Tag Archives: upcycled

Upcycled: Girl’s Capris

Today’s project was one of those that came together (finally) – not by intention, but it worked. And worked well!

Upcycled Girls Capris {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I was originally going to cut up these baby corduroy capris into bermuda shorts for River. Since I couldn’t find a free pattern that I liked, I referenced back to a self-drafted pattern I made last year for her (hope to make it available soon for everyone!). However, my end result was not bermuda shorts, (as you have already seen) but capris!


Any shorts or pants pattern. I used a self-drafted bermuda shorts pattern and lengthened the inseam by 2 inches. If you use a pants pattern, decrease the inseam accordingly. The inseam on my 3T pair of capris was 6 inches.


The details I was aiming to keep in this upcycle were the front pockets and the waistband. I wanted these shorts to have an elastic waistband for my 3-year old to easily dress herself (so I wasn’t concerned with keeping the zipper or button closure).

First, if the pattern you are using is a four-piece shorts or pants pattern, tape the front and back panel pieces together, as shown in this photo (you may want to overlap the pieces by the seam allowance so that the capris/shorts aren’t too baggy. I chose not to do that, so River’s capris did end up on the baggier side):

Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Next, cut down the middle of the pants, right on the seam, not worrying about the zipper or button(s). Remember, I’m making these shorts with an elastic waist! Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Take your first pant leg and open it up. You’ll notice parts of these capris have already been cut out…you’ll have to wait until Friday to find out what they made. Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Place your pattern piece on top of your pants/capris, lining up the seam line of the original pants to the middle of the pattern piece. Shift the pattern piece up about 1.5 inches to account for the waistband. Since you don’t have to add a waistband, you will need to make the shorts 1.5 inches shorter (save a little fabric and tons of time!).Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I cut along the pattern piece and added several inches to the bottom to make sure the capris would be long enough for River.Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Then I took that first panel and used it as my pattern piece to cut my second piece. Just make sure you line these up right side to right side or else you’ll be cutting two of the same shorts leg and that wouldn’t work out too well. Again, line up the seam lines here.
Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Now you can begin constructing the shorts. I ended up cutting off part of the back pocket, which was fine, but I did need to sew it back together before stitching the inseams together. Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

This next step was the trickiest. I needed to make sure the elastic would slide through the waistband casing, so I couldn’t just close these shorts shut with a simple stitch. I placed the right sides together and stitched just the outside of the short’s back waistband together. You can see where I pinned; I just sewed that 1.5 inches closed. Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

After sewing the waistband back section together, I repeated that step for the front of the shorts.  Then, I sewed down the front and back seams starting from just under the waistband.

Then I measured River’s waist (20 inches) and cut elastic of 20 inches. I was going to use some upcycled elastic, but didn’t have the time to seam rip it, so I just grabbed some olive green. Not River’s color, but it will be hidden, so it doesn’t matter!

Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I threaded the elastic through the capris’ original waistband.Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Now the elastic is all the way through the shorts and I just have to sew these two sections together, overlapping them by about an inch.Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

All sewn together – you can still see the elastic through the front and back sections that are not sewn shut. I sewed these carefully with my sewing machine, taking care not to sew the elastic to the front or back of the pants. You could also sew these shut by hand. These sections will be on the inside of the shorts, so they won’t get seen.Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Then I finished the capris by sewing and serging the inseam. At this point I tried the shorts on River and measured how much I needed to hem to make them the perfect length. I love the way they turned out, plus since they are a bit baggy, they will make great bermuda shorts next year for her!

Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}{I love my new capris, Mom!}

Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}
Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycled Capris Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}
Upcycled Capris {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}{ok, Mama, I’m done}

Here’s the breakdown:

Upcycled Girl's Capris Time and Cost {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Head on over to Feather’s Flights today for some cute baby shorts and bloomers plus a FREE pattern too!

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)

Upcycled: Boy’s Baggies (Shorts)

Welcome back to week two of Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid’s Wardrobe. Today I’m going to share with you my new go-to shorts for boys. And you can make your own from a shirt, sweatshirt, or pants.  Are you ready?!
Upcycled Boy's Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

This is the third time I’ve made these shorts, and I love the results every time. My first edition ran a bit large since the pattern indicated 2/3 T, and Carpenter wears a 4/5. I enlarged the pattern, and the shorts were way too big on him. So, the next time, I kept the pattern just the way it was, and they helped complete my Project Run and Play look back in February.

Today’s version is slightly different since I upcycled them from 95% from this polo shirt and 5% from the lime green shirt I used for Carpenter’s raglan.  So, grab yourself a polo shirt and the pattern and make some awesome shorts!

Boy’s Baggies by Designs by Sessa

{Disclosure: These are not our patterns, and we don’t claim any rights to them. They are kindly offered for free by the pattern designers. The patterns and tutorials must be obtained at the pattern designers’ sites.}


I started with this short-sleeve men’s XL polo:

Upcycled Baggie Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Cut down the sides of the shirt:Upcycled Baggie Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}Since this shirt was striped, I wanted to make sure the stripes would line up perfectly on my “new” shorts. It was pretty funny that the original stripes on the shirt didn’t even line up perfectly! Just another reason to give yourself some credit when sewing – not even mass-produced clothes are perfect.

I wanted to make sure I used the original hem of these shorts, so I started lining up the stripes beginning with the bottom and worked my way up from there.

Upcycled Baggie Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Here are the short’s front panels. You can see there’s a little bit of white stripe at the top of the right piece, but it will get hidden once I place the waistband over it. Upcycled Baggie Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Also, since I was using the same stripe fabric for the inside of the pocket, I wanted to make sure the front pattern piece’s stripes matched up with the inner pocket piece’s stripes. I simply placed the original shirt down first, then the pocket pattern piece, and then lined up the short’s front piece on top as you can see here:

Upcycled Baggie Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I maneuvered the pieces…and made the stripes line up!

Next, I cut off the collar of this shirt to use as the waistband. I love how Vanessa from Designs by Sessa also uses an old shirt for her baggies too – and here she uses the bottom of the terry pullover for the waistband.Upcycled Baggie Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

And remember my son’s raglan made from this shirt:Upcycled Raglan for Boys {Sew Thrifty| www.sewthrifty.org}

I cut off the lime neckband to use as the ribbing/bias binding for the pockets. Other than that, I followed Designs by Sessa’s tutorial and finished my shorts.

Upcycled Lime Raglan and Baggies {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycled Boy's Baggy Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org} Upcycled Boy's Baggy Shorts {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Here’s the breakdown:Upcycled Striped Baggies Time and Cost {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Feather’s Flights has some awesome shorts and pants today as well! Go check out her denim shorts and cargo pants for some inspiration.
Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)Are you enjoying our upcycled series? Have you made any clothes for your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, friends’ kids out of thrifted or used clothing? We would love to see them! Tag #upcycledkid on Instagram and see what others are creating too.

Upcycled: Baby Lap Dress + FREE Pattern!

I’m so excited to wrap-up week one of upcycling with a FREE pattern! Introducing the Baby Lap Dress…

Upcycled Baby Lap Dress FREE pattern {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I wanted something that could save the neck binding of the original shirt, but also be easy to sew with no snaps or buttons (I still feel like a newbie sewer, so I like to keep things simple). There are plenty of baby dress and bodysuit patterns out there, but none quite fit what I was needing in order to save as much as I could from the original shirt. So, I created my own pattern! (This is my first pattern. **Insert squeal here**. I’m offering it free and as such, it hasn’t been tested. Please be nice if you come across any issues with the pattern.)


1. Free pattern (size 6-12 mos, approx.) {Print on US Letter paper with scaling set to “none”. This pattern has not been tested on A4 paper}
2. T-shirt (check your closet, thrift store, or garage sale)
3. Coordinating thread
4. Basic sewing supplies: sewing machine, pins, scissors, etc.


Step 1: Find a t-shirt to upcycle. See Heather’s tips here for finding great items to upcycle. I chose this super soft tee that I bought while vacationing in San Diego (pre-kids, so it doesn’t fit, and no, it never will. I’m over it). This shirt is a Small, so it’s a great one to upcycle for babies. Most upcycling garments need to be L-XL in order to best fit your pattern for bigger kids, but you can still get some great material out of any size garment. This baby dress is a great pattern to use for those smaller tees that you have lying around!

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}

Step 2: Prepare your shirt. Cut out the tag. Babies don’t need all that extra stuff rubbing up against them.

