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Take a look at some of my favorite upcycled and reclaimed projects that have stood out on BurdaStyle for their quality, good photography and fun styling! If you’re into reclaimed or upcycled fashion read on!

Have you made any new year’s resolutions? I wage one on you: Make one upcycled project and share it with us! Do you upcycle? Do you reuse scraps to piece together a new ensemble? What have you upcycled?

Kids: VeryPurplePerson made an adorable pair of pants for her son. The fabric is upcycled from a maternity wool jumper that she found in a thrift store. Little Red Riding Hood? What a sweet pea coat for a child! Upcycled from a failure of a jacket Onlyoneme made a few years ago, this is sewn in a drill cotton that has a brushed side to it.

Scrapping: What to do with all of those fabric scraps laying around? Make fabric covered beads and string them to make a beautiful upcycled necklace! What about leather scraps? How about making a pieced together leather bolero? Lauriana never ceases to amaze!!

Photography Tip: Set your digital camera to an ISO setting of 100, and take the largest sized photos you can. The ISO setting determines the graininess of a picture. Many times we can’t feature or print certain photos because they are too grainy. The photos above work because they are well lit, have a neutral background, have a high resolution (at least 600 dpi).

Surplus Silk: Surplus fabric is fabric that was mass produced in the past and is now left over from another time. This stunning handmade skirt and sleeveless top made from surplus designer silk and is floral fun! The straps are made from reclaimed belts.

Photography tip: Shoot in front of a blank or neutral background. If you must be indoors a clean section of wall without clutter or in front of a closed door can work. If you go outdoors, find an empty field or the side of a building.

Refashioning: Refashioning is altering an existing piece of clothing to create a new and (hopefully) improved piece. This refashioned white men’s shirt turned into a wonderful shirt dress. I love how she styled it with black tights and brown boots. The refashioned blue dress to the right was made from a childhood dress of the user’s sister.

Coffee Bags: This charming Durango bag (left) is structured with reused coffee bag burlap, and lined with a smooth, white and faded red cotton. The tote is made from 100% upcycled and reused fabrics. Ever since Dutch crown princess Maxima showed herself in a gorgeous jacket made of old mail bags, Dutch sewers en masse started recycling these bags into pillows, bags, clothes…

Sweaters: This hoodie was made using upcycled sweaters to create a one of a kind piece that will bring a smile to all who see you in it.

Raid your boyfriend’s closet: I love this dress made from a men’s plaid shirt into a cute summer dress. And dogs just make me smile! To the right is her new BFF. They can compare notes on making the cutest dresses! For this exciting number, the fabric is from an upcycled fitted bed sheet. Isn’t it wonderful? Raid your Grandmother’s linen closet for that one.

Photography Tip: These outdoor photos work well for the vibrant dresses. Posing in front of a white garage door or a backdrop of greenery will enhance the color of your outfit!

Curtains: This floral skirt is made from an old cotton curtain— to the right, this cute frilly skirt is made from vintage lace curtains.

Photography Tip: It’s okay to crop your head out of a picture if you do it right. Do take the picture with your head in it and crop it out later in your editing program to ensure a nicely balanced photo. Don’t use a smudge tool on your face, or use a paint tool cover the head, it looks scary and will take away attention from your talent— your sewing!


  • Missing

    Oct 14, 2012, 10.57 PMby TrashBoutique

    The beads are fabulous! I myself am a fan of recycling high quality leather scraps into jewelry etc.

    Some can be seen here – http://www.etsy.com/shop/TrashBoutique

  • Wenlanskirt4_large

    Jan 23, 2011, 09.19 PMby elisabetsy

    I have a pile of stuff I don’t or can’t wear anymore that I intend to repurpose! So far, I made a swing dress out of a long lovely black floral silk skirt that had a worn, ripped seam (still have to take pics) and a tank top blouse out of an old vintage top (which I just posted to my projects). Loving the inspiration! Thanks!

  • Profile_large

    Jan 21, 2011, 02.26 PMby amaydak

    Thanks for the photography tips!

  • 003_large

    Jan 20, 2011, 06.08 PMby Zoey Angel

    I love these idea`s!! I reuse missmatched socks and scarfs the kid is not using and making little sock monsters. Like the one in my picture.

