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Five Easy Ways to Recycle Your Old Clothes

You don't always need to have comprehensive sewing skills to be able to transform an item of clothing into something that's trendy, and on the cheap.

Keeping up with the fashion trends can be costly business, and when money is tight treats like new clothes are often one of the first things that go by the wayside, according to Debt Free Direct. These are the times when it's handy to know a few thrifty tricks for recycling and reviving the clothes you already have in your wardrobe, and giving a new lease of life to a tired old pair of trousers, or last season's shirt.

What's more, you don't always need to have comprehensive sewing skills to be able to transform an item of clothing into something that's trendy, and on the cheap. Let us share with you a few easy ways to modify your clothing, and if you have some ways of your own, we'd love for you to tell us about them!

Lovely lace collar shirt

Photo credit: John

You know those old doilies that were hand-me-downs from your grandparents, that you've had stowed away for years? Now is the time to dig them out, because lace collars are big fashion news and you can make your own in a flourish.

Simply take a collar-less shirt and a doily - one about the size of a side plate will work best. Cut the doily in half, turn your shirt inside out and pin the two halves of the doily side-by-side to the inside of the collar, so that they will hang out of the shirt when it is turned the right way.

Sew the doily to the shirt on the inside, flip your shirt the right way around and topstitch the doily around the collar too, so that it stays in place. You could even sew a little length of ribbon to the collar between the two doilies to create a pretty bow.

Dazzling dip-dye clothing

Photo credit: Lisa Clarke

One of the hottest trends that dominated this year's designer catwalks was ombré effect, or dip-dye clothing, and the good news for frugal fashionistas is that this look is surprisingly easy to recreate at home. All you need is a packet of fabric dye, a large plastic bucket, gloves, a coat hanger and a white or light-coloured cotton garment of your choice.

First of all, follow the instructions on the dye packet to make up the bucket of dye, and then soak your garment with water. Put the garment on the hanger so that it falls straight, and immerse the very bottom of the garment in the dye for a few minutes, lifting it up and down to ensure there is not a definite 'line' where the dye stops. Then, lower the next few inches of the garment into the dye to repeat the process for a few more minutes.

Finally, lower another few inches into the dye for just a few moments to create a very light dye effect, then remove the garment altogether, rinse under cold water from top to bottom and machine wash twice. You should then have a fantastic dip-dyed piece, for just a few pounds!

Trendy trimmed shorts

Photo credit: Francine Clouden

Who doesn't have a pair of cut-off denim shorts lurking in the back of their wardrobe? Jazz them up for the sunny months by trimming them with lace or scrap fabric, in almost no time at all.

A pair of ladies' denim cut-offs will look cute with a length of lace stitched around the bottom of the shorts or some floral fabric sewn over a pocket. On the other hand, a pair of men's shorts could be trimmed in the same way with plaid or striped fabric - plus when the season is over, you can just remove the trim and have a plain pair of denim shorts, ready to modify again.

Ten-minute twisted t-shirt

Everyone has an old plain coloured t-shirt lying around that's just begging to be revived, and for ladies there's an easy way to make a t-shirt go from drab to fab in just a few minutes!

Start by cutting the sleeves off your shirt, and then cut up both sides of the shirt, just between the bottom of the arm hole and the bottom of the shirt. Turn the shirt inside out and lay it flat onto a table, with the front side facing down.

Pick up the two edges of the bottom of the back of the shirt and flip them over, to create a twist in the centre of the shirt - do it a few more times if you wish for a 'tighter' twist - then re-align the bottom edges of the shirt, pin into place and sew from the bottom, about halfway up the shirt. What you'll have is a super-cool vest top with a twisted back that's just perfect for summer!

Cool contrasting sleeve shirt

You might have noticed that shirts with contrasting sleeves have been popping up in the shops, but don't be tempted to buy them when you can easily do this at home! You will need two old shirts, preferably one patterned and one with a plain colour - but if you wish to clash patterns, that's even better.

All you have to do is cut the sleeves off each shirt on the outside of the seam, then take the shirt and sleeves that you wish to combine, turn them both inside out and sew together around the armhole using a machine or an overcast stitch. You might get a few requests to do this for some of your friends, too!