Creating your own custom wardrobe is easier than ever with the help of upcycling fashion. Not only is crafting your own sustainable clothing from scratch helping save the planet, but it’s also a fun way to repurpose some of the items you’ve been neglecting.

Unleash your creativity by gathering a couple of old or unused t-shirts, sweaters, jeans and anything else you might have laying around. Give your wardrobe new life by following some of these awesome DIY designs.  

A Workout Tank

The beauty of this super simple project? It takes less than an hour to complete! With just a few old items you can completely transform your workout collection. This relaxed top goes perfectly with a pair of DIY joggers (instructions for these are below). You can get an entire workout outfit for less than $5. This look is also a great dupe for Lululemon’s City Soul tank.

upcycled workout tank

How to get the look:

For this look, all you’ll need is an old sports bra and t-shirt. Start out by folding the t-shirt fabric in half. Then, cut off the top portion so you are left with a square. It’s ideal that it measures 24” wide and 21” long and should open up to 48” wide. Sew along one of the 21” sides to create a wide tube. Next, use the seam you just made to mark the center back of the shirt. Then, pin the seam to the back of the sports bra. Stretch the rectangular piece of fabric to the opposite end and attach to the center front of the sports bra. Pin on either side of your center front and center back pins and let the excess fabric fall to create a draped look. Sew into place where you have pinned the shirt. 

Now you have your very own workout top without having to spend any extra money!

Ruffled, Off-the-Shoulder Mini Dress

This sweet and simple dress is easily made using a recycled men’s button-down shirt. The process of making this fabulous is easy and doesn’t require a lot of additional materials—making it perfect for your first upcycling project.

upcycled off-the-shoulder mini dress

How to get the look:

The first step to starting this project is to pin the last four inches or so of remaining fabric to make sure it is closed properly. Using your sewing machine, sew the entire length of the dress shut along the trail of button. Next, place a ruler along the top of shirt and evenly cut off the entire collar and shoulders. You should use a seam gauge to measure 1 ½ inches down from the new neckline. Pin and fold a new seam to hold in the piece of elastic before sewing it into place. Take the band of elastic and place it all the way around your shoulders. Hold it tight enough so it’s snug but stretches just slightly to make sure the fit is comfortable for you. Safety pin on one end of the elastic to hold the measurement in place. Feed the closed safety pin through the seam while holding onto the other side of the elastic and sew it together. Cut the sleeves from the shirt (avoid cutting the elastic you just added). Open the sleeves up to create a longer piece of fabric. Cutting both sleeves into a number of rectangles, sew them together in a circle to fit the new neckline of the dress. Hem one side of the ruffled circle and pin the other to the top of your dress and sew it into place. 

Enjoy this gorgeous dress on warm summer nights or while your on vacation.

Collarless Sweatshirt

No sewing machine or thread required for this awesome recycled piece! This no-sew sweater design is quick and easy and almost impossible to mess up. All you need is a pair of scissors.

upcycled collarless sweatshirt

How to get the look:

These might be the most simple instructions we’ve given yet. Using your upcycled crewneck or v-neck sweatshirt or sweater, make a 1-inch mark from the collar on each shoulder and 1 inch down the front side. Take a pair of scissors to cut the first mark made in the shoulder area and trail downward across the mark made on the front and up to the other side of the collar. Making a half-circle shape, cut both sides of the top together to ensure they are even. Remove the cuffs from the sleeves just past the seams. Try on your new top and decide which shoulder you’d like to show off. Pull that side down and allow the top to drape over your other shoulder. Finally, roll up the sleeves to finish the look. This provides a care-free, off-the-shoulder look. It’s also easy and super comfy!

Pearl Embellished Jeans

Jeans with pearl accents are a hot trend that is sweeping the fashion world by storm. It’s a great update to basic denim, but some of these items can be rather pricey. Well, now you can make your own at home for next to nothing in less than 20 minutes.

upcycled pearl embellished jeans

How to get the look:

The first thing to do is to determine the look you’re going for. Do you want pearls spread across both legs or a collection around the pocket and upper thigh? Whatever design you're going for, the technique is pretty similar. 

Start out by laying the denim on an even, flat surface (preferably a table). Next, thread a sewing needle and secure the end of the thread with a knot. Place your hand on the inside of the jeans and press the needle through the front before sliding the first pearl bead onto the thread. This will hide the beginning knot when your wearing this pair of jeans and gives a more polished look. Once one bead is on your thread, sew your needle back through the top of your denim and out again about an inch or 2 apart. Work your way down the pair of jeans until you’ve achieved the look you want!

Jogger Sweatpants 

We all have a pair of yoga pants that have shrunk and are too short or a pair of super comfy sweatpants that aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing crammed somewhere in our drawers. Instead of throwing them away, turn them into a pair of cute, versatile joggers. This tutorial is super easy and takes almost no time.

upcycled jogger sweatpants

How to get the look:

First, lay the yoga or sweatpants flat and measure 6 inches from the bottom hem of each leg before cutting it off. Take the material that was just removed (it’s going to be used as the cuff for the new leg) and cut off another 2 or 3 inches in width. Unfold the fabric and pin the shorter edges together and fold it again. Sew the short edge of the fabric together. Using a sewing machine, create a zigzag stitch (don’t use a standard stitching pattern because it won’t allow the fabric to stretch). Place four pins in equal parts around the entire pant leg. Turn the pants inside out so the new seam is on the right side. Run your fabric through the sewing machine one last time for each leg. 

It’s that simple! Now you can wear a trendy, comfortable pair of jogger for practically nothing.

Recycling old pieces into new, stylish looks not only keeps money in your wallet, but it also helps maintain a clean environment. At Dona Bela Shreds, we believe sustainable fashion is one of the most important movements made by the fashion industry. All of our pieces are handmade from recycled textiles. Pair any of our designs with your newly redesigned DIY wardrobe.   

December 02, 2019 — Allison Motoyama