Altering Old Clothing Into New Outfits

I confess, I love clothes! I love shoes and handbags, costume jewelry, and art. As a creative individual with limited funds, I have scoured thrift shops for years on the hunt for bargains. When my sons were young I clothed them in second hand, like-new clothes that saved us so much money and they looked great! I would look for interesting things, like t-shirts with cool graphics that could be cut and appliqued onto jeans, etc. to create entirely new and original looks.


As the oldest of six children, times were tight when I was a child. We often received boxes of hand-me-downs from others and were happy to get them. My grandmothers sewed clothing as well. It is no wonder that I learned to be frugal and yet use my own creativity to imbue freshness into older, no longer fashionable articles of clothing.

Today, as an empty nester, in addition to many other creative outlets, I continue to re-purpose outdated clothing. This also helps saves hundreds of pounds of fabric from ending up in waste sites. It is sometimes a slow process to find things that will work in a refashion project, but the results are worth it! I often find great items for as little $.50 that others overlook.

I encourage anyone who might never have considered it to give it a try! Get those creative juices flowing and strut your shine!

Source: ReFashionista

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I've just changed the buttons on an old coat and it looks just like a new one. I buy buttons in thrift stores (where you can find horn, mother-of-pearl, or brass ones) or take them off other pieces of clothing. I also often dye clothes, particularly woolens, to revitalize them.

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June 5, 2009

When my daughter was in grade school, I couldn't afford new school clothes every year, so I purchased an A-line (no waistline) dress pattern with the option of cap or long sleeves and three neckline options.

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October 20, 2011

Each time I donate bags of clothes to Good Will, there is a lingering pile of items that didn't make the cut. It consists of frayed jeans and torn t-shirts that can't be donated and are destined for the trash can. After talking with someone about her scrap crafts,

A letter L made out of a denim scrap.

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I have made shorts and blouses from a large bed sheet, also curtains, pillow cases, etc. It's often cheaper than fabric from fabric store.

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Look what mamma made! I made these outfits for my two daughters. The older one is from my dad's old shirt with some denim curtains that were given to me, then I appliquéd a heart on an old t shirt.

Girls Wearing Recycled "New" Outfits

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June 16, 2014

I've been looking for tops for my white skirt and ivory skirt and looking for print skirts. One day, I found a dress with a print I liked and thought, "I wish this were a skirt." That's when I realized I could cut it in half and make a skirt.

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Re-use clothing parts to renovate clothes in trouble. For instance, if sleeves on a shirt are too short, cut them off just above the cuff and sew on some cut-off sweatshirt sleeves from a too-small or stained garment.

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May 7, 2013

You don't have to throw away your favorite sheath-style dress just because you outgrow it. All things old can become new again with a bit of imagination.

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June 28, 2006

My daughters like to "design" some of their own clothes, which often means they will be either cutting or adding something to their clothing.

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December 22, 2008

When my children were growing up I used to take all my husband's, and my old jeans and shirts and make simple shorts with elastic bands for my kids. Then for my girls and myself I would make little sun tops out of strips of material here is how that is done. Here's how...

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Recently, I saw a lovely blouse on a lady. I complimented her on it. She replied, "Thank You, I bought this along with several other blouses, at a sale, all having long sleeves, I took them home, cut the sleeves off and made me all summer time blouses." She most likely saved a lot of money by doing this.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

November 10, 2019

How can long wider strait leg women's slacks be updated to look contemporary?


November 11, 20190 found this helpful
Best Answer

There are so many cute things kids are doing these days to style their clothes and make them look more contemporary. One way to get a lot of ideas on this is to go to life hacks for clothes and take a look at how simple and easy this one could be. Furthermore, a lot of the older styles in clothes are coming back. I visited the US this year and went shopping with my daughter. I was in shock to see some clothes in the store that my grandmother wore when she was in her 40s and 50s. YouTube has tons of these videos and they are so simple and fun to watch.

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November 13, 20190 found this helpful
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I wear those now! It's how you pair them up. With wide straight leg, I use a thick belt and solid coloured top, and accessorize. It's fun to be a blast from the past :)

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October 26, 2009

What can I do with a t-shirt that is two sizes too small? I really like it and would like to turn it into something I can wear.

By neo from Raleigh, NC


October 27, 20090 found this helpful

I have friends who have turned clothing into pillows.

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October 27, 20090 found this helpful

I would cut out the sleeves also wet it then put it over the back of a chair to stretch it. Let it dry on the chair, if it's still not large enough when you put it on pull & stretch it more, good luck.

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I have been asked to help adjust a dance recital dress for a toddler. She is three years old and the size 6 dress ordered for her was the largest size available. It is too small particularly in the torso and sleeves. The skirt I think will be OK.

Here is what it looks like. The top is pink satin with a Peter Pan collar. It buttons in the back to the waist. It has short puffy sleeves with elastic edging. The skirt sits at the natural waist and has multilayers of underskirts. The main outer layer is cotton. I measured the child in the dress and we need additional inches across the back and in the sleeves.

I would love to make these adjustments without too much cutting. I was thinking I may be able to add a piece of satin (maybe with some spandex?) to the back between the buttons and the buttonholes and then open the seams of the puffy sleeves and add some extra fabric to enlarge the area around the arm and armpit. Or maybe opening the sides of the top and inserting stretchy fabric all the way from the sleeve to the waist and leaving the back area as is; that is, leaving the buttons alone. Any other ideas out there? Thank you so much for any help!

By Joanieb from NY

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I need help altering clothes due to weight loss. Any suggestions to help would be appreciated.

By Karen from Winona, WV

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January 17, 2005

As I get older my waistline expands and I find that my skirts get tighter! I don't want to throw them away, does anyone know of a way to make them larger by "taking them up" at the waistband, and make them elasticated instead of button and zip?

I realize that this will make them slightly shorter but that doesn`t matter. Also, a lot of my skirts have a zip up the front, any ideas how to incorporate that? (I always wear blouses over the top of my skirts, I don't tuck them into the waistband.)

Looking forward to hearing from someone. :)

Jan from England


By (Guest Post)
January 19, 20050 found this helpful

If you haven't grown too much you can loop a rubberband through the button hole and then back through itself and secure the button with the rubberband. Don't know what to do about the zippers, though.

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By missnomer (Guest Post)
May 25, 20050 found this helpful

I read a letter from a woman who sews clothing for many of her (long-distance) relatives. She says that instead of finishing the waistbands of these garments, she sews a buttonhole on the inside of the waistband, pulls both ends of the elastic through it, and secures it with a safety pin. This way her relatives simply try the garment on and sew one line of stitching or just re-pin where they need it! I would leave a little extra elastic on the inside. The buttonhole can be used to add new elastic as needed without cutting your seams. As for your zipper, why not sew it closed using a ladder-stitch by hand or a zig-zag by machine. How about making it into a pocket or adding applique?

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