  • Avawa_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 09.30 PMby analogue

    Some lovely projects here, but am I the only one who’s sick of hearing the word “upcycling”?? People have been doing this for generations, but now eco-friendliness is “in” we need a word for it. The environment is of vital importance and should not be a “trend” that needs a buzzword. Anyway the word “recycling” already means making something new out of something old. I’ll stop ranting now and enjoy the nice projects. No offense meant to anyone by the way, I’m just in a moany mood ;-)

    1 Reply
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 19, 2011, 11.29 PMby alisondahl

      As I was acquiring content for this blog post, I had the best luck finding what I was looking for by typing “upcycling” vs. “recycling” into the search bar. It seems to have caught on in the fashion/sewing community more so than “recycling”. Upcycling (which has been around for 10 years) is a process that can be repeated in perpetuity of returning materials back to a pliable, usable form without degradation to their latent value—moving resources back up the supply chain.
      For example, if you’ve ever used a soup can for a pencil holder then you’ve upcycled because the main difference between upcycling and recycling is making something of equal or better value without downgrading the original material or creating more pollution during the process.

      That’s how the two terms differ, but I catch your drift.

  • Amelia_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 07.55 PMby kimberleejean

    I have a project for spring I can’t wait to start on, it is using 2 old light flannels courtesy of my husband, and I can’t wait to start quilting with all those scraps lying around.

    But, generally, I love a good scrap project! Little birds, flowers, corsages….SO SATISFYING!

  • 010_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 05.51 PMby Cynthia Brown

    I use scraps from projects for crazy patchwork projects like purses, bags, quilts, corset, skirts, etc.

  • 30dc666f97397fb31c295913f5a1f0ab992d7e22_large_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 04.21 PMby nuiwida23

    EEE! Thanks for including my upcycled sweater and pink bed sheet creations! It’s very exciting to see all of our members getting involved with green sewing…Green Power!

    1 Reply
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 19, 2011, 11.21 PMby alisondahl

      Your work is so wonderful! While searching the site I kept coming upon your upcycled creations and just love them!

  • Jagg_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 01.59 PMby lizah

    lovely creations! I use to upcycle quite often, I have some upcycled garments in my studio. It’s good when you’re a student and don’t have much money to spend on expensive fabrics.

  • Maiden_jane_avatar_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 12.34 PMby maidenjane

    Fantastic upcycling projects! I love to upcycle. I make t shirt quilts, coffee sack rugs and aprons, totes from juice drink bags, and my newest are totes from sweatshirts! (Tutorials on my blog.)

  • Wonder-woman3_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 12.00 PMby simonewarrior

    I so love the shirt dress! I already know which shirt I would love to do that too!

  • C360_2013-07-09-19-57-47-392-1_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 10.49 AMby popbabe7

    Thanks for the tips. I love upcycling and posting on BurdaStyle but have problems with taking the right picture- mainly because my flat is tiny, messy and dark. I only use my phone to take picture as well but I should make an effort and pinch my boyfriend’s camera…

  • 560186_168634819951461_38695790_n_large

    Jan 19, 2011, 03.30 AMby meegie-moo

    Loving the photography tips! I’m starting up my own blog and currently researching for advice on how best to edit etc! The projects are great too :-)

    2 Replies
    • C360_2013-07-09-19-57-47-392-1_large

      Jan 19, 2011, 10.50 AMby popbabe7

      I use Photoscape, a free program to edit pictures on my blog and I’m very happy with it- give it a try!

    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 19, 2011, 11.20 PMby alisondahl

      I think pictures can speak more than words— especially on blogs, where people peruse more than read every single word. Photoshop is a great editing program for those who have it. My sister is a graphic designer so she passed her Adobe creative suite onto me. The other free programs out there, like Photoscape are great too.

  • Missing

    Jan 19, 2011, 03.24 AMby epona76

    these are all amazing! I didn’t realize that about the photography.

    yikes! the link for the shirt dress doesn’t work!! can you fix it? :)

    1 Reply
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 19, 2011, 11.17 PMby alisondahl

      It’s fixed! HTML can play tricks me you sometimes. Just in case here is the link again.

  • 2ec794ad0aab31308b80ae690170adc92f1f5e0e_large

    Jan 18, 2011, 08.57 PMby marmota-b

    Thank you for the photography tips! I did not know that about the ISO.

    2 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 19, 2011, 11.18 PMby alisondahl

      I was playing around with my camera one day and realized that my pictures were really grainy and tinted yellow— I looked up ISO and it changed the way I take pictures now. What a huge difference it makes!

    • 2ec794ad0aab31308b80ae690170adc92f1f5e0e_large

      Jan 20, 2011, 04.58 PMby marmota-b

      You know, I think I must have changed the ISO on my camera absentmindedly some time ago. And I was wondering why my photos were so grainy recently. Thanks to you, I think it’s solved!

    • This is a question
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