Frankenfashion Designs – Part 1

What is Upcycled Fashion?

We all have those pieces in our closet. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones we put on, then take off, then try again, then toss on the chair, then rehang and pretty soon we’ve had the item a few years and maybe worn it once. Or how about the treasured items. The ones we’ve worn over and over and over until everyone hates seeing us wearing it again. Then there’s the beautiful items. The perfect print. A perfect fit. The perfect color. But something happened. We dropped salsa on it (guilty). Or caught it on a nail and made a hole. Or put it on to wear and busted a seam.

All of these items have something in common. They are not getting worn, but we’re somehow unwilling to get rid of them. So what to do with these clothes, taking up unnecessary space in our closets and our lives?

I love upcycled fashions. Basically it’s like recycling but with style. Plus, you’ll end up with a one of kind item. Something custom made just for you. It’s better for the environment because your clothes aren’t ending up in a landfill. Better for your wallet when you aren’t spending money trying to replace the items by buying three other “similar” shirts that just don’t compare. Also better for your social life because there’s no chance of showing up to happy hour in the same skirt as Karen from accounting.

My Upcycled Fashion Projects

Today I’m sharing with you my first project since recently acquiring a sewing machine. Well, technically not the first since I upcycled pillow cases, a scarf, some table linens and scrap fabric to make masks for my family and friends. But my first clothing project. I’ve upcycled many items in the past, but handsewing has its limitations. Now I can finally tackle the pile of “those pieces” that have been waiting for new life.

The Pieces

Item: Black Tank Top with Ruffles

Origin: Puchased years before at a consignment shop clearance sale.

Problem: Overworn and tired. I had worn this top many times as a professional photographer to gigs or networking events. Had also worn it casually to summer activities. Was bored of it but felt like there was nothing “wrong” with it, so didn’t want to get rid of it.

What I liked about it: I loved the ruffles and the fact that it could be dressed up or dressed down.

summer dress
Olive Green Print Dress

Item: Olive Green Dress with floral print, assymetrical hem.

Origin: Hand me down from my mother who purchased for herself and didn’t wear.

Problem: Too big and shapeless. Weird length. It was really just too much fabric so adding a belt or tying a knot in the waist didn’t solve the problem.

What I liked about it: I loved the hemline and the fabric. Both the print as well as the weight of the fabric. Seemed great for summer but everytime I put it on I felt like I was wearing a mumu.

The Concept

drawing of upcycled fashion idea, layflat
Sketching Out the Idea

My upcycled fashion idea was to turn the dress into a long dress with the ruffled top. Because I have Tall Girl Problems, the original dress hit me at a weird length that did nothing to show off my long legs and didn’t seem to look right with any of my shoes. I also wanted to create a more defined waist line to get rid of the mumu effect. In the sketch I thought I would move the pockets up to appropriate pocket height, add elastic to the waistband, and sew the two pieces together. I measured out from armpit to waist for the top and waist to ankle for the bottom.

The Final Product

Ultimately I decided to leave the pockets where they were originally, creating a cargo pocket effect. I also had to take in the sides of the dress to be more fitted. The added elastic was perfect for drawing in the waistline. It also gives it a bit more versatility in that I can pull it up higher to blouse the top or lower to create a longer torso. The length is just right with the assymmetrical hem. I can now wear it with heels or flats! The dress has movement without being too loose. It’s light weight enough to wear alone on hot summer days or layer for cooler evenings or a different look. So pleased with how this came out. Now onto the next upcycled fashion project!