I love going to the thrift store. Some of my favorite clothes are from that place, and you know you’re going to get something unique. The fact that you can buy a whole outfit for less than $10 is almost a bonus. But if you’ve ever been thrifting, then you know that sometimes there’s not anything that’s reasonably or even moderately cute. That’s where refashioning comes in…looking past the 90s or size XXL and seeing how you can salvage something and make it work! Here are three strategies for imagining ways to refashion tired pieces of clothing:
1. Paint on it!
I turned regular jean shorts that weren’t the most fashionable (instead of back pockets they have these weird side cargo type pockets) into really fun patriotic high-waisted shorts. I painted them using regular acrylic paint mixed with a fabric paint medium (similar here) and a foam paintbrush. The stripes were blocked off using masking tape. I made a stencil out of freezer paper for the star side, and brushed on top it two or three times, letting it dry between layers. Then once it’s dry, you iron the paint to set it. If you want more details on making a stencil, this tutorial on Made is gold. The paint is really sturdy and has lasted through three Fourth of July’s so far! (and lot’s of wear in between). The stencil/acrylic paint technique on t shirts works too.
2. Re-imagine it into a different piece of clothing
As you can probably tell, this dress was made from a thrifted men’s button-down shirt. Very few guys in this world could have pulled off a pink stripey shirt, but be on the lookout for odd pieces like that. The buttons made it a very cute sundress for my little sister! I cut off the sleeves and used the fabric to make a ruffle, and then chopped off the top and re-cut it to sew it way smaller. Then I gathered the bottom half back to the top to make a skirt, and added some teal ribbon for fun. It took some creativity to make it work, but ultimately I’ve found that pretty close is good enough. You can just wing it and make adjustments as you go…don’t stress about cutting it perfectly. All people are going to comment on is “what a brilliant idea it was to make a dress out of shirt”, not “oh look at that weird gather on the side there”. (:
You can use any nice patterned piece of clothing for fabric if you know how to sew, which opens up so many options at the store. There are so many tutorials that you could find through a pinterest search that can help give you ideas of where to start.
3. Recycle it into a non-clothing item
Last fall I started getting into sewing purses. Belts made great straps! They were ready made with buckles to adjust the length, and only cost $1-$2. Try thinking of more than just clothing items that you could use your thrift store or hand-me-downs for. Denim from an old pair of jeans makes sturdy change purses. Knit t shirts can be cut up into strips and made into t shirt yarn. You have many options, even if you can’t figure out how to wear it!
Hopefully those three tips will help you think outside the box in how to use thrifted pieces that aren’t working that well in their present state. It’s really fun, so I hope you try it. And the beauty of refashioning is, if a project doesn’t end up working out, it still only costed you a few dollars. Win-win! (: