10 Ways to Refresh Clothing You Already Have + 4 DIY Ideas

10 Ways to Refresh Clothing You Already Have + 4 DIY Ideas


In the current economy, the clothing budget for many of us has shrunk. Luckily, the fashion addicts out there can still create fresh new clothing with little to no cost. Use free sewing patterns, tutorials and ideas to refresh clothing you already have with interesting details such as applique or embroidery and different fits such as with felting or tucking. Friends and family will applaud your creative outfits.

Sweater with New Buttons


  1. Replace the buttons or ribbons on clothing with new, more-exciting alternatives, such as in the image above. Find vintage buttons at thrift stores or purchase online. Ribbons can be purchased inexpensively at craft stores. Check out more Before and After pictures in this article.
  2. Embroidery is a great way to bring life to boring tees, skirts and bags. If you are new to embroidery, you will need an embroidery hoop, embroidery needles (number 10 or 12) and embroidery floss. Here’s a quick rundown on the basic embroidery stitches. For the best squid embroidery design you are likely to find, look here. If squids are not your thing, explore the extensive collection of free embroidery patterns at NeedleCrafter.
  3. Create an elegant drape at the front of a plain cotton or knit shirt, camisole or lightweight sweater with strips of chiffon, grosgrain ribbon or other drapey fabric. Cut 12 strips of 2 x 19 inches and 2 strips of 2.5 x 20 inch in the fabric. With ¼ inch seam allowances, sew pairs of stripes together to create seven tubes. Turn inside out and press. Fold each tube in half with raw edges at the top. With the longest loops in the center, align the tops of all the loops, so they slightly overlap one another. Pin one inch from the raw edge and sew all the loops together. Place this piece along the neckline of your garment. Fold the raw edge over the neckline and pin. Top stitch along the neckline seam of the garment, making sure to tuck the raw edges under. Voila!
  4. Reverse appliqué is one of the best and easiest ways to refresh clothing and can also be used to cover-up holes or stains. Use a paper template in your favorite shape, such as a flower, monogram or musical note. Follow this reverse appliqué tutorial. For Easter or anytime in the spring, consider a cute Easter chick reverse applique.
  5. Add a fabric yo-yo emebellishment to a boring cardigan or jacket or create a fun beaded person pin. This beaded flower would be especially lovely on a sturdy winter coat.
  6. Felting oversized, tired old wool sweaters is great fun. Follow this tutorial for felting wool sweaters, but don’t cut into small pieces. Turn into a cropped vest. You can cut the front and make it a tie-front vest, or just cut off the sleeves. Turn the felted sleeves into coffee cozies or use for other craft projects. If needed, cut to the length you want also. A shorter length, cut at the front and secured with a button can become a shrug. Use chunky yarn to create a disguising decorative stitch at raw cut edges. For one example of how to do this stitch, bring the yarn up from the wrong side about ½ inch to ¾ inch from raw edge. Bring the yarn over the raw edge and come back up from the wrong side of the garment ½ inch or less from the starting point. This up-stitch will hold the loop of yarn. Repeat all the way around the raw edge and knot the yarn ends when finished.
  7. Create a floral brooch or belt to update any garment with lightweight linen or chiffon. Feathers add that unexpected and stylish touch.
  8. Have a spare T-shirt or two? Turn two matching t-shirts into one shirt with a fancy ruffle down the front, with this tutorial from CraftStylish. Or, turn one comfy t-shirt into a pair of comfy capri pants.
  9. Turn a pair of tired wide-legged pants into a skirt, with this pdf tutorial from Machen Machen. Thought technically not clothing, you can also turn a pillowcase into a drawstring skirt, perfect for summer.
  10. Sew pin tucks to make roomy or over-size garments fit more nicely. Follow this great tutorial from Burda Style to sew tucks.


Plus 5 DIY Ideas!

  1. A T-shirt with a Crochet Edge
    A T Shirt with Crochet Edge: Add a pretty crochet edge to any plain and boring T-shirt with this easy free crochet pattern. This is a great look for the warmer months.

  2. Fast Felt Pins
    Fast Felt and Fabric Pins: Dress up your t-shirts or other clothing items with these adorable Fast Felt and Fabric Pins. Everyone will notice your newly re-fashioned flair. This is an easy, decorative craft you can make by following this free pattern.

  3. Freezer Paper Stencil
    Freezer Paper Stencil Fun: Learn how to use freezer paper to create easy t-shirt stencils. Kids can help create shirts painted with their favorites animals or other shapes.

  4. Knotted T-shirt Scarf
    Knotted T-shirt Scarf: Learn how to make a scarf from a T-shirt with this thrifty upcycling tutorial. Sew up a knotted t-shirt scarf for a trendy look on the cheap.

  5. Scribble Shirt
    Scribble Shirt: Upcycle a t-shirt into this adorable and fun scribble shirt with a little bit of bias tape and some imagination. These kids sewing patterns make sewing fun again.





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Thanks so much for this! It really does have great ideas!!!

I love recycling old things,I made a chain scarf out of an old tee shirt I had that I didn't wear any more.

Restyling Thrift Store finds is excitingly addictive to me. I love new ways to redo clothes. Additions such as vintage buttons, crocheting, and 'hanky-slice topped' breast pocket do beautifully. Young girl impatient to have 'lady's style' wool coat? Hot water shrink to fit her, perhaps dying it in the process! For fun, add 'fur' collar and 'old' pins.

Ideas to refresh and upcycle clothing are always welcome. Thanks for the great ideas!

Hi JudyDan, I clicked on the link and it's working fine. I'd try it again. Perhaps your internet wasn't connecting properly last time!

I'd like that info also. I need help. Thanks, mariolle

I'm looking for instructions on how to alter my pantsslacks and shorts. The side seams are always too big (1-1 12") that the pants sag and gather in the seat. I've tried altering by taking in the seams, but they still don't fit well. I've tried altering by ripping the seams and trimming the back panel only, but that still made the seat pucker. Any tips on altering my pantsslacks and shorts are greatly appreciated. Thank you. Lucila

I clicked on the tutorial for sewing pin tucks into garments to make them fit better and it came up to Page Not Found. What happened?


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