From avocado dyeing to visible mending: 4 ways to upcycle your clothes in an afternoon.

Ok, hands up…. how often do you look in your wardrobe and groan about the fact you have nothing to wear? Yep, I’m guilty too!

However, if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it's that we really don't need quite as much as we thought we did.

With ‘sustainability’ being the latest buzzword for brands, it is more than just a trend, it’s something we really need to place a serious focus on long-term. If we can all do our part and consume a little bit less, particularly when it comes to filling our wardrobes, it's a step in the right direction.

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With each Australian throwing away an average of 23kg of the 27kg of new clothing we purchase every year, there’s definitely a strong argument for taking a bit more care of the items we already own. 

If you’re someone who gets bored of your clothes easily, upcycling is a great way to refresh your wardrobe without having to buy new things. Less impact on the environment and your wallet – win win!

I've come up with a selection of different, creative ways for you to update your clothing that can be done in an afternoon. The first one even encourages avocado consumption – all of a sudden sounds much more appealing to give it a try, right?

Avocado dyeing


What you need:

  • 4-5 avocado stones and skins (cleaned)
  • Heatproof pan for boiling water
  • Plain item of clothing to dye

You’re not misreading things, that is correct, you can dye things pink with your leftover avocado skins and stones.

All you need is a few clean skins and stones, boil them up and watch the magic happen. After about 30 minutes, you’ll see the water start to change colour to a rose-pink shade. For a deeper colour continue for an additional 30 minutes. Once you’re happy, strain the pink avocado dye to get rid of any avocado residue and then pour back into the pot to continue to heat. Place the garment you want to dye into the hot, pink dye bath and continuously stir for another 30-60 minutes to ensure the item is evenly dyed.

Paint your shoes


What you need:

  • Scuffed shoes or shoes needing a refresh
  • Acrylic paint 
  • Brush
  • Acrylic paint sealant

If you've scuffed the front of your shoes or your heel has gone between two paving stones, you can give your shoes a refresh with a lick of paint or a pretty design if you’re feeling experimental. 

Maybe you are just totally bored and want a different pair of shoes to go with your outfit – your existing pair are super comfy but just the wrong colour… whack the paintbrush out! Perhaps don’t do it to your most expensive designer pair, but a fast fashion pair you’d forgotten you had? Go for it.

Chop the length

Image: Supplied.

What you need:

  • Item to be upcycled – pants/dress/skirt
  • Fabric scissors
  • Dress pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine or needle and matching thread

Whether it’s a maxi dress that’s a bit too long or a pair of jeans that have seen better days at the bottoms, you can simply cut the length off and re-hem them. Hey presto, you have a new midi dress or a pair of shorts. 

This very simple upcycle can provide you with a completely new item in your wardrobe and something unique as no one else will have the same thing. 

All you need to remember is to cut a little bit longer than your desired length as you will then need to fold up an additional couple of centimetres to make the new hem. Pin this in place, iron it to make a clean edge, then sew it down – by machine or hand (if you have the patience!)


Visible mending

What you need:

  • Holey item
  • Fabric patch to fill the hole
  • Dress pin
  • Needle and thread

Let’s face it, a lot of us have fast fashion items in our wardrobes that are damaged as they were never designed to last more than a few wears. So what better way to extend the life of the garment, than mend it. Visible mending is becoming increasingly popular and can make your item a real statement piece.

Perhaps you’ve ripped your denim shorts or your jeans. By pinning a piece of fabric over the hole and then sewing it in place, you can instantly create a completely original item and also extend the life of, what might be, your favourite item of clothing – no need to throw it away.

If you are feeling inspired by anything you’ve read and are keen to do a bit more research, have a look at the following hashtags on Instagram: #visiblemending #avocadodyeing #mendingmatters #upcycledfashion

Rosie Slaughter is the founder of Threadbare Assembly. You can follow her on Instagram here, and read more from her here:  "For one week, I wore the same dress to work. This is what happened."

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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