Thursday, February 8, 2018

Upcycling Clothing: Make Your Clothes Work For You & Links a la Mode, February 8th

Upcycling.  Repurposing.  Altering.

What is the difference?  The words are used interchangeably, admittedly by me, too. They are unique from each other, but at the core they get at the same thing.  Reducing textile waste.  Redress HK has done extensive work educating the public and driving change in the fashion industry globally. You can read more about their campaigns here.

For me, reducing textile waste and making second hand or vintage clothing choices comes in large part due that same hope of minimising my impact on the environment. I love thrift shopping because of the possibility of giving new life to a garment that has reached the end of its use by date for someone else, but still has loads of life left in it. (Read more about where this belief came from here). Sometimes breathing new life into a garment means having a vision for how to change it slightly and then seeing it through.

Back when I had a seamstress I trusted to help me carry these ideas through, I used to do this a lot and with a bit more of an adventurous spirit. She retired and closed her alterations shop and I haven't been able to find someone who can help me fix up my clothes since. I have a lead and I'm eager to test this new seamstress out, but so far I'm stuck with a growing fix/alter pile. The extent of my DIYs lately have literally been to cut off hems myself, but I'm getting bored with this. I did once try someone else, but I ended up with pant legs of different lengths (see those pants below). I fixed them myself by the way.

While I'm between seamstresses, I thought I could share some of my tips for how to make your clothes work for you. I'll list them at the end of this post, but the most important thing to consider is keeping your clothes in good condition. Sew up the little holes and be sure to launder things properly (I've made those mistakes).
Alterations and upcycling clothes doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it's just taking the sleeves off or bringing up the hem of a skirt. It can be simple like cutting the neck off or removing a collar. These kinds of alterations can be done even without sewing.

More complicated changes can be creating something entirely different (like one time when I made a skirt from pants or a dress out of a men's shirt). This is my definition of upcycling or repurposing or altering. It may not be what sustainable fashion suggests, but it is somewhere in the middle, I think. Making little tweaks to make an item of clothing can make it perfect for you so you'll want to keep it around longer.

I don't go thrift shopping with the mindset that I'm looking for something to change. In fact, I find that lately because I don't have a seamstress, I've become very strict about what I buy. If it's not going to work for me off the hanger, then these days I opt to leave it in the shop.  On the rare occassion, if there is something I really love about a garment (say the print or the fabric, for example) and my first thought is a simple fix, I may still see what I can do. 

There are other times, however, that I find something that I like as is and later on, even months or years later, I'll decide that I want to change it. It might be because I haven't worn the garment in such a long time; or it could be that after a few wears, I find some aspect of the garment that doesn't work for me anymore and can be fixed easily.

Because this is a part of how I wear clothes, I've discovered I end up wearing things longer. Vintage clothing or thrifted clothing is perfect for wearing in this way because it doesn't necessarily cost a lot and it is probably better made than any fast fashion items manufactured recently. If an alteration goes wrong, you're not out loads of cash. The flip side of that, however, is that vintage items really are one of a kind, and changing them can change the integrity of the whole piece. Ruining a vintage piece hurts more, trust me.

So, here are my tips for making your clothes work for you:

1. Buy proper fabric scissors and get comfortable using them to cut off jeans, pants, collars, etc.

2. If you can't sew yourself, find a good seamstress and start with safe alterations like a simple hemming before doing anything more complicated. I find hemming pants, etc, completely changes them enough that I'll keep them. Alternately, don't be afraid to make them shorts.

3. Don't forget that a good seamstress can also help your clothes fit better (I think this is different from changing the garment as suggested above). If your body changes shape and you still love a garment, have it altered so it can still work. 

4. Keep your clothes in good repair. A little hole is nothing to fret over. Just fix it or find someone who can. I feel like I'm constantly darning socks or stitching little holes in knees, for example. 

*Adapted and edited from an earlier post I wrote for Style by Asia.

Links à la Mode, February 8th, 2018
SPONSOR: Shopbop, Rachel Comey, Tibi Tops, Alexander Wang Bags, Flora Nikrooz, LGR, F.R.S For Restless Sleepers, Fanny Packs, Sequin Dresses, Mixed Metal Jewelry, Men's Salvatore Ferragamo

1 comment:

LOVE J said...

Aw, you look awesome! Love the green fur jacket on you. Would you like to follow each other on BLOGLOVIN? If you decided to follow me, please let me know so I can follow you back. xoxo

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