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}

Cut the shirt down the sides. If your shirt has a side seem, just cut along that. If you chose a shirt with no seems, you might want to mark where to cut or just eye-ball it. I didn’t cut the sleeves off because I wasn’t able to use them to make the sleeves for the dress. However, you can cut the sleeves off at this point too, or wait until you’ve cut your front and back pattern pieces.

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}

Step 3: Cut your dress front. Fold the original shirt front in half while the back of the shirt is up and to the left of the shirt front. I lined up the sleeves and side seems here to be sure I folded the shirt in the middle. Or you can eye-ball the graphic on your shirt to be sure it will line up in the middle of your dress when you cut the pattern. (Note: I use a rotary cutter for everything, so I don’t pin. If you don’t have a rotary cutter or don’t want to use one, simple pin the pattern at this step and cut using your fabric scissors). Cut out your dress front.Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}

You can see in this photo that I made sure the top of the pattern piece and the neckband of the original shirt lined up as best as possible. You don’t have to line these up perfectly, as your shirt may have a slightly different shape, but it should still work in the end.Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}

Step 4: Cut your dress back. Line up the back pattern piece to the back of the original shirt on the fold and cut it out.

Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Step 5: Cut your sleeves. You can use the sleeves of your original shirt to make the sleeves of your baby dress! In my case, the original sleeves were a bit short, so I used the bottom of the shirt. But most sleeves will be long enough for you to use. Line up the hem and fold line with the pattern piece as indicated and cut 2 sleeve pieces.BabyLapDressTutorial-8

OK, now you’re ready to piece the dress together!

Step 6: Line up the dress front and back. Don’t do what I did and line them up wrong. Be sure to place them WRONG side (dress back) to RIGHT side (dress front). It should look how you want the final garment to look. Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I overlapped them by about 2 inches. Here’s a close-up:
Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty |www.sewthrifty.org}

Here’s a picture of how to do it the right way:

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Ahh…much better!

Step 7: Attach the sleeves to the dress. Place the RIGHT side of the sleeve to the RIGHT side of the dress arm hole. Line up the middle of the sleeve to the middle of the arm hole (the the middle of where the front and back dress pieces overlap). Working from the middle, pin the sleeve to the dress until you reach the end of the arm hole. Do the same for the other section of the sleeve. Now you have the sleeve all pinned to the dress pieces. Go ahead and pin the other sleeve at this point too. (I like to double check that I’ve pinned correctly by flipping the sleeve over to be sure I pinned the right side. Cause, you know, I’ve been known to make mistakes 🙂 ) Sew these seams. I use a serger, but you can also use a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine ( set at .5 width and approx. 2.5/3 length). And always use a ball point needle when sewing with knits.

Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty |www.sewthrifty.org}

Step 8: Pin and sew side seams. Placing RIGHT sides together, line up the sleeve hem and pin down the side of your dress. Line up your sleeve seams as well and the rest of the side should line up to the bottom of the dress.Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty |www.sewthrifty.org}

Sew down both sides, flip the dress right side out, and you’re done!Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty |www.sewthrifty.org}

I chose not to hem the dress. Since it’s a knit, the ends won’t fray. I did tuck the ends of my thread back through the seams using the method I mention here.

If you wanted to go for a more polished look, you would hem the dress at this point. Simply fold under about 3/8″ (or 1 cm) and hem using your preferred hemming method.

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Add in a headband (made with the same shirt; tutorial coming next week!) and some cute upcycled baby shoes (that I will share with you next week – made from the hems of pants!) and you’ve got yourself a little stylish outfit for your babe.

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}

Then whip up another one because they are so fast and easy!

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}{What? The back of my shirt is wrong?!}

Baby Lap Dress {Sew Thrifty|www.sewthrifty.org}{Oh well, I’m cute. No one will even notice}

Baby Lap Dress FREE Pattern 6-12 mos {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}{Plus I’ll just grin and my mom will make me another one}

Here’s the breakdown:

Baby Lap Dress Tutorial {Sew Thrifty |www.sewthrifty.org}


And for something a bit different for babies, check out what Heather has for them today. Plus, she’s got an amazingly quick backpack you can whip up from a used t-shirt as well!

