How to Upcycle Clothes That Are Too Small & Make Something New

by Recreateful
12 Materials
1 Hour

Altering clothes that are too small simply means finding new ways to use them. If you’ve got clothes that are too small to wear, here’s a chic way to upcycle them.

This method is good for clothes that don’t have a lot of give or stretch. You’ll mix and match them with scraps you’ve already got. This top with a lovely wave pattern is perfect for the summer or worn under a cozy sweater. Let me show you how to upcycle clothes that are too small.

Tools and materials:

  • Too-small leggings
  • Scrap fabric
  • Your own well-fitting tank
  • Paper & pen
  • Marker
  • French curve ruler
  • Regular ruler
  • Serger
  • Sewing machine
  • Twin needle
  • Pins
  • Scissors
Making a pattern for a top

1. Make the pattern

Lay your tank onto a piece of paper to draw the pattern. Make sure the tank and the fabric you’re using to make the top have a similar amount of stretch. Once you’ve drawn the shape, it’s time to make the wavy pattern.

Using a French curve ruler

Use a French curve ruler but if you don’t have one, use a round object you have to get the curve right when making the top line.

Refashioning clothes that are too small

Repeat the curve on the other side to look like the pieces are overlapping. Repeat the first pattern all the way down.

Upcycling clothes tutorial

Make sure to space out the curves evenly. You can use a regular ruler to do this or eyeball for a more organic style.

Drawing the curvy pattern for the top

Switch the French ruler to the other side at the bottom to get the bottom curve.

Numbering the pattern pieces

Number the pattern pieces so you won’t get them mixed up.

Cutting out the paper pattern

Cut out the pattern.

Cutting the fabric

2. Cut the fabric

Cut the too-small leggings across at the legs, leaving enough just in case you want to make shorts for someone else.

Tracing the pattern onto the fabric

Trace the pattern on to the fabric with at least ½ inch seam allowance as the pattern doesn’t have any marked allowance. Cut with the fabric double layered or folded as you’ll need two mirrored pieces of each pattern piece.

Repeating the same method with scrap fabric

Repeat this method with the scrap fabric.

Making the back top flat

Make the back top as flat as possible so it fits better.

Fabric pattern pieces

It should look like this. 

Assembling the top

3. Assemble the top

Stitch each piece to its next corresponding piece, right sides together.

Sewing the pieces with a zigzag stitch

Because each piece is curved, you’ll have to ease the fabric a bit to align it. Use your serger. If you haven’t got one, use a stretchy stitch like a zigzag stitch. Repeat this technique until the entire front and back panels are assembled.

How to sew the top

4. Sew the top

Place the front and back panel right sides together. Align the seams. Sew with a stretchy stitch.

Before hemming, serge the top and bottom.

Pinning the hems

Fold over towards the wrong side and pin in place.

Hemming the tube top

Use a twin needle to hem as this is the nicest way to achieve a stretchy hem.

How to upcycle clothes that are too small

How to upcycle clothes that are too small

I hope that my tutorial helped you refashion clothes that are too small. Please let me know in the comments if you made this fun and chic top.

Suggested materials:
  • Too-small leggings
  • Scrap fabric
  • Your own well-fitting tank
See all materials

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