Monday, 12 March 2012

Refashioning, Upcycling, Repurposing...

What's in a name... upcycling, recycling, reusing, repurposing, refashioning? Some of the terms may be relatively new, but the concept is not.

Back in the 60s, it was called being thrifty. I can remember going for my Thrift Badge at Girl Guides. It was no big deal, as you tended to do most of the things anyway.

Back in the 30s and 40s (I wasn't around then), I think it was called being frugal. My mother said they used to make clothes from what ever they had. Here's a photo of my Mum in a skirt she made from a tablecloth in about 1945. Oh, I wish the photos were in colour.




I don't know that any of my clothes were made from pre loved items, (Tell me if they were, Mum)  but they were home made. As you've read in a previous post, all I wanted was store bought clothes.

During the 19th Century, being frugal was a way of life. You were either frugal or wasteful.

More money during the 60s and 70s led to the availability of more commodities and no need for a simple, thrifty or frugal lifestyle. That trend has increased to this day. We truly are a throw away society.

Even though recycling began to take place in the 70s and 80s, it didn't, in the main, involve clothes. It is only in fairly recent years that reusing clothes has become trendy. Refashioning, repurposing, upcycling, transforming, what ever you care to call it, using pre-loved clothes has become fashionable.

Last year was the first time in my life that I had ever sewed an article using a pre-loved piece of clothing. My daughter asked if I would turn a favourite baby doll t-shirt dress into a bag. My daughter didn't get quite the reaction she had hoped for. I think I was rather negative. But if I make a mistake, there's no going back. I don't have a pattern. And my non-sewing (at that time) daughter, You can do it, Mum. If you can make.... this will be easy. You just have to... And so my first upcycled project was a bag.


You might ask why I was negative about upcycling the dress into a bag. I was taught to sew with rules. There was only ever one way to sew something: the right way. The rules of sewing were ingrained. Refashioning meant breaking some of those rules and making something in an unorthodox way I was certainly not used to. However, I was chuffed at how the bag had turned out.

My next venture into upcycling, again came at my daughter's request; turning one of her an old aerobics costumes, into some swimming costumes for Barbie and Ken. Again, I don't think I was overly positive when I was asked. After trying to adhere to the old rules, I ended up just hacking into the costume, pulling pieces around the dolls and hand sewing. Here are the results and again I was pleased with how they turned out. The owners of the dolls' clothes haven't complained about how they are sewn.



My daughter was on a roll and asked me to transform her wedding dress into a smart day dress for her to wear to the wedding of good friends. Eeekkk...that meant cutting into her wedding dress. Again, I was not overly positive to begin with, but we were both thrilled with the result. Head on over to Tash's blog, Little Ladybird, to hear her thoughts on our wedding dress transformation.


Funnily enough, I didn't find any of these projects stressful. I may have been negative and argued that it couldn't be done, but once I made the first cut in the fabric, I found that I quite enjoyed the process. My daughter was teaching me to think outside the square, to be more adventurous and that it's OK to bend the rules.

I'm now finding that I'm loving refashioning clothes!!! Thanks to my daughter's encouragement, I now feel quite confident about taking pre-loved garments and turning them into something different. When I begin a refashion now, I don't always know what the end result will be and I'm now OK with that. With each refashion, I am finding it easier to think of new ideas. The more refashioning I do, the more ideas I have for the next refashion. You can see more of my refashioning projects here. Here's a couple of recent ones.



I'm having so much fun refashioning, I might never sew from new fabrics again. Hmmmm... I take that back. I have a HUGE stash of new fabric. Besides, I've just won a $30 voucher to Whimsy Couture, a site with lots of PDF sewing patterns. I'm going to have fun spending my voucher. Thanks Whimsy Couture and thanks Jill, from Creating My Way to Success for hosting the giveaway.

Jill has a fabulous ongoing themed link party just for Clothes Upcycling Projects. If you refashion clothes, link them up. I get a steady flow of traffic from Jill's Upcycling Link Party. As of today, there are 259 projects linked up. It's well worth a look!!!

