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Jeans with DIY patches added to the pockets

Master your DIY Clothes

What to do with old clothes that cannot be donated? Find out with these DIY clothing tips!

After a clear-out, we’re often left with the problem of what to do with old clothes that cannot be donated. Fortunately, there’s a solution that’s practical, money-saving and good for the environment: use some DIY clothing tips to turn those old clothes into new clothes.

Here’s how to make old clothes new again.

DIY old clothes ideas

Once you’ve got some experience in turning old clothes to new clothes, ideas will start coming faster. For now, here are some DIY clothes ideas to start you off. Before you do anything, start by washing them with Comfort – it’ll help your clothes smell and feel like new:

  • Has something gone wrong on one side of your outfit? Mess up the other side in the same way and it’ll look intentional. For example, if you’ve accidentally torn off half your left sleeve, your jacket might look silly. If you tear off half your 

    right sleeve as well, though, it’ll no longer look like an accident.

  • There are other ways you can fix a problem by making the problem bigger. If there’s a tiny rip in your black top, it just looks like you need new clothes. If you open it up to a gash, maybe add another cut or two, and then wear your modified top over a colour that looks good with it – like red – it’ll give you a unique, striking look.

  • Sometimes a DIY clothes transformation is just a matter of making some trims. Turn trousers into shorts; turn dresses into tops or skirts (you might need to add an elastic waistband for this); shorten those sleeves. When you cut, though, cut a little longer than your perfect length and use the excess to hem the end, or the cut edge is going to fray quickly.

  • Take tattered sleeves off a jacket or button-up shirt to neaten it into a waistcoat.

  • Grab some fabric pens or fabric paint and create a design that no one else has on their clothes. If your drawing skills start and end with stick figures, you might want to ask a more artistic friend for help, or you can take the guesswork out by using a stencil.

  • Not a fan of the shoulder straps on your tank top? Cut the straps where they meet the back of the top and tie them together, and suddenly you’ve got a top that loops around your neck instead.

  • If you’ve got two items of clothing with similar sizes and styles but different colours, you can cut them in half, switch the halves around and sew them together. Your white top and black top could become two half-white, half-black tops. It’s up to you where to make the cuts, whether they’re horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

  •  If the arm sizes match, you can cannibalise the sleeves from an old item of clothing and sew them onto a sleeveless top or dress. Before you break out the scissors, though, you should try wearing the sleeveless piece on top of the one you’re taking the sleeves from, so you can check that the sleeves will look good.

  • If you’re tired of a boring white garment, tie-dye it! The resulting pattern will be eye-catching and completely unique.

  • Some flowing skirts seem like they were made to be sundresses. Cut a neckline and holes for your arms (use one of your existing sleeveless tops or dresses as a guide for roughly where these should go), then sew the front to the back at the two uppermost points to create shoulder straps. If it still feels a little too skirt-shaped, try pulling it in with a sash.

  • If you want a little sparkle, adding some rhinestones or metal studs is a classic method for how to make an old outfit look new. You can even liven something up by sewing on interesting buttons in unexpected places.

  • Adding lace trimming or a strip of material in a different colour can do a lot to revive a plain piece of clothing.

  • Denim can be brought to life with patches or even home embroidery. Check out our upcycled denim ideas.

Those are a few DIY ideas for clothes, but there are countless other possibilities just waiting for you to come up with them. Once you’re thinking about how to use old clothes to make new outfits, you’ll start seeing projects everywhere. Have fun!