Fashion Muse

Upcycle Your Wardrobe

Zara Osaka provides five upcycling projects to ease your lockdown boredom

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Image Credit: ZARA OSAKO (ALL)

After spending the first couple of weeks of lockdown basking in the comfort of the same monochrome hoodie and joggers, and binging anything and everything on Netflix, I began to grow bored of both my monotonous wardrobe choices and my lockdown hobbies. Eventually, I decided to seize the opportunity to finally fulfil all of those crafty projects I’ve had indefinitely pinned on Pinterest for months that I would ‘do later’. Fortunately for both my wardrobe and my sanity, that never-ending excuse is now inescapable. All of the resources I needed for these projects I bought from Etsy or Amazon- if one thing lockdown has made me grateful for, it’s Amazon Prime!

Here are five ways to reinvent your lockdown wardrobe, while passing the time (and dodging uni work):

If you’re anything like me then your hair has been in a permanent very messy bun for the duration of lockdown, and while that won’t be changing anytime soon, the least I can do is add some colour to it. Scrunchies are really quick and easy to make and make use of those old clothes you undoubtedly have lying around in that charity bag that you never got around to actually taking to the charity shop- we’ve all got one. I used a sewing machine to stitch mine together, but they can be hand-sewn. Here’s one I made out of an old top:

To make these:

  1. Cut a piece of fabric about 3.5 by 18 inches and fold it in half widthways with the correct side facing inwards.
  2. Fold about an inch of the fabric over at the top and pin the fabric together where you will sew it together.
  3. Once sewed together, turn the fabric inside out so that the correct side is facing outwards.
  4. Cut a piece of elastic about 9 inches. Attach a safety pin to one end and thread it through the fabric.
  5. Tie the elastic together where the ends meet and push the non-folded-over end of fabric inside the folded-over end.
  6. Finally, sew the scrunchie together!

Similar to scrunchies, headbands are another easy way to upcycle that top that hasn’t seen daylight since you were sixteen and they make a worthy addition to any outfit - think Blair Waldorf but on a budget!

To make these:

  1. Measure your head from the top of your ear to the other and cut a piece of fabric accordingly with your desired width.
  2. Cut a piece of fabric from the bottom of your ear to the other.
  3. Taking the top piece of fabric, fold over a few centimetres of fabric on each end. Fold the fabric together widthways (correct side inwards) and pin together and sew.
  4. Pin the bottom fabric together widthways and sew.
  5. Turn both pieces of fabric right side out.
  6. Iron the fabric flat- this is optional but definitely helps to structure the headband.
  7. Cut a piece of elastic about 8 inches- bigger or smaller according to your head size (it needs to be shorter than the bottom piece of fabric)- and thread through the bottom piece of fabric.
  8. Attach the two pieces of fabric together and sew!

Tie-dye is one of those trends we all swore we’d never wear again, yet it’s been slowly creeping its way back into style with all my favourite clothing shops now inundated with the 60s style. Tie-dying is fun and easy to recreate, and while you may still be living in an oversized t-shirt and joggers, at least now they’re colourful. Here are a few t-shirts I’ve made:

To do this:

  1. Lay down a bin bag or plastic sheet (I did mine outside).
  2. Soak your clothing in cold water – the clothing must be cotton for the dyes to adhere to it.
  3. Prepare your dyes according to the instructions – for more pastel colours add less dye.
  4. Tie up your clothing in your desired pattern (just google tie-dye patterns- I chose to just crumple mine).
  5. Tie up your clothing and dye- unwrap the clothing and retie to ensure you cover the whole fabric.
  6. Put the clothing into a bag and leave for 24 hours.
  7. Rinse the clothing until the water runs clear.
  8. Wash and dry and it’s ready to wear! I just hand-washed mine but it can go in the washing machine.

Fabric painting
During one of my favourite quarantine activities - aimlessly scrolling through the ‘new in’ page of all my favourite clothing shops, only to realise I have nowhere to wear these clothes – my eye was caught by a pair of patterned jeans that were, as expected, very much out of my student budget. Coincidentally, I have a perpetual amount of time to fill and decided to make my own. And although you won’t catch me in jeans anytime soon, at least I have my post-lockdown outfit sorted.

This project was really inexpensive to complete as the only thing I had to purchase was the fabric paint which I bought for less than £5. I simply cut out a stencil of a heart from a piece of paper and sponged the paint onto the jeans, going around the outline with a paint brush to neaten it up. Once done and dried, I just had to iron over the paint (check what your fabric paint requires) and my jeans were completely transformed!


The final upcycling project I’ve delved into was embroidery, another trend doing a complete 360 back into our wardrobes. Again, I chose to redesign a pair of old jeans but you can choose anything to embroider with any pattern- your creativity is limitless, as with all these projects. You’ll need an embroidery hoop, embroidery threads and a needle for this DIY; simply attach the hoop, draw your pattern and embroider!


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