Another good upcycling site, is the Refashion Co-op. You can become a contributor to this blog just by signing up and agreeing to post at least once a month. After posting to the Refashion Co-op, I get a lot of traffic to my blog.

Do you know of any refashioning sites? I'd love to hear...

... Pam

40 comments:

  1. What a lovely and very interesting post. I can remember my childeren saying that all they wished was strore bought clothes! Memories...... I shall certainly be looking into thes other blogs you have written about.

    Thank you for sharing and have a good recycle week.

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  2. So interesting to read your thoughts on refashioning and how the world has changed in their opinion towards this trend.
    Congrats on your great win! Have fun choosing your patterns :)

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  3. I've never really thought of this whole refashioning business until I started reading your recent posts about it.. I've got a whole wardrobe full of 'fat' clothes that I'll never wear again and now it seems like such a waste of fabric.. I' ll have to come up with a new purpose for them.. I'm seeing lots of tops made from old dresses!

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    1. Once you start refashioning you'll be hooked!!!

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  4. I love this post..it totally captivated me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the trends of the time etc. Really enjoyed it.

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  5. Love your projects. As you know, recycling clothes is rather a pet project of mine - though I am not as ambitious or skilled as you are!

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  6. Great post. I adore the dress that you made from your daughter's wedding dress. That is the most gorgeous piece. I have a real thrifty side and you've got me all interested in refashioning or upcycling or whatever, lol.

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  7. Wow, what a fascinating post!!! I loved reading the first part about the history of thrifting and such. I am still scared of refashioning. I know it's not logical to be afraid! But like you said, we were taught "how to sew" and it's really hard to break out of the box. One day I'll get there too :-) Great work!

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  8. I'm glad your daughter pushed you into repurposing clothing. You have made some amazing things, Pam. Keep it up!

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  9. I have had fun as well, plus my daughter gets to keep most of the clothes that are made by you, lol!! Our favourites are the 'purple shirt to dress' and the 'peach dress refashioned'. They both look amazing!! Tash

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  10. Isn't it interesting how things come around! I love the refashions you have been posting about recently, they have certainly made me look more closely at the fabrics around me. My husband is very jealously guarding his shirts as I keep murmuring behind his back, that would make a great ,,,,,!

    Love the swimming costumes for Barbie and Ken :)

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  11. Wow Pam! You are truly a gifted seamstress! These are all great! I LOVE especially the redo of the wedding dress - so cute!

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  12. I love your refashions Pam! You've got some gorgeous projects there :)

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  13. Great post Pam! You've certainly caught the refashioning bug!! It is rather addictive I know!!


    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

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  14. You have made some wonderful things. The dress for your daughter is gorgeous and so nice to be able to reuse such a beautiful dress rather than it just sitting in a cleaning bag!

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  15. This is a such a great post. My mom made some of my clothes growing up, but I'm sad to say that I've made as many as I'd like for my own daughter yet. I need to take the plunge with knits so I can start refashioned thrifted t-shirts into t-shirts for my son and dresses for my daughter.

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  16. I love this! I've definitely had success and failure at recycling clothes. My mom definitely falls in the "rules" of sewing class, and I have to say, I have never completely followed all of them. I think though, that it definitely helps you make stuff if you know the rules, because they help you understand.:)

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  17. The wedding dress transformation turned out great! I love upcycling/refashioning clothes. It was a great "low risk" project when I was learning to sew. When I find t-shirts that we no longer wear and can practice sewing a cute skirt for my daughter it's a win-win situation. Now that I am comfortable at the sewing machine I still refashion, but it's not so frightening to cut into fabric that I actually shopped for. I'd love to find something to upcycle into a flower girl dress my daughter will wear at a wedding soon, though!

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  18. What a great post! I love refashioning. All your projects look amazing! Thanks for linking up at The Little Giggler!!

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  19. Great post! Refashioning is so fun! Yours all look terrific!

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  20. You are very creative! And you're very brave cutting into your daughter's wedding dress! But most wedding dresses never get out of a plastic bag after the big day, so why not! Thanks for sharing these ideas.

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  21. I love the photos of your mother. She is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks! She'll be pleased to read your comment.