Hope you’re enjoying this series. Keep tagging #upcycledkid on Instagram and be sure to come back Monday for another week of great upcycling tips and tutorials!

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)

Upcycled: Raglan for Boys

Do you ever realize how many free or event-related shirts you amass over the years? Today’s tutorial will show you  how to make use of those shirts for your kids.

This post is the second of my versions of  the Raglan Shirt Pattern by Nap-Time Creations.  You can view my girl’s version of the raglan here.

{Disclosure: These are not our patterns, and we don’t claim any rights to them. They are kindly offered for free by the pattern designers. The patterns and tutorials must be obtained at the pattern designers’ sites.}

Upcycled Boy Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Both the gray and lime fabrics came from shirts with over-sized graphics. These are very common with shirts you can receive for donating money, company shirts, or team shirts. Some of these shirts are sentimental, but others are just filling up your closet…or your trash pile. Now, there’s something you can do with them!

Upcycled Raglan for Boys {Sew Thrifty| www.sewthrifty.org}

This shirt was a friend’s that she and her whole family had worn in support of March for Babies. An awesome cause, but she didn’t need 5 of these matching shirts past the day of the walk. She kindly packed up this one and many others and delivered them free to my house. Free fabric! Free delivery! I have the best friends.

Upcycled Raglan for Boys {Sew Thrifty| www.sewthrifty.org}

Because the graphic on the back was so large, I could only use this shirt for the front in the size I needed. There was still some leftover on the back that I’ll use for other small projects.Upcycled Raglan for Boys {Sew Thrifty| www.sewthrifty.org}

As you can see above, I folded my t-shirt and lined up the bottom of the pattern to the bottom of the shirt. Since I didn’t have to bother with hemming the shirt, I could have slid the pattern piece down to account for not hemming. However, I like longer shirts (makes them last longer on my constantly-growing kiddos), so I kept the pattern piece as pictured above to gain an extra inch or so. Upcycled Raglan for Boys {Sew Thrifty| www.sewthrifty.org}

For the sleeve, I did slide the pattern piece off the edge of the t-shirt’s original sleeve. I wanted a short-sleeve shirt and nothing longer than that.

Upcycled Raglan for Boys {Sew Thrifty| www.sewthrifty.org}

I did the same cutting process for the back of the shirt and cut off the neckband of this gray shirt to use for my final raglan.

Also, since I used the original hem of the shirts, when I serged my shirt together, I ended up with a tail of additional thread. (This will also happen if you’re using a sewing machine, although if you back stitch your seams should stay put.) When using a serger, I use this method to keep my thread tails from coming apart:

Finishing Serger Hems {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}



And now the shirt is completely done and ready to be worn!Upcycled Lime Raglan and Baggies {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycled Lime Raglan and Baggies {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycled Lime Raglan and Baggies {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

And I know you saw those awesome shorts up there! Don’t worry, those will be coming next week.

Here’s the breakdown:

Upcycled Boy's Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Check out what Feather’s Flights is up to today with her peasant style tunic!

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)

Have you upcycled any garments for your kids? Tag #upcycledkid on Instagram so we can see all the awesomeness you are creating! Or share a link in the comments.

Upcycled: Raglan for Girls

Have you ever held on to something for 20 years and then found the perfect moment to do something with it? No? Just me? OK, well, today is the day!

Welcome back to another day of thrifty sewing for your kids! Have you been following along here and at Feather’s Flights? If not, be sure to go back and see why we upcycle, tips for shopping thrift storeshow to get the most out of one item, and my first featured project – a colorblocked muscle tee. 

Now, onto today! I’ll be sharing two projects from the same FREE pattern – the Raglan Shirt Pattern by Nap-Time Creations.  This pattern is a unisex pattern offered for a wide range of sizes: 18 mos – 6T. Ladies first!

Upcycled Girl Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

{Disclosure: These are not our patterns, and we don’t claim any rights to them. They are kindly offered for free by the pattern designers. The patterns and tutorials must be obtained at the pattern designers’ sites.}

As I was going through my closet and my huge pile of clothes to be upcycled, I ran across just about every color…except pink. I just have never worn pink. But to my 3-year old, pink is her world. And because  I focus so much on making clothes for Carpenter,  I wanted to make something special just for her that she would cherish. Finally, in the depths of my storage, I came across this youth XL t-shirt I bought when I was 10! I still remember my youth and the love for chipmunks, and obviously I couldn’t bear to get rid of this shirt.

Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Since I really was focused on saving the graphic and not the hem (like here), I made sure the graphic was centered before I cut. Graphics can be hard to save in some shirts since adult shirts have graphics that can be quite large. Be sure to measure the graphic or the pattern before purchasing any thrift store graphic tees.

When checking to see if your desired graphic will work for your pattern, be sure to account for seam allowances. In the case of this raglan pattern, I had to make sure the neckline, sleeve seam, and side seam all were at least 3/8″ (1cm) away from my graphic. And they were! If this is not the case for your upcycled garment, try color blocking to keep your desired graphic.

Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Once you have your graphic ready, either pull the back of the shirt away from your cutting area or cut down the sides of the shirt. Then fold the front of the shirt and line up your pattern piece as indicated. Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

I always use a rotary cutter and weights, but if you use scissors, simply pin your pattern piece on and cut.Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Done! The graphic looks slightly off-centered, but it’s pretty close. I doubt my 3 year old will care. 🙂Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

The black sleeves are from a friend’s old shirt that I want to be able to use the logo for a future project. The neckband ribbing is from another black shirt (the first one had gray ribbing for the collar)

I was able to save the hem on the black shirt by using the existing hem to cut new sleeves. I started by folding the shirt and then lining up my pattern piece to the hem.

Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Since this shirt is for my girl, I wanted the sleeves a bit shorter than what was recommended. You can see below that I just slid the pattern down off the original shirt. Then I cut around the pattern piece there.Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

For the second sleeve, I cut around my first sleeve piece (to make sure the lengths of the sleeves were equal).Upcycled Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}Lastly, I cut out the neckband from another black shirt to use for the raglan neckband. You can choose to rip out the seams of a neckline, but that’s what too much work for me! I just cut as close as possible to the seam; the new neckband will be slightly smaller than the original, but for kid’s clothes it looks fine.

Then I followed the directions from the original pattern, and River has a pink shirt to call her own!

Upcycled Chipmunk Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycled Chipmunk Raglan {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Here’s the breakdown:ChipmunkRaglanTimeCost.jpg

And be sure to hop on over to Feather’s Flights to see her peasant style dress!Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)

So….have you raided your closets yet to sew something up for your kiddos?! Feather’s Flights and I would love to see what you are sewing! Tag #upcycledkid on Instagram for your chance to be featured.

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid’s Wardrobe

This blog has been a bit bare lately, but there’s a good reason. I’ve given myself a little break in preparation for an amazing two-week series all about upcycling, being hosted here and over at Feather’s Flights.

Are you ready??! Come join us for:

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid’s Wardrobe

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)

Throughout the next two weeks we will be showing you how to turn thrifted and used adult clothing into something amazing for the kids in your life. All of the patterns we are using during this series are FREE. Some are our patterns, but others belong to their designers.

{Disclosure: These are not our patterns, and we don’t claim any rights to them. They are kindly offered for free by the pattern designers. The patterns and tutorials must be obtained at the pattern designers’ sites.}

Upcycle means to cut up and reuse fabric to create a new clothing or accessory item. If you’ve never used adult clothing (or bed sheets, pillow cases, blankets, or purses) to sew for your kids before, you may be asking yourself: why upcycle in the first place? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Why Upcycle?

Upcycling is one of the best and easiest ways to make fun and unique clothing for your children (or yourself, for that matter, but we’re focusing on the kids right now).  Plus, there are so many tips, tricks, techniques, and tutorials that can help you – maximize what you can get out of your original garment, use existing hems, graphics, and professional features, 

Plus, upcycling is inexpensive, saves time, helps the environment, and decreases our slavery footprint.

Upcycling is... {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty.org}

Upcycling Saves Money

Fabric can be very expensive; that might lead some of you to think that sewing is too costly and it would be cheaper to buy ready-to-wear clothing from big department stores. Unless… you know where to look for (some of the best) fabric: your closet, thrift stores, garage sales, or friends who are cleaning out (I may be known to hit up a friend or two…or five). 

