Sewing refashioning and upcycling resources

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With The Refashioners in full swing this month (more on this below) we thought it would be handy to bring together lots of upcycling sewing tips and dressmaking tutorials so you have all the information you need to give refashioning a go. Below we’ve got sewing blogs you can find sewing pattern inspiration to give your much loved outfits a DIY makeover.

First up, what is refashioning/upcycling?

Refashioning is specific to clothes and accessories, anything fashion-related. In a nutshell it is the term used for repurposing an outfit into something different. Using an existing outfit that you no longer want or is beyond repair, you use the fabric to create a new outfit. Upcycling is a general term given to anything you creatively reuse instead of recycling – from sofas to cardboard boxes!

What are the benefits?

Refashioning is a creative process and allows you to express your unique style in a way that a pattern out of the packet can’t, it’s the ultimate expression of your individuality. It’s also a good way to give a much loved garment a new lease of life rather than getting rid of it from your wardrobe. It’s also great for the environment, because instead of going into landfill, your fabric is being reused again.

Our top 10 tips for refashioning

  1. Where possible use the original hem of the garment
  2. If you are looking to buy something to refashion, pick a garment in a larger size than yourself as it will give you more fabric to play with
  3. Some things just can’t be refashioned but the fabric can be upcycled into stuffing for cushions etc.
  4. Embroidery works wonders for patching over a hole!
  5. You can also refashion things like pillow cases and duvet covers into clothes
  6. As friends about which charity shops they would recommend, there are some bargains out there if you know where to look!
  7. Garments with less buttons, darts and structuring details make it easier to refashion into a completely different garment
  8. Check the fabric type of the garment, it might be possible to dye the fabric for a completely new look
  9. Cut along the seams rather than unpick them, it saves loads of time and it is unlikely you will need to use the seam fabric
  10. Try to salvage the notions where possible including zips, hook and eyes etc as this will save you time having to put them back in

Sewing challenges and hashtags

Here we’ve got a couple of sewing challenges and hashtags you can use to join in with the sewing community and share your refashion makes.

The Refashioners

The Refashioners is organised by Portia from Makery. Over the last few years Portia has chosen a theme to focus the challenge. The sewing community challenge has two elements, a blogger tour providing inspiration and also the sewists challenge, where you refashion a garment and share it online. This year the theme is suits and the hashtags are #suitsyou #therefashioners2017.

Check out below some of the bloggers who took part in The Refashioners last year.

You can also read about Kate’s Refashioner’s make here. This year it is my turn so watch this space later this month!


Jenniffer Taylor (contestant from The Great British Sewing Bee) started the hashtag #sewingrevolution which is designed to encourage sewists to learn new skills, share your makes and upcycling your makes. Jenniffer also runs workshops around the country you can join in with. Read our Careers in Sewing interview with Jenniffer to find out more about what she does.

We’ve also reviewed her new book ‘Girl with the Sewing Machine‘, which has lots of upcycling tips and projects to get your teeth into!


You may have also spotted this year that The British Heart Foundation launched The Big Stitch, which combined both refashioning and supporting their charitable work. Search for the hashtag #thebigstitch on Instagram for some inspiration.

You can also find out how Gabby (Gabberdastery blog) and Megan (Pigeon Wishes) got on with their #TheBigStitch refashion project on Gabby’s vlog.

Sewing bloggers with refashioning tutorials

Zoe from ‘So, Zo … What do you know?‘ has a huge wealth of refashioning resources and projects, check them all out!

By Hand London have lots of inspiring tutorials teaching you how to refashion clothes.

Nina from Thumblenina shares her refashion makes alongside sewing up new patterns. Here is her stunning transformation of a kimono!

Wendy Ward of MIY Workshop also regularly shares tutorials for refashioning and tips on recycling your fabrics.

Photo © Wendy Ward

You can also get loads of project ideas from different sewists at The Refashion Nation, organised by Sheri Pavlovic of Confessions of a Refashionista check them out here.

Organisations with refashioning resources

Love Your Clothes has loads of information about becoming a refashionista, check out their tips, inspiration and videos here and lots of sewing super crafters.


Fashion Revolution is a great website with lots of information and resources around buying clothes, find out more about their #whomademyclothes campaign.