The shirt off your back

The shirt off your back

This week, I was inspired by fellow non-consumer Kelly to try a little wardrobe upcycling. I turned two unloved t-shirts into cool tank tops for training. I wore this one to my yoga class this morning and got an instant compliment from a fellow yogi! Hurrah! Validation!!!

I've taken some step-by-step pictures in case you want to try it yourself. If you're not brave enough to attack your favourite t-shirt but would still love to transform it, maybe Kelly can do it for you. Check out her customize your own service on her etsy page.




1. Select a t-shirt and cut off the sleeves so that it becomes a tank top.

Tip: Use the first sleeve as a pattern to cut the second so the cuts are about the same size and shape.





2. Cut the body of the t-shirt away from the collar at the back only, so that it looks like a halter-neck.

Tip: Now is a good time to get rid of the label, if there is one at the back of the neck. Either cut it down very closely with sharp scissors or carefully unpick the threads holding it in place.




3. Cut two long slits in the back of the t-shirt to make three strips of fabric. Cut from the top (nearest the collar) and cut 1/3 to 1/2 the way down depending on how loose the shirt is and how tightly you want it to fit.

4. Plait the three strips of fabric together and attach the ends neatly to the collar. You can use a needle and thread for this but I used my sewing machine. Three short rows of running stitch would probably be plenty but I doubled back for extra strength.

Tip: make sure that the plait (braid) attaches to the middle point of the collar so that your new tank top is not wonky! Measure it or cheat and attach it right where the label used to be.

Upcycling clothes you already have is a fantastic way to fight the scourge of fast fashion. You get to wear something new but it doesn’t cost the earth!

I calculate that every t-shirt I upcycle has a double impact on the environment. Firstly, it's one less item of new clothing being produced. That means, less raw material consumed, fewer dyes polluting our water systems, no additional production of polyester (which is produced using fossil fuels and contributes to the presence of micro-plastics in our drinking water). Secondly, it's one less item of clothing being thrown away. Many of our unwanted clothes end up in landfill, even those that we think are destined for recycling, because the technology necessary to recycling them is not developed enough to be economically viable. According to a report by Greenpeace,   "the promotion of the circularity myth that clothes could be “infinitely recycled” may even be increasing guilt-free consumption". 

Are you feeling inspired to upcycle something? Maybe you already have. Let me know in the comments. And, if the upcycling bug has bitten you hard, you can find lots more ideas here.

Reusables: a good-enough guide

Reusables: a good-enough guide

New sneakers?

New sneakers?