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Guest Post: Three Ways to Up-cycle Denim by Stitched Up

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Stitched Up is a non-profit cooperative on a mission to help people dress themselves more creatively and sustainably. They run clothes making, mending and upcycling workshops, clothes swaps, film screenings and more at their HQ in Chorlton, South Manchester, and out and about the city. Of course I jumped at the chance when they offered to guest post on my blog.


Upcycling is the process of reusing an item in a way that gives it more value than it had before, like recycling – but better! If you love to make things then it’s a really eco friendly (and cheap) way to explore your artistic side. Fancy trying upcycling for the first time? A pair of jeans are a great item to start with. They’re the ultimate wardrobe staple that look amazing dressed up or down. Upcycled jeans are really on trend at the moment, and with the right tutorial, a DIY denim revamp is a walk in the park!

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Upcycling jeans is not only a style statement, it’s also an environmental choice for the green at heart. The production of new jeans is a really unsustainable process (growing the cotton needed for one average pair of jeans wastes around 1800 gallons of extremely precious water) so it’s best to avoid buying new pairs too often if possible. It’s also a real shame for a pair of jeans that were once treasured to end up in landfill, adding to the world’s huge waste problem.

There’s an endless list of fabulous ways to upcycle your denims, but here we’ve picked out three great projects for you. They’d all would work equally well for any denim item – jeans, shorts, jackets, dungarees…
Trying out these ideas is much more affordable than buying a new pair of jeans, not to mention way more original too. Why blend in with the crowd when you can go your own way? We promise you’ll get loads of compliments, especially when you tell people you did it yourself!

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1. Sew on some patches! Re-worked denim is really in right now and it’s the perfect way to get more wear out of a damaged pair of jeans, for example you can easily cover up an unattractive stain with a cute fabric patch. It’s also a really cute way to jazz up your pockets. If you don’t fancy making them yourself, a great place to look for sew or iron on patches is Etsy, there’s a great selection of cute and quirky designs. The patches we’ve used here are from Manchester brand Parish Council.

sew on patches 2

2. Embroider them! All you need to embroider jeans is some embroidery floss and a needle. Your local craft shop is very likely to stock it, or alternatively, search online. The rainbow of possible colours will soon have you feeling inspired. Simply draw your design onto your jeans in chalk, then stitch over the top. The simplest of designs can look really effective. Check out these amazing examples of embroidery from Lockhart Emroidery on Instagram. or search Pinterest for ideas.

Here are some examples from our Repaired / Reworked collection…

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embroidered denim


3. Bleach (or paint) them! Bleached jeans give off an effortless beachy vibe – perfect summer street style. Using bleach may seem a little scary but It’s actually much simpler than you might think, and really easy to achieve professional looking results. There are a few tutorials online, (and some good guides to distressing the jeans too if you fancy trying that) but we think this one from Wikihow is a great option for beginners.  {Always a good idea to wash jeans afterward in water with a little vinegar to neutralise the bleach so it doesn’t eat into the fabric and then rinse through with fabric conditioner.}

bleached jeans
Visit the website or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @stitchedupuk


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