Have you worn your favourite pair of blue jeans for years, but they’re starting to look a little worse for wear? In the world of fast fashion, it can be tempting to simply buy a replacement pair. In fact, consumption of new clothing is estimated to be higher in the UK than in any other European country. Before you throw your old denim in the bin, consider upcycling your wardrobe.
Clothes are hard to recycle, and the UK has been named the fourth largest textile waste producer in Europe. To help do our part to build a sustainable fashion brand, we constantly innovate new ways to manufacture with reused everyday objects. For example, we create ethical clothing and recycled shoes through our Earthkeepers Collection. Here at Timberland, innovation is inspired by nature, and we’ve always tried to lessen our environmental impact by repurposing recycled plastic bottles in our collections. Plus, we created a pair of shoes using recycled rubber rather than natural rubber for soles.
Achieving 100% sustainability isn’t a simple feat, but with the help of individuals around the world, we can make a cumulative difference to reduce waste. From cutting them into shorts to repurposing denim scraps as Christmas decorations, let’s explore a few fun upcycling ideas that can change the world for the better.
Go ahead, get creative with upcycling hacks
Regardless of your lifestyle, chances are you have a pair of jeans that don’t fit well anymore or are simply too worn out in places. Help reduce our cumulative carbon footprint with a few fashion hacks instead of leaving textile waste to decompress in a landfill. While you’re at it, consider donating your shoes through our Nature Needs Heroes campaign.
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Here are the top 5 simple upcycling projects worth trying this season:
Cut them into shorts
The best jeans to turn into shorts fit snugly in the hips and thighs. Depending on your preferred look, keep in mind that loose jeans will offer a looser fit while tighter jeans are better suited for a cropped shorts style.
Whether your trousers have tears, noticeable holes, or even bleach stain, cutting off the majority of the legs is a quick and easy way to make them look brand new. Here’s how to alter your denim yourself:
- Put them on: Put the jeans on and button them up to ensure they still fit.
- Pick a length: Before you start cutting your denim, delineate a length for your new bottoms. Use a permanent or fabric marker to mark your preferred length. We recommend marking an inch or two below your ideal length the first time around. This will allow for any mistakes, and you can always trim off more material as needed.
- Lay them on a flat surface: Once you’re satisfied with your desired length, take off the jeans and place them carefully on a flat and controlled surface. The floor or the kitchen table should work well.
- Use a ruler as a guide: Use a ruler to guide you as you cut. Use sharp scissors to cut across one leg of trousers as a starting point. We recommend you cut at a slight downward angle toward the inner lining of the pants to ensure a more flattering fit.
- Fold: Fold the item horizontally, and use the top pant leg to cut the other leg along the same line. This strategy offers more precision so you can achieve a parallel fit with the correct length on both sides.
Fix holes with patches
Holes or unwanted tears should not ruin a pair of jeans that’s otherwise in excellent condition. According to a 2019 report, approximately 336 thousand tonnes of clothing ended up in household residual waste in the United Kingdom. Patching is a fun and easy way to breathe new life into your denim. Plus, you don’t need to be an expert crafter to upcycle sustainable materials.
Patching is a fun and easy way to breathe new life into your denim.
With a few basic sewing skills and some spare organic cotton fabric, you can easily fix most holes. All you need is a patch and some simple stitchwork.
There are a number of ways to patch depending on your needs. For a straight tear, simply sew the hole horizontally with a thread colour that matches the tone of your trousers.
Perhaps the most well-known method is patching from under the hole and sewing it with a machine. Simply find a woven fabric that is a similar weight and size to the denim of your jeans. Turn the torn edges to the back so ensure threads aren’t visible, and then turn your jeans inside out. Then, place your patch face down on the hole before sewing it together.
If you don’t happen to have spare fabric or recycled materials that would make a good patch, you can always buy pre-made recycled polyester patches in a range of colours and patterns. Iron-on patches can work particularly well in a pinch.
Dye them with bleach
If your jeans have a stubborn stain that you can’t quite get out, consider bleaching them to lighten the colour. As with any DIY clothing project, you can monitor progress slowly and independently to achieve the desired result.
Rather than investing in pre-bleached jeans at the store, you can embrace the trend from the comfort of your kitchen. Just be careful to avoid bleaching holes in your trousers.
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If you tend to store your wallet or phone in the front pocket of your jeans, you may have encountered a ripped pocket (or three.) Replacing a denim pocket is actually easier than you might expect. Plus, you can even pick a fun, patterned fabric to add a pop of personality to your new and improved trousers. First, remove the existing pocket and then measure the size against your preferred fabric. Then, sew the new pocket into the inner lining of your jeans.
Is your DIY clothing beyond repair? Try this.
Use upcycled denim as house insulation or even wrapping paper. Since most denim fabrics are made from 80 per cent recycled cotton fibres, denim insulation actually has the highest recycled content of any other type of insulation.
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You can also use almost any pattern to create a denim quilt or throw it back to the nineties and create a denim shopping bag with side pockets.
Together, we can build stronger communities, repurpose our favourite products, reduce waste in the fashion industry, and work towards a greener world. With a better future in mind, let’s join forces and strive for a brighter planet.