Thrift Store Upcyled Clothes By Bianca

I remember when one of the top feature stories on Yahoo was about a woman who made a challenge for herself to spend one dollar a day on dowdy, out of fashion, and ugly thrift store dresses, and upcycle them into more modern, stylish outfits, which she would then wear around town.
Her website, has the before and after pics as well as instructions on how she remade the clothes.
 See, I think that site is cool in concept, but in practicality, it seems her answer to everything she sees is "make it a mini skirt, chop off the sleeves, and then wear it with a belt", and I don't wear mini skirts, or sleeveless, and belted dresses don't look too good on me, so her ideas aren't helpful to me at all, other than the "oh, lets look at the potential in an outfit and not just at its current state".

My friend Bianca, yes, the same one with the awesome carrot salad and terrific beet salad, also likes to buy stuff from the thrift store, which she then upcycles to make it wearable or to create it more to her taste. In my opinion, she really outdoes the author of New Dress A Day for many reasons. 

1) She only spends 25 to 50 cents on the stuff that she upcycles, instead of a dollar. (Great thrift store prices, I know!)

2) She makes stuff that are more modest than the fare at New Dress a Day; her answer to every outfit isn't "lets show as much skin as possible".

3) I'm more likely to wear the stuff that she makes, I like her sense of taste better than I like at New Dress a Day, though I'll admit, its not 100% my style.

4) She does everything by hand, no sewing machine involved.

Bianca was happy to share some pics of her upcycled outfits with you readers; while there is no before and after, she shared the techniques used to create these pieces. Hopefully you'll be inspired as much as I have been.

Little girl's sun dress from a woman's skirt
This is one of my favorites. Bianca made it for her 3 year old daughter. 
She made it by cutting off layers on the bottom of the skirt to shorten it. She then cut those layers into strips. Some of those strips she sewed on to the top to be straps for the dress. Some she braided, then coiled and sewed down onto the front of the dress. The lace was taken from another piece of clothing from the thrift store that she upcycled.

Because the dress was still too wide for her little girl, Bianca attached loops of fabric on the sides of the dress, through which she threaded strips of fabric, criss crossing them to make the dress be "lace up", like a corset.

2 more upcycled skirts and an upcycled shirt.
The skirt on the left was decorated with pieces cut out of an old sheet (from the thrift store), and a strip of fabric from another sheet was added to the bottom to lengthen it.
The skirt in the middle was plain black and a little too boring for Bianca's taste, so she
made swirls out of strips of gray fabric, which she then sewed down. Those grey strips of fabric? Strips cut from her husband's old holey socks, which she rescued from the garbage. She got the idea after she saw me working on my backpack made from old holey socks.
The shirt was from a short sleeve white stained t-shirt and an old sheet. Bianca cut off the sleeves, made new sleeves out of the sheet, made a decoration in the middle from the sheet, made holes around the collar which she then wove strips from the sheet in, and then tied it in a big bow.

2 little girl dresses
Bianca saw this girl's skirt at the thrift store and loved it, but it's still too big for her daughter. She just added some strips of fabric to use as shoulder straps, and made it into a dress. When her daughter grows out of that, it'll be converted back into a skirt.
The dress on the right was a very short simple little girl's dress, which Bianca lengthened and decorated with pieces from that same sheet that she used for her shirt.

2 skirts into one.
This skirt was made from two different skirts, sewn together to make one funkier skirt. The "buttons" are just swirls of fabric from the leftover materials from the jean skirt.

Stain cover up
When Bianca found this skirt, she liked it, but it had stains on it. Bianca covered up those stains with these circles of fabric and buttons.

I hope you liked that little tour of Bianca's upcyced clothes and it has given you some inspiration to possibly upcycle clothes yourself that you either get free or find cheaply at the thrift store to make it wearable and more your style.

Do you upcycle clothes, or do you just take whatever you find and wear it as is? What were the latest stuff you upcycled?

Linking up to Craft Schooling Sunday

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. What it is now trendy to call "upcycling clothing" used to just be "how you did clothing". My grandmother was taught how to do it in her college home- ec class. My mother noticed 20 years ago that the dresses she made for herself really only became worn around the hem, so she would use the center pieces to remake into clothes for my little sister. I've been upcycling way before there was that word. When my first child was a baby, someone gave me a wool coat with a moth hole right below the shoulder. That coat became a coat, hat and moccasins for my son, and other things, too, because there was plenty left over. I think it's great that others are seeing the possibilities here, because it's really just common sense.

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