, E’s nursery announced that they were having a “Star Wars” Day on May the 4th. My gorgeous OH had been given a star wars pair of pyjamas, and had practically worn them out, but they were still good enough for me to use for a new pair of leggings for E. She got some nursery wear out of these before she grew out of them. And of course it meant that the life of the pyjamas was extended by a good 6 months.
And if we can’t make new clothes from old ones? Well, maybe we need to start designing clothes that are easier to recycle. Buying clothes that can be composted at the end of it’s life. Or that can be crafted into other things such as rag rugs.
In Finland, they have even developed a material made from the native birch trees! It is not just the spirit of Lagom, but it really will save the environment.
What do you think of making new clothes from old? Do you think that it is a concept that you could implement in your life? I would love to hear your thoughts. Do share what you think below, or find me on social media.
Enjoyed this? Why not read Lagom Your Life. Part 1 ; The Kitchen
And make this year A Year To Clear!