Upcycling is the New Black

Upcycling is suddenly very trendy, but the only thing new about the practice is the term. It’s been around as long as there have been resourceful men and women trying to stretch the budget. All it is, really, is using materials scavenged from old or worn-out items and turning them into something new, wonderful and, above all, useful.

A few examples include memory quilts constructed from worn-out clothing, rugs crocheted using plastic bags or old bedding, or a new sweater made from the yarn of an old sweater. It’s cost-effective, good for the planet and very satisfying. And a patched pair of pants doesn’t have to scream “hobo”.

All it really takes are a few basic skills and the ability to see the worth in what we normally consider refuse. Our grandmothers had this ability, but we’re losing sight of it in a world of dirt-cheap off-the-rack clothing that only lasts a season before falling apart. Upcycling provides an opportunity to be stylish without being wasteful.

Image source: http://www1.bloomingdales.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=527250

This pencil skirt has the subtle but very stylish detail of small ruffle at the hem, which is surprisingly simple to add to a ready-made skirt. The ruffle can be pleated or gathered and made from any type of fabric, ribbon or lace that strikes your fancy. This look is achieved with doubled-over satin or wide gross-grain ribbon and would also look great in a contrasting colour.


Image source: http://0.tqn.com/d/fashion/1/7/y/H/3/84784204_10.jpg

Maybe you don’t need a chartreuse cocktail dress, but this appliqued lace technique would look equally stunning on pants, a summer skirt, or even a T-shirt.


Image source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_SL_0nRXESpk/TS41qBfqh2I/AAAAAAAAAZo/7hTLRXRNIjU/s1600/tria+ruffle+hem+closeup.jpg

This double ruffle in contrasting colours is visually stunning and can add a feminine detail to a tailored skirt.


Image source: http://ancien-nouveau.blogspot.com/2010/07/pleatsmock-detail.html

This tuck pleating swatch is such a perfect example of a designer detail, I had to include it. How pretty this would look at the hemline of a skirt or as vertical inserts on a shirt, or anywhere else your imagination takes you.


During my internet search for inspiration, I’ve also discovered the unexpected benefit of finding some great blogs that are creative, informative and entertaining. The above image was taken from Ancien-Nouveau, a blog about sewing and vintage patterns – right up my alley!

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