• josefinwanner

3 Ways To Upcycle A Top Without A Sewing Machine

“Extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints”  -Wrap.org.uk

Did you know that the most sustainable items are the ones we already own?

Slowing our consumption, refusing to treat our clothes as disposable items, and wearing them longer are all things we can do to improve the fashion industry’s harmful impact on the environment.

So if you have some old tops that are ready for a new life, try one of these fun upcycle projects! I promise… no special skills or equipment are required! 

Update The Straps/Sleeves

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. One basic tank top

  2. Scissors

  3. Needle and thread

  4. A scarf

Take a plain ol’ tank top and turn into a statement piece in just a few simple steps...

  1. Cut one of the straps off of the tank top

  2. Use a needle and matching thread to backstitch both the edges (front and back) down, creating a loop

  3.  This is the fun part! You can use a scarf, ribbon, or chain to replace the strap. You can change the strap out to get different looks whenever you want. I used a scarf, pulled it through the loop and tied it off

And ta-da! You have a chique new look. 

Crop The Top

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. One basic top

  2. Scissors

  3. Needle and thread

  4. Elastic

  5. Safety pins

The fastest way to crop a top is to simply cut off the bottom… but that’s not the cutest way. With just a few extra steps, your top will look store-bought.

  1. Cut the shirt about 4-5 centimeters longer than your desired length

  2. Fold the bottom of the shirt inward and iron down the edge

  3. Using a needle and matching thread, backstitch the two layers together all the way around the shirt creating a loop

I’ll admit, this was my very first time backstitching by hand. It took me a little over an hour (while watching Netlfix 😉) and wasn’t difficult at all, so don’t hesitate to try this out even if you're a beginner with a needle and thread.

  1. Stop your backstitch a few centimeters away from where you began the stitch

  2. Measure an elastic band around your waist where you want the shirt to sit and cut it

  3. Use the safety pin and pin one end of the elastic to the shirt to anchor it in place

  4. Pin the other safety pin to the remaining end of the elastic. This will help you thread it through the loop

  5. Once the elastic strip is through the loop, sew the two ends together

  6. Tuck in the elastic band and finish backstitching the edges

And there you have it -a brand new top!

Now that you know this technique, you’ll be using it to crop all your tops! I especially love this trick for button-up shirts. 

But you can apply these steps to scrunch up over-sized sleeves or on the top and bottom of one tee to make a cute strapless top. 

This technique can be applied in so many different ways, so feel free to get creative!

Use Fabric Paints

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. One basic top

  2. Paper and pencil

  3. Sharpie color that will show on the top

  4. Fabric Paint

This last idea is the one with the most creative freedom...

  1. Choose an image from online or freehand one of your own

  2. Cut out the image into a stencil

  3. Place the stencil onto your clothing where you want to paint it on

  4. Use the stencil to place dots onto the clothing item in the shape of your image

  5. Using the fabric paint simply connect the dots

Make sure to follow the instructions specific to the fabric paint you purchase (for drying time, ironing with a baking sheet over, temperature to wash your item in the washing machine, etc…)

I’m no artist, so I decided that using line art would be the hardest to mess up. If you’re not confident in your painting skills, try an image made from just one line. I’m happy with how mine turned out… it’s a bit picasso-esque! I even went back in and filled in some spaces with yellow for added pop! I also found that going over all of my lines twice made the paint stand out more.

Whichever one of the upcycle projects you try, I’d love to see how it turns out! Tag or send me a picture @ms.melior on Instagram.

Have some fun and remember that by upcycling, you’re doing your part to better the planet.


Ms. Melior

P.S. If you want another fun DIY try tie-dying with avocado pits! I show you how in this video here.