Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Recycled Fashions: A Force To Be Reckoned With

A sewing and fashion trend that's hot these days is the recycling (upcycling?) of old clothing into new garments by altering, cutting, splitting, embellishing, and repurposing. It makes perfect sense. Quality fashion fabric is hard for us home sewers to find. Why not scavenge it from discarded clothes? It also fits into our enhanced sensibility about conservation and ecology. I went to a science museum in Toronto a couple years ago and saw an exhibit that debunked the old "it all rots in the landfill" wisdom. Among the still-perfectly-good items that had been excavated and put on display was a pair of Wrangler jeans. They had been underground for 35 years!

Still, I'm having some trouble looking at this trend as an avenue for my own creativity. Here's an old calico "housedress" that's been in my closet for about 20 years. I bought it at a garage sale. It's easy to tell someone sewed it at home about 50+ years ago. I've worn it, and worn it, and even had compliments on it. But I've always felt it needed help, somehow. But what to do? And is it really worth it? As a home sewer who works with patterns published for the home sewing market, this recycling project has me stumped.


  1. Don't know how easy this is or exactly how it would look, but what about halving the dress and attaching the top (or the bottom) to a different contrasting color fabric?

  2. Lena,

    That's the idea, right? But it's trickier than it seems at first. What color? What shape? and so on. Once you start getting into this, you find it bears quite a bit of consideration!


  3. If it's the style and fit you love, I'd copy it and make a new one. Using a well loved item for a pattern falls into the "re-use" category, I think.

  4. Yeah, but do I love the style and fit??

    Actually, I don't! Probably I should not waste any time on it at all!