When recycle actually means downcycle, then upcycle instead

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Phew that was a busy, hot, wonderful summer full of fun and festivals, camping and campfires, stories and sunshine, fruit picking and friends, kids and kayaks, beaches and buddies, swimming and of course, sewing … can I think of any more? Probably, but you get the gist. In July, I ventured into the world of Facebook live with some video reviews and a rummage of my own wardrobe. I held two events at local charity shops, with a bit more Facebook live. August began with my event at the Pewsey Music Festival where I met lots of wonderful people excited about upcycling. Then I had a few weeks break from blogging and sewing. September is here, the kids are all back at school and I’m itching to get back to some projects.

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and I’ve done lots of different things, I feel I have left a few threads unfinished. I also have some ideas for new projects. So, having had a break, I think it’s a good time to take stock and have a look ahead.  I want to reflect on what has worked well, what I’ve enjoyed and invite some feedback so that I can figure out my next steps.

I’m anticipating a random few weeks, I have a couple of events in the diary to prepare for but otherwise I’m planning to tie up those loose threads and catch up on blog posts awaiting.

Next in the diary, some high fashion ….



I’m off to London Fashion Weekend on 24th September, so I want to upcycle something to wear. I have a gorgeous vintage dress I’m going to upcycle, which picks up this seasons winter florals trend. I’ll post some progress photos on Instagram and Facebook in the coming week.

When RECYCLE actually means DOWN-CYCLE


This week H&M are promoting once again, their Recycle initiative where you can get a voucher for handing in unwanted clothes. Don’t be fooled into buying more under the illusion that they can recycle unwanted textiles. There are still very few textiles that can be turned into new ones, the processes just don’t exist. If retailers truly wanted to support sustainability, they would encourage consumers to buy better quality and keep clothes for longer … but where’s the profit in that? H&M are however, one of the best of a bad bunch on the high street when it comes to ethics;  they rate as one of the highest when it comes to work practices and the environment and they are at least doing something to encourage awareness of the issues. But a voucher system where people can trade old for new, when there is no way to recycle the old is only adding to the worlds massive pile of unwanted clothes and encouraging people to buy more. That’s not upcycling or recycling .. it’s DOWNCYCLING! 

UPCYCLE instead

With that in mind, here’s a project that will hopefully inspire you to take a left turn to the charity shop rather than the high street. I bought this skirt earlier in the year from The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage for £4.50. I love the 70s style and detailing but the waist was too small for me. 


A trusty selfie and I decided I’d shorten the skirt and use the cut-off fabric for a waistband. I like the stitching and buttons at the top of the skirt so I didn’t want to take anything off at the waist.

IMG_1274I unpicked and removed the waistband. It was a vintage M&S, cotton/linen blend so it was well made of good quality natural fibres so it was easy to take apart and good fabric to work with.


The skirt had a couple of darts and a pleat at each side, I figured I could take out without losing the style. I also opened up the side seams a little and added an insert to give the extra room I needed at the waist, which I topstitched to match the stitching detail already on the skirt.

I like the deep, flat-fronted top section of the skirt so I went for a deep waistband to balance it out. I only had enough cut-off fabric to make one length of waist band so I used an old cotton top for a contrasting inside facing band. I also liked the four buttons stacked at the front opening so I added two more to continue the design. The deep waistband and shorter length gives the skirt a fuller shape but taking the extra pleat and gather out makes it more flattering at the waist so I was pleased with the finished skirt.



Have a go yourself 

Your favourite skirt that no longer fits need not be given away or discarded onto the landfill pile. Have a go at altering it yourself. If you are new to sewing, there are loads of video tutorials on YouTube. Taking a garment apart is a great way to learn how they are put together, so buy one from a charity shop and have a practice before taking apart your own treasured piece.  If you live near Wantage I’m holding some upcycling classes at The Mix starting in October. The course is not a sewing course and it’s not about producing a perfectly sewn garment, it is about exploring what can be done to re-fashion existing garments. I’m aiming to encourage people to restyle and upcycle secondhand garments rather than buying new. Email me for more information or contact The Mix to book.

Re-fashion Workshop



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