Plus, since old clothing is practically free, it’s okay to make mistakes! Some of my first sewing projects began by seeing what I could do with old t-shirts. I practiced, messed up a little, learned, got better, and now most t-shirts I cut into end up as something awesome for my kids. All the while, those first tees I used cost me nothing and gave me confidence to learn a new skill!

Upcycling Saves Time

Yes, most of the time sewing a tee for your kid will take more time than running to the nearest Target and picking up their summer wardrobe. Unless you’re like me with three kids under the age of 4  – and it takes an hour to get out the door, $6 in food to appease them while I shop, 4 trips to the bathroom, then the realization that it’s almost dinner time and you might as well eat out since that will take less time than making something at home, and 4 hours have past and what did you go to Target for?! Ok, ok, I’m really more organized than that.  But to be honest, it does take me less time to whip out a basic shirt or skirt than to attempt that treacherous trip to the department store.  

And when you upcycle clothing you have the added benefit of saving some of the original details (hems!) which in turn saves you time. Your garment looks professionally finished, but it took you less time than making it from scratch. 

Upcycling Saves the Earth

There are so many ways we can help our environment. One is to reduce the amount of waste caused by textiles. In any given year, the average US citizen gets rid of 82 pounds of textiles but only donates or recycles 12 of those pounds. That’s another 70 pounds of fabric heading straight for landfills (EPA Federal Waste Study, 2009). As upcyclers, we can save the landfills of those textiles by refashioning old garments into new ones.

The next time you begin to trash or donate an article of clothing, think hard about what it might become – a tank for your son, skirt or dress for your daughter, cloth wipes for your baby, or even dust rags or filling for your kid’s bean bag! And I encourage you to clean out and think about each item of clothing you bought – how many times did I wear that oversized sweatshirt? do I really need 25 tank tops? (I’ll admit, I have more than 25 tank tops, :/ but hopefully soon they’ll become something cute for my daughters!) That process might help you save some cash the next time you desire to purchase something for yourself. And, hey, that goes back to saving you money again. (Did I tell you I like to save money?)

Upcycling Saves People

This is probably the most over-looked, yet most important reason why I became even more convicted to upcycle and sew all my own clothes. To give it to you honestly but without all the depressing details – the majority of clothing companies use slave labor to make their clothes. Ok, maybe that was news to you and maybe it was depressing. I’ve been doing a lot of my own research lately, and my stance on this topic is that this is something that people have to come to understand on their own.

So, I encourage you to check out Free2Work, understand the Fashion Revolution movement, watch the newly released True Cost Movie. You can even answer some questions to understand your slavery footprint. Upcycling is my way of ensuring no person is slaving away at the final stage of my garments. Plus, I’m saving additional workers by using fabric that has already been manufactured and processed.

Throughout this series we’ll show you tips and techniques for saving money and time by refashioning used clothes into fashionable clothes for your kids. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

First, hop on over to Feather’s Flights today and learn about how to make the most out of your thrift store shopping trip!

Upcycled: Learn to Sew Your Kid's Wardrobe. A Series by Feather's Flights (feathersflights.com) and Sew Thrifty (sewthrifty.org)

We would love to see your upcycled creations as well! If you’re on Instagram, use #upcycledkid so we can see all your fun refashioned kid’s clothes.

Time to Travel eBook Tour: Just Like Papa Briefcase and eBook extras

Welcome Sewing with Boys readers! I am so excited to join on this eBook tour for several reasons: I have a boy (Carpenter), I love sewing for boys, I love traveling, and I’m taking my whole crew on a BIG almost cross-country road trip this summer.  So, I am going to need all the extra goodies I can get my hands on. Oh, and I don’t let my kids use mobile devices, and we barely watch TV.  Am I ready for a 2.5 day road trip with 3 kids ages 4 and under? Oh dear, just writing that out made it feel more real. But, we are going, so I am packing all the goodies I made from the Time to Travel eBook.

The eBook has 4 patterns and some fun extras. I made the Just like Papa Briefcase and the extra activities.

First up: the eBook extras

The extras include: pirate map, lacing cards, play travel documents, a nautical flag banner, and a coloring page.

For the pirate map, I used an old pair of jeans and some freezer paper to stencil on the map that was included in the eBook. I burned the edges a bit and make the jeans fray to make the map look a bit older and “real.” Before I even finished it, my kids were asking where the treasure was and how to find it! I might have to make another one for my daughter….


