“The goal of upcycling is to prevent wasting potentially useful materials by making use of existing ones. This reduces the consumption of new raw materials when creating new products. Reducing the use of new raw materials can result in a reduction of energy usage, air pollution, water pollution and even greenhouse gas emissions.” McDonough & Braungart (Cradle to Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things)
I like to sew and I like to recycle so the concept of upcycling is right up my alley! It is not a new phenomenon, people have been making all kinds of stuff out of old stuff for ages. We have all seen that gorgeous recycled timber furniture or artwork made from old anything, really. Some upcycling looks great, some does not. Here is a list of blogs dedicated to upcycling.
Upcycling doesn’t just mean homemade. Melbourne based fashion designer, Ellie Mucke has made a whole range of clothes and jewellery from recycled materials. Her cleverly designed work is sustainable, ethical and an inspiration to other businesses. Fashion and being environmentally minded go hand in hand here. You can look good, and really feel good on many levels!
More and more I am concerned how cheap it is to by children’s clothes form large department stores that perhaps are in fact costing the earth in other ways through the manufacturing of new fabrics and the use of sweatshop labour. It seems a bit too easy to just buy new stuff and throw the other stuff out when it gets too small or a bit worn.
I came across a free pattern on the web a while ago for making easy toddler pants and more recently I decided that I could use my husbands old pants instead of buying new fabric. Thrifty & environmentally friendly!!
Old jeans or pants (with back pockets, preferably)
Elastic for waist-band
What to do:
1. Lay the old pants flat on a table and place the pattern on them so the outer leg seam is on the fold line of the pattern. This way your new pants will have a nice seam on the outer leg. This also works really well if the old pants you are using have stitch details (like jeans). Find some of your childs pants that currently fit them to lay over the top to check the length and width before you do any cutting (you know the old saying-measure twice and cut once!!)
2. After cutting out the pants, find a nice comfy seat and get out your unpicking tool- unpicking the back pockets off pants can take some time. Jeans can be particularly time consuming.
3. Pin your pockets onto the pant legs BEFORE you do any sewing. It is much harder to sew them on after you have sewn the pant legs up! I always sew them on the side down a bit lower than regular pockets so they are easy to use. They also look pretty funky! Sew the pockets on following the marks from where the old stitching used to be.
5. Add some elastic for the waist.
6. Hem. I try the pants on before hemming. Measuring the length of pants from another pair doesn’t always work out!!
7. Sit back and bath in the glory of your new, funky, environmentally friendly, thrifty new pants.