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  22. This post reminds me of how proud I am of myself when I can pull off a refashion. I think by reading so many sewing blogs, it's caused me to feel intimidated. Being intimadated by all the "rules" and all the "perfection" is holding me back! So thanks!

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  23. i found you via 5day5ways, and am so glad i did! just last night i was going thru some stuff that i got from my beloved Papa, June 3rd he will have been gone 7 yrs. my lil buckeroo reminds me so much of him, i was 6 months pregnant with him when papa passed. but i received some coveralls of papa's that i'm going to alter to fit buckeroo. this gave me the boost to know that i can do it! thanks!
    michelle
    ps. i'm your newest follower
    http://allthatglitter-mwimp.blogspot.com/
    stop by and check me out!

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  24. Thanks for sharing at Things I've Done Thursday!

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  25. You are absolutely amazing! Everything you did is just beautiful!!

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  26. You're good! That wedding dress made into the other dress... WOW! I'm enjoying refashioning clothing myself. I had fun making a child-size pair of leggings out of the sleeves of a shirt, and a smaller pair of pj bottoms out of an adult sized one... Things like that I can handle. I think your skill level WAY surpasses mine! ;)
    Found you on the Tatertots and Jello link-up. :)

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  27. I agree... we need to repurpose more! You are so clever! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!

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  28. I think it's so fun to make something new out of something old:)

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  29. I absolutely love the creations you've made shown above. I tried this idea once, after reading a blog about creating one outfit each day for 365 days under $1 for each outfit. My recreation turned out well, but being a busy nursing student I didn't have the proper time to dedicate to the process. Thanks for sharing.

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  30. This is a great post- I hadn't really thought about it that "upcycling" is a very old practice! I saw you in Project Recycled and I loved all your work there.
    I would love if you would share this at Scout's Sweet Sunday! http://xstitchandcrafts.blogspot.com/2012/03/scouts-sweet-features-and-sunday-linky.html

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    1. when i was small, we had barely anything, but good hands, when i outgrew my clothes my my mother knitted edges, which elongated the clothes for another year.
      When i was a young mum, i received 2 children`s sized `Scottish skirts`, which i turned into pants +poncho, and i crocheted around the tiny leftovers and made them into a hat... wore it until i got tired of it, and gave it as is to a friend who wanted it from day one.
      mirjam

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  31. Getting into the recycling of fabric...found some great sheets at a thrift store that will make some great skirts! Your up-cycling is great...especially like the clutch you made from the extra material from the dress.

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  32. Thank you for writing this as clearly as you did.
    I too wonder about all those words that really say that we are using our sources, and not waste them. It includes the joy of being able to care for ourselves, for appreciating ourselves and our sources, and last not least being creative, using our abilities.
    I am writing a HEBREW blog www.differentart.org in which i also talk about re-using cloth,amongst other subjects thus i am not sure many of you will be able to read it.
    Over the years i made skirts from Curtains,[old ones as well as new curtain material]. I wear cotton skirts which i turn after many years into cushion covers. old sweaters become vests blankets.
    52 years ago i received a [bought] 7/8 winter coat, wore it for years, than my daughter wore it , that it became a bit iffy, cut off iffy parts it became a vest, which my daughter wore for years, and later gave back to me...i wore it more,,, but lately i feel it has done it`s time,,,, i have to think what to do with leftovers,?
    all the best mirjam

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    1. Perhaps a small bag? 52 years is pretty good going!!!

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    2. Thank you Pam, a woolen bag? might be but not so comfortable in our summers... i noted it on my list
      mirjam

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  33. This post was so interesting to read! I love how you shared the history of "repurposing." It is amazing how much can change in a relatively short amount of time. I love refashioning things also. It is such a fun creative outlet. I enjoy seeing your refashions! Thanks for linking up to the Stache Party!

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  34. so wonderful to see that you are truly carrying on the family tradition and that your daughter is game as well! thanks for sharing on Craft schooling Sunday!

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  35. What a great post! You did an amazing job; I saw your work on your daughter's blog, and it's just fantastic. Thanks so much for linking up to Shine on Fridays!

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