I love lacing cards! My son is quite rough though and bent the last ones we had. So this time I had him help me cut, punch the holes, and color the cards. Maybe if he feels some ownership over these, he will take better care of them? Hey, one can hope. But at least if these do get damaged, we can just make some more!




Also included are a driver’s license, passport, and airplane ticket. These are so fun – I just need to pop in a photo of Carpenter and we’re all set!


{Where’s my passport pic, mama? I’m ready to go to Nicaragua!}

I had intentions of making Carpenter a matching game with the nautical flag banner pattern but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Our trip isn’t until July though, so I know it will get done before then.

Next: Just Like Papa Briefcase

I was so excited to make this briefcase! About 2 years ago I had purchased the Birch travel fabric and brown corduroy to make Carpenter a bag and never got around to making it. So this tour was a great shove to get moving and make that case.

On one side there are “stickers” of where Carpenter has been and on the other side is where he plans to go soon with a few extra blank ones for future destinations. As I was making these, I realized he’s a pretty well-traveled little guy at only 4 years old. We are very blessed that we can offer the world to our kids and hope they blossom because of their travels.



I used the Birch fabric for the inside pockets. The outside of the briefcase is a brown corduroy I scored at a thrift store for $2 (for 3 yards!), and the yellow lining fabric was gifted to me.



Time to go!
Does anyone know where the bus stop is?
Oh, I see it, over there!
Hurry, I’m going to be late!
And now I’m early…guess I’ll just sit here.
At least I’ve got lots of fun things to do!
Yay, here’s my bus!

Here’s the breakdown:


I didn’t include the time it took to manually draw each of the unique stickers (about 2 hours) on the outside of the briefcase. Also, these were the 3rd, 4th, and 5th zippers I have ever sewn, so if you’re more experienced, this briefcase probably won’t take you as long.

Thanks so much for visiting with me on tour, and I hope you’ll stick around to see just how fun and thrifty sewing can be!

You can purchase the full eBook here

Enter the Rafflecopter below to win one of these fantastic prizes:
Grand prize: $50 gift certificate to FabricWorm and a copy of Time to Travel*

2nd: 1 yard of fabric from Mabel Madison and a copy of Time to Travel*

3rd: a copy of Time to Travel*

*If you buy the eBook and win the giveaway, they will either refund your money, or send the copy on to a friend of your choice.

But, that’s not all! If you buy the eBook during the tour, you’ll be automatically entered to win a $30 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out these other amazing blogs for more inspiration with the Time to Travel eBook!

April 20: Rachel at Once Upon A Sewing Machine || Michelle at Falafel and the Bee

April 21: Becca at Free Notion || Heather at All Things Katy!

April 22: Chelsea at GYCT Designs || Ula at Lulu & Celeste

April 23: Stephanie at Swoodson Says || Sherri at Thread Riding Hood

April 24: Meriel at Create3.5 || Sara at Made by Sara

April 27: Melissa at Oh Sew Boy! || Stacey at Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts

April 28: Teri at Climbing the Willow || Ajaire at Call Ajaire

April 29: Jessica at The Berry Bunch || Dana at Sew Thrifty

April 30: Stacey at From-a-Box || Maegen at Mae & K

May 1: Kelly at Handmade Boy || Roxanne at Pen, Seb & Rox

See ya Later (Alligator)! {Kid’s Clothes Week: Days 2 & 3}

When I first found out about Kid’s Clothes Week’s theme WILD Things, I had just taken my crew to the local zoo. And Carpenter was all about the alligators….that we didn’t even see. And I’m not even sure we have alligators at our zoo, which is hilarious because we have alligators in the water about 1 mile from our house. Yes, I’ve seen them. And yes, I’m terrified. And yes, Carpenter wanted to get closer. Um, no.

But, the dude likes alligators and that was his animal of choice, so here we go! The idea in my head was to combine pieces of old t-shirts to create the stripes of an alligator’s belly for the front of the tank. Initially, I was going to make it an ombre style look, but then realized I just didn’t have the proper greens to make it work. So, I found these two olive greens that were slightly different and decided to stick with just those two to make the stripes.  Then added a pocket because Carpenter requests pockets. Always.


