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  • Madeleine Janz

Upcycling: Make Thrifted Pieces NEW

There are plenty of treasures at every thrift store from vintage dresses to the perfect pair of jeans but vintage dresses are sometimes too dated and those jeans that fit everywhere else might be a little too long. This is no reason to give up on thrift shopping or leave these items behind though — upcycling is your key to taking your thrift finds to the next level.


By Oxford’s definition, upcycling is “reusing discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original” and in practice upcycling is an opportunity to make small adjustments to your environmentally friendly thrift purchases to make them perfect for you. And while some experts in the craft do make money by upcycling thrifted clothing, upcycling is available to all shoppers at every price point and creativity level.


Upcycling can be as simple as taking your thrifted items to a local tailor to ensure you’re getting the best fit on your clothing or it can be as involved as using your purchases for fabric in new creations. I have loved upcycling since middle school when I would buy jeans every spring and cut them into shorts each summer to get my full use out of them. Learn the 5-minute process of making jeans into shorts here.


As I got older, I started getting more creative, turning a basic black thrifted dresses into statement pieces by sewing a fun top over the bodice (pictured here). You can also find a shirt and skirt you love and sew them together to make a new dress — this is a favorite activity for kids, but adults love it too. If you don’t want to go as far as making permanent changes, or want to test it out first, start by just layering your thrifted items and see what you like best.


With these upcycling ideas in mind, your thrift trips can be more focused and even faster. Go into each trip knowing what you’re looking for and how you need it to fit — for example, if you’re looking to turn jeans into shorts just focus on the fit of the waist and leg, not the length. Use your imagination and creativity the next time you thrift to give new life to your thrift finds.


By Madeleine Jantz, Guest Blogger; Madeleine is a Lancaster-raised NYC-based journalist on the entertainment and Fashion beats. In her free time she is an avid thrifter.



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