a table topped with different types of sewing supplies.
a table topped with different types of sewing supplies.

How to Upcycle Clothing: Tools You Need to Have to Start Upcycling Clothes

If you’ve ever wondered how to upcycle clothes, you’re not alone. This DIY trend continues to grow in popularity. Upcycling clothes takes old garments and transforms them into something new. It involves disassembling unwanted clothing items and reusing the fabric, buttons, zippers or other materials in a new way. Creating something new from old clothing items is great for the environment as it reduces waste by giving those items a second life instead of sending them to a landfill somewhere. When it comes to upcycling clothes, there are many ways that you can repurpose your old garments and create something useful from them again.

Looking for ways to learn how to upcycle? Get a free course on RE.STATEMENT.

Here are some tools that you need if you want to start upcycling clothes at home:

Sewing Machine

A sewing machine is often the first thing people think of when they think about upcycling clothes. It is the best way to repurpose fabric into something new, like a pillow cover or a new dress. If you don’t already have a sewing machine, you need to buy one if you want to start upcycling clothes. There are many different types of sewing machines on the market. You will likely want to find one that is easy to use, has a wide selection of stitches, and comes at an affordable price. You can find many used sewing machines at thrift stores and consignment shops. You can also check online for deals. If you are just getting started with upcycling clothes, you may want to start with a portable model. This will make it easy to take your sewing machine with you wherever you go.

Portable Handheld Sewing Machine

If you’re not ready to invest in a full-sized sewing machine, a portable handheld model may be a good option for you. You can use portable handheld sewing machines to make small repairs on clothing or to make small crafts like stuffed animals or decorative items. With a handheld sewing machine, you can stitch a hem or sew on buttons. You can also use a handheld sewing machine to create simple items like a place mat or a napkin holder. Although a handheld sewing machine is portable, you still need to have a table or surface where you can put it down and sit comfortably to use it.

Rotary Cutter and Mat

A rotary cutter and mat combination is a must-have item for upcycling clothes. This tool makes it easy to cut fabric into straight lines for new projects like a new handbag or pillow covers. You can also use a rotary cutter to cut fabric pieces that can be turned into patches, such as a denim patch to repair a pair of jeans. A rotary cutter and mat combo is very similar to a large pizza cutter. It has a sharp blade that is mounted to a rotating disc and easily slices through fabric. To protect your work surface, you will also want to use a fabric cutting mat. This mat provides you with a clean, smooth surface where you can easily move fabric as you cut it. Using a rotary cutter and mat is much easier than trying to cut fabric with scissors.


Scissors are another tool that is a must when upcycling clothes. You want to make sure to have both small and large-sized scissors on hand. You will want the small scissors for general cutting and the large scissors for cutting fabric. When you are upcycling clothes, you may want to remove the labels or sew them into the fabric. You can do this using large scissors. You can also use scissors to cut out patches or shapes from fabric, such as a heart-shaped patch for a t-shirt or pillow.

Embroidery Pen

An embroidery pen is another item that is great for upcycling clothes. This pen makes it easy to add custom designs and words to t-shirts and other garments. You can make a plain t-shirt more personalized by adding your name or a funny saying to it. An embroidery pen is easy to use and allows you to create designs on fabric that will last. You can also use an embroidery pen to repair fabric by stitching over tears.

Iron-on Transfers and Iron

When you upcycle clothes, you may want to customize garments by adding a design or words to them. You can do this by using iron-on transfers. These are sheets of paper that have designs or letters printed on them. You can iron the design onto fabric using a standard iron to make it last. Iron-on transfers make it easy to upcycle clothes, so you can make your jeans or t-shirt unique and stand out from the crowd. You can also iron on patches to garments using iron-on transfers to repair or customize clothing. You will also want to have an iron on hand to iron out wrinkles in fabrics. This makes it easier to apply the patches or iron-on transfers to garments. It also helps make the fabric look smoother and ready to wear.


Upcycling clothes is a great way to repurpose old garments and create something new from them. There are many tools that you can use to make this easy, including a sewing machine, rotary cutter and mat, scissors, an embroidery pen, iron-on transfers, and an iron. When it comes to upcycling clothes, these are the tools you need to get started. For more information on how to upcycle clothes, find classes online and in-person on RE.STATEMENT.


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