For the back, I did the stripes vertically to mimic the back of an alligator, and then the shirt just took on a mind of its own. I added the graphic “See you later (alligator)” and pieced the whole tank together. And THEN, the tank was begging for me to really make the back look like alligator ridges, so I cut little triangles all down the center of the back. Phew. Done.





And he likes it!


See you later! (seriously, come back tomorrow for my last little WILD thing of the week)

I used FishSticks Designs FREE Tank pattern, some leftover gray ribbing, a scrap of black from a Target jersey sheet, and 2 old green t-shirts.

Here’s the breakdown:


Garments of Kids Clothes Weeks’ Past

It’s like the ghosts of Christmas past, except not really. Anyway…since it always takes longer to sew and blog about something than just to sew it, I’m going to preview this Kid’s Clothes Week with some garments I’ve sewn up in previous seasons. And here’s to hoping I’m able to make and blog throughout the week!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of the links noted by an *, I will receive some compensation if you purchase something.

Fall 2014 {Theme: Storybook}

My kids needed clothes during this KCW, so I didn’t follow the theme. I had big plans for this week and didn’t achieve all of them, but I did make 2 pairs of pants and 1 top for Carpenter, and 1 top for River.


 Treasure Pocket Pants from Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe*. Fabric from an old pair of khakis and rocket fabric.


 Deer Bimaa with fabric from Girl Charlee *


 Viking Hoodie. Pattern from Ottobre (4/2014) , fabric from Kitschy Coo

Winter 2015 {Theme: Upcycle}

I was so excited about this theme, I could hardly handle it…and then I got carpal tunnel half-way through the week. I was still able to muscle out 3 shirts for Carpenter and some footed pants for Lioness though.KCWPast-6

Raw-Edged Raglan from Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe*.  Fabric was a white t-shirt and a pink Target jersey sheet.


Snap Button v-neck (without the snaps, ha) from Ottobre 1/2013. Fabric from a men’s XL shirt and teal jersey scrap.


Another Raw-Edged Raglan from Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe.*  Fabric upcycled from two Old Navy shirts.

As you can see, I’m a bit in love with the Sewing for Boys book and Ottobre too. In the coming months I’m going to share with you about how I chose and what matters to me when it comes to patterns.

Now, here’s to a productive Kid’s Clothes Week!

Project Run & Play: Star Student Muscle Tee

When the Project Run & Play challenge for February was announced, I was just about beside myself!  The tutorial, from Living with Punks, was the Mademoiselle Muscle Tee. I LOVE muscle tees! One of the first items I started sewing for my son was a muscle tee. So, I knew I was going to create a look for my son, and tailor it to fit him perfectly.

My son LOVES to read (seriously, when he was a 1 year old he would sit still longer than most 3 year olds if someone was reading to him). He also loves school and is very smart, picking up concepts faster than I can even comprehend.  I wanted to create a look that was centered around the idea of his big Brain muscle, but also look cool. We’re pretty big nerds in our family (Doctor Who, anyone? And I may have an advanced degree in applied statistics. Oh, and my husband is a gamer and a programmer. Yea, nerds.) But nerds can look cool too, right?
Since my son is in preschool at home, school looks like the woods, the beach, the kitchen, and anywhere else where we can explore, get messy, and learn by doing.
The shirt was created to celebrate my son’s accomplishments. Preschool is about fun and play and encouraging learning of all kinds. Stars are a great way to show kids that they did a good job (plus I love a good star fabric, so it was a no-brainer).
I used a raw-edge raglan look for the shoulders and kept the sleeve edges raw as well. The star was appliqued on with an orange contrast stitching. The gray fabric was upcycled from an old men’s t-shirt. I even cut out the neckline from the men’s shirt and cut it down to fit this muscle tee. All fabrics except the gray were from Girl Charlee (aff link).
These shorts are supposed to mimic a piece of paper – stripes with thicker sections in between. I was going to place letters on the shorts, but once I got the look together, I just loved it this way – nice and simple. These shorts are made from a ponte knit with scrap ribbing for the pocket outlines. The cording is taken from the bags a Target sheet comes in {FREE!}.
And here’s the breakdown:
Muscle Tee:

Green Baggies:



(You wanna piece of me?)


(Just kidding, I’m really very sweet)

Now, go check out all the other amazing entries this month!


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